Communications Essay, Research Paper
The extent to which communication has taken over our lives is unbelievable at
times. Everywhere people look now, there is another "toy," or
"gadget" trying to make our lives easier. But do these new gizmos and
gadgets truly improve our lives? Most people would say that yes, they do. But
when taking a critical approach to this issue, the results may not be what you
might think. In this day and age of constantly improving advancements of
technology, it is interesting to examine what we as a society want out of our
Many of the products out currently claim to be "on the cutting edge of
technology." In fact, most of the advertisements used to promote the
services claim that their technologies will make your life so much better that
it is imperative that everyone have what they are offering. For example, in the
Bose technology advertisement, the marketers claim that their technology can
"be virtually indistinguishable from magic." Their products are a new
line of speakers that are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand.
They are designed, "For your home. Your car. Your business. Your
life." The technologists that created this technology converged the idea of
having a home stereo or a car stereo, into a "personal music center."
The technologists are taking a giant leap, assuming that we as a society WANT
and NEED this sort of thing.
The WordPerfect Office 2000 ad also claims that it has "cutting-edge
features." This advertisement is not as straightforward as the Bose
Speakers ad, but it too assumes that people need to have this new technology in
their lives in order to make their lives better. The main headline of this
advertisement reads: "One day, I will prove that Karl Marx created Adam
Smith in a secret underwater bio lab." As we all know, Karl Marx was a
powerful philosopher who wanted to create complete equality. In this ad, Adam
Smith is the average man. What the organizations are trying to promote is the
idea of equality: their technology allows even the most normal (Smith) consumers
to have access to the same things as great teachers and philosophers have. They
are two entirely different people with one technology that ties them together.
According to Nicholas Negroponte, in Being Digital, the technological changes in
our world appeal only to a small population of the people. This advertisement
goes against that statement, arguing that anyone can use it. It allows everyone
to "wrestle with ideas-not technology."
Many will argue that technology is more of a hassle for what it is worth.
However, Negroponte says that the point of technology is:
not just to give people bigger screens, better sound quality, and
easier-to-use graphical input devices. It is to make computers that you know,
learn about your needs, and understand verbal and nonverbal languages.
The question we as consumers must ask is if our quality of life will improve
because of the advances. The idea of convergence is that when technologies are
combined together, our lives as humans become easier. In some cases, this is
true. But not always. By all of these added "conveniences," are we
cutting short our potential? Does it teach our society to be lazy? One of the
greatest things that we have in our lives is our ability to communicate
interpersonally with each other. To share ideas and talk about them. The
WordPerfect ad is a perfect illustration of how our society is becoming more
detached from one another through the use of technology. There is no interaction
with this program. It insinuates that when you type the ideas into this program,
thousands of new ones are generated from it.
A lot of times, advertisements leave consumers asking many questions after
seeing the ad. In both the Bose and WordPerfect ads, there were unanswered
questions. Take for example the Bose Speaker ad. The ad does not tell you
anywhere how it works nor does it tell you how much it costs. Also, the ad
speaks of an "entire rack of components." Nowhere do we know what
these components are. In the Word Office ad, one of the greatest things left
unanswered was simply how the program works. There is nothing in the ad that
explains why this technology is better than a normal word processing component
on the computer.
When these technologies are being developed, it would make much sense for the
technologists, the organizations/marketers, and the technology users to speak
amongst themselves to develop a technology that is the best and appropriate one.
This theory is known as innovative dialog. When innovative dialog does not take
place, the outcomes are unexpected. Each component in the innovative dialog
triangle has a specific purpose in the group. The technologists are simply
trying to create the best technology possible, regardless of its practicality.
The organizations are in it for economic purposes. They want money, and they
will promote their product to get it. The technology user, the consumer, wants
the technology to improve his/ her quality of life. The "Gilbert"
cartoon strip by Scott Adams is a humorous representation of how the dialog
between technologists and organizations go. Basically, the marketers want their
product to seem to be able to anything at all that the consumer would want. The
technologists though are not capable of creating that. They can only move one
step at a time. Gilbert says, "I could write a program that makes fish
appear on the computer screen." The marketer replies, "Yeah?A lot of
people want that." And this is completely true. Society wants the best
thing for their money, even if they have no use for it.
The two advertisements are good examples to illustrate what organizations try
to do to coerce consumers into buying products. The speakers and the word
processing program do not do anything spectacular. And they certainly do not
make lives a significant amount better. But the ads themselves do a great job in
making it seem like the products will make life grander. The cartoon does a fine
job in tying in what the technologists and the organizations think when they are
creating and promoting their product.