Communications Essay, Research Paper

The extent to which communication has taken over our lives is unbelievable at

times. Everywhere people look now, there is another "toy," or

"gadget" trying to make our lives easier. But do these new gizmos and

gadgets truly improve our lives? Most people would say that yes, they do. But

when taking a critical approach to this issue, the results may not be what you

might think. In this day and age of constantly improving advancements of

technology, it is interesting to examine what we as a society want out of our


Many of the products out currently claim to be "on the cutting edge of

technology." In fact, most of the advertisements used to promote the

services claim that their technologies will make your life so much better that

it is imperative that everyone have what they are offering. For example, in the

Bose technology advertisement, the marketers claim that their technology can

"be virtually indistinguishable from magic." Their products are a new

line of speakers that are so small that they can fit in the palm of your hand.

They are designed, "For your home. Your car. Your business. Your

life." The technologists that created this technology converged the idea of

having a home stereo or a car stereo, into a "personal music center."

The technologists are taking a giant leap, assuming that we as a society WANT

and NEED this sort of thing.

The WordPerfect Office 2000 ad also claims that it has "cutting-edge

features." This advertisement is not as straightforward as the Bose

Speakers ad, but it too assumes that people need to have this new technology in

their lives in order to make their lives better. The main headline of this

advertisement reads: "One day, I will prove that Karl Marx created Adam

Smith in a secret underwater bio lab." As we all know, Karl Marx was a

powerful philosopher who wanted to create complete equality. In this ad, Adam

Smith is the average man. What the organizations are trying to promote is the

idea of equality: their technology allows even the most normal (Smith) consumers

to have access to the same things as great teachers and philosophers have. They

are two entirely different people with one technology that ties them together.

According to Nicholas Negroponte, in Being Digital, the technological changes in

our world appeal only to a small population of the people. This advertisement

goes against that statement, arguing that anyone can use it. It allows everyone

to "wrestle with ideas-not technology."

Many will argue that technology is more of a hassle for what it is worth.

However, Negroponte says that the point of technology is:

not just to give people bigger screens, better sound quality, and

easier-to-use graphical input devices. It is to make computers that you know,

learn about your needs, and understand verbal and nonverbal languages.

The question we as consumers must ask is if our quality of life will improve

because of the advances. The idea of convergence is that when technologies are

combined together, our lives as humans become easier. In some cases, this is

true. But not always. By all of these added "conveniences," are we

cutting short our potential? Does it teach our society to be lazy? One of the

greatest things that we have in our lives is our ability to communicate

interpersonally with each other. To share ideas and talk about them. The

WordPerfect ad is a perfect illustration of how our society is becoming more

detached from one another through the use of technology. There is no interaction

with this program. It insinuates that when you type the ideas into this program,

thousands of new ones are generated from it.

A lot of times, advertisements leave consumers asking many questions after

seeing the ad. In both the Bose and WordPerfect ads, there were unanswered

questions. Take for example the Bose Speaker ad. The ad does not tell you

anywhere how it works nor does it tell you how much it costs. Also, the ad

speaks of an "entire rack of components." Nowhere do we know what

these components are. In the Word Office ad, one of the greatest things left

unanswered was simply how the program works. There is nothing in the ad that

explains why this technology is better than a normal word processing component

on the computer.

When these technologies are being developed, it would make much sense for the

technologists, the organizations/marketers, and the technology users to speak

amongst themselves to develop a technology that is the best and appropriate one.

This theory is known as innovative dialog. When innovative dialog does not take

place, the outcomes are unexpected. Each component in the innovative dialog

triangle has a specific purpose in the group. The technologists are simply

trying to create the best technology possible, regardless of its practicality.

The organizations are in it for economic purposes. They want money, and they

will promote their product to get it. The technology user, the consumer, wants

the technology to improve his/ her quality of life. The "Gilbert"

cartoon strip by Scott Adams is a humorous representation of how the dialog

between technologists and organizations go. Basically, the marketers want their

product to seem to be able to anything at all that the consumer would want. The

technologists though are not capable of creating that. They can only move one

step at a time. Gilbert says, "I could write a program that makes fish

appear on the computer screen." The marketer replies, "Yeah?A lot of

people want that." And this is completely true. Society wants the best

thing for their money, even if they have no use for it.

The two advertisements are good examples to illustrate what organizations try

to do to coerce consumers into buying products. The speakers and the word

processing program do not do anything spectacular. And they certainly do not

make lives a significant amount better. But the ads themselves do a great job in

making it seem like the products will make life grander. The cartoon does a fine

job in tying in what the technologists and the organizations think when they are

creating and promoting their product.


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