Show me the ‘Info’

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In Living in the Information Age, Frances Cairncross identified the “proliferation of ideas” as an upcoming and essential trend. She believed new ideas and information would travel faster to the farthest corners of the world and that third world countries would have access to the industrial worlds knowledge. She also wrote, “communities of practice and long-distance education programs would help people find mentors and acquire new skills”.  This post will assess if her three-part prediction is indeed accurate in relation to the three Media Now authors genres, particularly social media. The authors, Straubhaar, LaRose and Davenport, specify Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, Google+ and Wikipedia as all very popular and influential social media applications.

 Information would travel faster to the farthest corner of the world. A New York Times article stated that good news spreads faster on Twitter and Facebook than the typical ‘if it bleeds rule’ news. The media tend to utilize the ‘if it bleeds rule’ to captivate audience’s attention in catastrophic events like tornadoes and widespread famine, but researchers have determined positive news travels faster[1]. Similarly, the Securities and Exchange Commission notified companies they could use social media sites to disseminate key information, like they already do on corporate websites, as long as they alert investors of this[2]. Both of these articles provide interesting perspectives because they involve the dissemination of information (either positive and/ or corporate) through social media to the farthest corners of the world. Anyone with Internet access is provided the luxury of staying current and informed.

 Third world counties will have the same access to knowledge as the industrial world. It is essential to properly define the term “third world countries” in order to assess the statement. According to the Nations Online Project, third world countries loosely describes the developing countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America characterized by high infant mortality, high levels of poverty and a lack of a middle class[3]. The Latin American region has a total population of 593, 688, 683 with 42.9% Internet penetration or “the same access to knowledge as the industrial world”[4]. And in September 2012, it was announced only one-third of the world population is now “online” specifically 20.5 percent of households in developing countries[5]. Therefore it is difficult to determine whether Cairncross’s prediction was valid, because only some third world countries have access and in those third world countries not everyone has the Internet amenity of the elite.

Communities of practice and long-distance education programs would help people find mentors and acquire new skills. If you’re fortunate enough to have Internet access (and clearly since you’re reading this, you are) there is a world of long-distance education programs. It seems like universities all around the country are implementing this type of program, which allows individuals to virtually find mentors, acquire new skills and excel in the workforce. Even some of the world’s most prestigious universities, like Harvard, are participating in this phenomenon. Cairncross’s trend was definitely accurate in this specific section.   Word Count: 506

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