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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 Three: The Impacts of the Internet and the World Wide Web: The Online Age

Extract

In this chapter we will describe the Internet (Net) and the World Wide Web (Web) and survey their impact on almost all aspects of human activity. The Internet is a medium whose content is digital computing illustrating Marshall McLuhan’s observation that “Except for light, all other media come in pairs, with one acting as the content of the other (McLuhan 1995, 27).” McLuhan (1964, 267) expressed this idea in Understanding Media in the following way:

Although the medium is the message, the controls go beyond programming. The restraints are always directed to the “content,” which is always another medium. The content of the press is literary statement, as the content of the book is speech, and the content of the movie is the novel.

Following McLuhan’s lead, we assert that the content of the Internet is digital computing as is the World Wide Web, email, chat rooms, Internet Relay Chat, instant messaging and Usenet newsgroups, as well as the access to other services such as telnet (a network protocol that allows a user on one computer to log into another computer that is part of the same network) and ftp (File Transfer Protocol). The Internet enhances the connectivity of computer users and provides ←19 | 20→access to information stored on servers now referred to as the Cloud. As a result, it has obsolesced teletype and reduced the usage of fax.

Enhances: the connectivity of computer users;

Obsolesces: teletype and fax and the...

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