Comparative Approaches of the IGI-Global Collection

Comparative Approaches of the IGI-Global Collection

Joseph Straubhaar (The University of Texas at Austin, USA) and Gejun Huang (University of Texas in Austin, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8740-0.ch027
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Abstract

This volume has surveyed a broad swath of the impacts of what is one of the largest technological transformations in human history, the Internet. The Internet has changed the way people communicate: among their friends and families, at school and work, and how they meet new people, within and across cultures. It has changed how companies conduct their business, and refocused many new companies on the business possibilities of the Internet itself, which despite the temporary bust in a number of dot.com businesses at the end of the 1990s, continues to expand with relatively long standing businesses like Amazon and Apple doing extremely well. Furthermore, new businesses like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are growing fast, becoming dominant in niches that were not imaginable 20 years ago.
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Introduction And Theoretical Views

This volume has surveyed a broad swath of the impacts of what is one of the largest technological transformations in human history, the Internet. The Internet has changed the way people communicate: among their friends and families, at school and work, and how they meet new people, within and across cultures. It has changed how companies conduct their business, and refocused many new companies on the business possibilities of the Internet itself, despite the temporary bust in a number of dot.com businesses at the end of the 1990s, the internet industries continues to expand with relatively long standing businesses like Amazon and Apple doing extremely well. Furthermore, new businesses like Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp are growing fast, becoming dominant in niches that were not imaginable 20 years ago.

The facilitation of international business, both among traditional and new companies, is also a key feature of the Internet. Just to give a historical contrast, in the mid–to-late 1980s, the lead author of this essay, Straubhaar, did both academic work and consulting on how large companies that were users of telecom and computer services could expand their electronic communications before the Internet as we know it. Simply to create corporate email services, update financial results, keep track of inventory, maintain central records on personnel, etc. required companies to have their own computer servers in regional hubs and connect them with leased high-speed telecom lines at high prices from monopoly PTT providers. The Internet now allows them to do all of these things, at much higher speed, at infinitely lower costs. Whereas telecom and computing costs were a huge barrier to entry into international business in the 1980s (Porter, 2008), the low costs of the Internet are now an incentive to new entrants to expand their businesses transnationally, expanding the boundaries for new services, new business leads and different markets (Doyle, 2013).

Passarelli notes in her opening essay how the Internet linked to education has been expanding its possibilities and maximizing results, carrying with its virtual endless connections between the knowledge and the ability to solve problems in all parts of the world. It has also transformed the way that we entertain ourselves, initially in music, where it has had perhaps its climax of impact, but also increasingly in television, film, gaming, and the new Internet based services like social networks, which are the main focus of entertainment for many users, with other forms of entertainment embedded in those social networks as links to news stories, television shows and clips, user made videos, music, blogs, etc.

This volume has many themes and most of the essays touch on several themes. Probably the most frequent and important, represented as headings in this essay are digital or information literacy, convergence in several senses of the word, user behavior, digital inclusion, and policy.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Divide: About information gaps and uneven patterns of diffusion of innovation, unequal access to and use of the new digital technologies of computing and the Internet, creating new forms of social and economic stratification.

Media Convergence: Based on the combination of communications processes on digital technologies and creates new dynamics between and among existing technologies, industries, markets, genres and audiences.

One Laptop Per Child (OLPC): A program developed at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). It had specific pedagogical ideas about how children who learn from computer and network access. It supposed that children could learn directly from the technology and each other, not putting a great deal of emphasis on teaching training and involvement. It also developed new hardware designs to create extremely low cost and durable laptops for use by children in difficult positions.

Techno-Capital: Like Bourdieu’s theory of cultural capital, it is the accumulation of digital access, skills and opportunities, particularly at an advanced level to learn what is required to make access to digital tools and the Internet empowering in their work, social and personal lives.

Political Economy of Convergence Society: Addresses four processes—the vigilance or surveillance systems, the multiple processes of convergence, the participation culture, and the concurrence among consolidated media—to rethink the potential of ICT.

Digital Media Policy-Making: Deliberation and rule-making by governments at multiple levels of governance: localities or cities, states or provinces, nations, regions like the European Union (EU) or Mercosur (Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Venezuela), and truly international organizations like United Nations agencies.

Unequal Digital Inclusion: Refers to the gap between those who can effectively use ICT, such as the Internet, and those who cannot.

Digital Literacy: Covers the interpretation of all complex, mediated symbolic texts broadcast or published on electronic communication networks and foregrounds the technological, cultural, and historical specificity of particular media as used in particular time and places.

Network Effects: Tend to reinforce the development of monopoly or oligopoly in a number of aspects of the Internet.

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