Publication Date

1998

Abstract

The World Wide Web (WWW) is a technology that allows for a seemingly infinite number of computers to stay connected. Computers that make up the WWW allow their users to share ideas, messages, graphics, video, sound, etc., around the clock unlike any other media. Many believe the WWW holds the promise of information, entertainment, and even democracy. But, how democratic is the WWW? My research will attempt to determine which of two philosophical view of technology, the social deterministic or the technological dterministic, best fits the WWW. Other subquestions include: Who controls the WWW? Is there a common language on the WWW? and What is its message?

The social deterministic view of technology espouses that technology is created as a result of power relations, a decision of the elite. In contrast, the technological deterministic view holds that once created, the use of technology reflexively forms society. The work of two media determinists, Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan, provide much of the theoretical base for my research and other supporting materials were gathered from magazines and other literature on modern technology, and from the WWW itself.

“Technologists argue that we are now outgrowing the nation-state and a new form of world order is emerging, a global village” (Carey, 1992:170). Such a perspective on the WWW may be utopian but the rapid growth of the WWW makes the new media deserving of attention. Should the theory that “who controls the media also controls society” have validity, then there would be a social class with unimaginable control over the world. An exploration of the WWW and its communication properties and style, and how they might promote and encourage collaboration, is used to determine what the message of the WWW is.

Disciplines

Computer Sciences | Philosophy

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