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Understanding Social Media

Extensions of Their Users

Series:

Robert K. Logan and Mira Rawady

The purpose of this book is to understand the nature of social media and the impact they are having on almost all aspects of modern-day existence from family life and social interactions to education and commerce. Just as fish are unaware of the water they swim in and we humans are unaware of the air that we breathe so it is that the users of social media are unaware of the effects of these media and take their existence as a natural part of their environment. The authors make use of Marshall McLuhan’s media ecology approach to understanding media in order to reveal the effects of social media on their users, how they are changing the nature of our social interactions and how we through our interaction with social media have become actual extensions of our social media, the reverse of McLuhan’s notion that media are extensions of mankind.

The authors analyze the major social media apps including Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tinder, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter and blogs as well as examining the Splinternet and the social media scene in Russia, China, North Korea, Vietnam and the Islamic world. Understanding Social Media studies the impacts of social media monopolies, the nature of advertising and branding in social media apps and the social media front in cyberwarfare and concludes with an analysis of the social media counter revolution waged by players who actually helped to create social media.

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Chapter One: Introducing the Seven Ages of Communication

Extract

In the past 80 years in rapid succession we have experienced three communication revolutions:

1.the emergence of digital computing, i.e. mainframe computers;

2.personal computers;

3.online communication with the Internet and the World Wide Web; and

4.the smart phone.

Never before in the history of humankind have we experience such a rapid turnover of communication strategies or devices. Speech has been with us 50–100 thousand years and mimesis or non-verbal communication is even older than that. We have made use of written texts for the past 5,000 years and electric media for the past 200 years. However, in the past 80 years we have had the emergence of four new modes of communication, i. digital mainframe computers, ii. personal computers, iii. online media with the Internet and the World Wide Web and iv. the smart phone.

Each one of these new media forms have had a major impact on our educational, social, commercial and political systems. Each changed the way we communicate, the way we think, the way we see the world, the way we interact with each other physically, emotionally, commercially, and socially. It changed the way ←3 | 4→we organize our activities, our work, our play, our families, our governments, and our educational systems. Each new form of communication ushers in a new way in which we organize our lives. The figure of each of the categories we just listed will change as the ground...

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