Thoughts on Understanding Media

The evolution of machine technology as well as automation technology have significantly changed how individuals perceive, assess and react to the power of information. Creation of new and transformation of existing media have incited the creation of a society much more complex and difficult to navigate on. As presented extensively in the text, the “the medium is the message” because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. In the digital age, with the rise of the Internet the reach and scale of information has taken breads unconceivable in past times. Access to information has become very smooth, while the rise of smartphones has brought this power in the palm of the hand of each and every one of us. The power of medium has strengthened considerably, with consequences that we experience in our everyday lives. On the positive side, people can learn and educate themselves very fast utilizing relatively low levels of energy. On the negative side, the size and spread of so-called fake news is a notion that will trouble generation to come. Written and published content with the intent to mislead in order to gain financial or political power is something that we have all experienced to a certain degree throughout our lives. As the text states, “Once we have surrendered our senses and nervous systems to the private manipulation of those who would try to benefit from taking a lease on our eyes and ears and nerves, we don’t really have any rights left“. Therefore, it may be fair to assume that it does not matter whether the “content” of writing or print is speech, since the reader is almost entirely unaware either of print or of speech, however the notion of content does play in integral role on how we would like to steer our society in the future, in terms of how that content is perceived and acted upon. Unfortunately, in our society ill willed actions are prevalent and societies can be easily demagogued and manipulated. Examples of this we have witnessed extensively during the 2016 US Presidential Election, where specific foreign governments have been accused of coordinating intelligence campaigns in favor of a specific presidential candidate predominantly via the use of social media. Since content can be relayed to with no significant third-party filtering, fact-checking or editorial judgment, an individual with no track-record or reputation and reach very quickly as many readers as big incumbent news players. Furthermore, because usually fake news tend to involve content that is fairly exciting and vibrant, usually fake news tend to be more widely shared than the most popular mainstream news stories, thus achieving much greater virality and impact. It is alleged, that fake news might have been pivotal in the election of President Trump. I cannot comment on the assessment of this claim, one way or another, however, if a medium and its content may yield such an immense power over society, then this definitely raises my eyebrows, on how to best regulate and harness such a power. Therefore, proper regulations and boundaries need to be set, in order for the evolution and automation of technology not to become a medium of a few demagogues to manipulate and take advantage of public opinion.

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