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Is the internet an evolution or a revolution?

May 1, 2012

Kate’s statement that the internet is evolutionary caught my attention today in class. I will agree that the tool itself has revolutionized how we communicate, but I firmly believe it has come to be through an evolutionary process.  In COMM505 in the fall term, I was fortunate to work with Lenore and Diane on the first assignment and our topic was “Gutenberg’s Printing Press: Ideation to Transformation”.  As part of the research on this essay we contemplated whether new communication tools were revolutionary or evolutionary.  My perception would agree with Winston (1998) who argued that “what is hyperbolised as a revolutionary train of events can be seen as a far more evolutionary and less transforming process” (p. 1) In short I believe communication tools are evolutionary – one tool does not exist without the prior tools.  There is an evolution from ideation to supervening social necessity to prototype development to invention to transformative spinoffs.  The development of the Web wasn’t as quick as we perceive it to be, as it took from the 60’s to the late 90’s to really take off.  The iterations from Web 1.0 to 2.0 and soon 3.0 appear to me to be the transformative spinoffs in the evolution of this tool.

Reference:

Winston, B. (1998). Media Technology and Society, A History: From The Telegraph To The Internet. London: Routledge.

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One comment

  1. Nice nuance to the course reading! I also agree with the caution against hyperbole, which is why I never use the term revolution lightly 😉 … I also happen to think the printing press was revolutionary in its social impact, though it certainly evolved from earlier technological and cultural innovations.



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