I remember the presentation when I first heard about Internet. It was very interesting and impressive. The presenter used analogies in order to express idea of World Wide Web. He drew a huge cloud on the blackboard and claimed that it was internet, full of different kinds of information: films, photos, books, chats, articles about media, communication, politics, history, sciences, sales, languages and so on. In short, there were unlimited resources for the people with all kind of interests. Then he said that typing http://www.your-desired.destination in the address bar you got direct way to the data. It was fun, but so extraordinary, that I still remember the definition even after 15 years.
The time passed, so I learnt even more than this basic explanation about World Wide Web. I acquired to emailing, different search engines, websites about culture, economics, international affairs, TV shows and music stars… Internet inspired me for the idea of my Master paper, helped to gain materials on different topics and communicate with many, many people from all over the world.
Early means of online communication in 1990s were:
Different kinds of chats: I started from mIRC, but “chat veterans” claimed that there was even some other chat before that. Then I learnt about ICQ, Yahoo Messenger, MSN, Skype, etc. But In this case communication was limited to 2 persons, and included only exchange of personal information/ideas.
“Higher generation” of online communications appeared discussion forums. It was more fun and encouraged more public to interact each other. People with different background expressed their ideas on ongoing affairs, ethical dilemmas, legal issues, employment opportunities and labor problems… Sometimes online users organized various activities: protest rallies and meetings, charity concerts for homeless and orphan children, cultural-recreational tours to different destination, environmental projects and so on. Thematic discussions united people with common interests. I was a member of various forums and indeed, I had a good time there. I made friends with some nice people, and enjoyed on different occasions/events. Discussion forums were more open, but for the certain people – on limited geographic areas, interests and knowledge. They included only those who are Writers and Communicator and excluded Readers – the people who do not have time to interact with others and prefer only reading/searching in order to gain desired information from the network.
Discussion forums did not have systematic resources about diverse spheres, information was scattered in different topics and they were “out of control” of search engines, with uncomfortable navigation system and unorganized news feeds. Additionally, they were closed space, mostly with monolingual people, with the same cultural-social background. I’ve seen very seldom a discussion forum with international users. If there is one, it’s very small and not as powerful, as “local” ones. On the largest Georgian forum there are And it is still in this way.
Though, Internet-based communication advanced once again and Social Media appeared. Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Delicious, blogging opportunities opened even more doors to cross-cultural communication. Yes, I LOVE BLOGGING and online relations! I love my Facebook friends and those who tweet every day about interesting new! That is a great opportunity to expand personal and professional network and make career advancements! I have twitter contacts from different countries: Georgia, United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany and so on. What I gain there? – news on politics, changes in Social Media, upcoming cultural events, international conferences and study courses… Indeed, it’s a great resource! It’s unlimited opportunity for personal and professional development!
Some advantages of Social Media are:
- Enhanced Communications: you can connect to people from unlimited backgrounds, get even more information than on chats and forums, and get involved in many, many professional networks. You can directly contact to expert in your sphere and get some feedback from him/her. Or you may get a job! Is not it fantastic?!
- Increased Access to Information: using keywords, you can appear on the blog with a lot of useful resources: linked websites, blogroll with related content, questions and answers section that may inspire you for further research.
- Open Space, Open Cooperation – you do not need visa to get to know about new cultures, or everyday life in the other countries. Here is internet, here is social media – you can connect to others, and spread you word over the world! you do not need special permission – only choose “right” words! That’s all!
In sum, my recent understanding of Internet is more concrete and related to effective usage of online resources. Social media is the prefect tool for intercultural communication and personal/professional advancement.
Now my model of Internet communication looks like this:
It’s advanced, is not it? What is your online communication experience? Have you got any important contact or information through Social Media that changed your life?
P.S. Thanks to Mashable and Jessica Faye Carter who inspired me for this post.