To discover how the affordances of a networked media culture enhance online communication we must first understand the term ‘affordance’. The following youtube video explains the affordance of an object as simply what you do with it.
As seen in the youtube video, Don Norman explains the cylinder object as an affordance for multiple uses (for sitting, for standing, for hiding).
Key aspects of a networked media culture are multimedia; like the YouTube clip above, hyperlinks and the ability to share. The networked media culture continues to evolve as technology advances, and the use of these key aspects greatly enhance the online experience. Just like teaching a child to read is made easier through pictures, the use of networked media enhances online communication.
Marc Prensky defines the generation growing up with digital technology as Digital Natives. This generation is extremely adapt to changing technology. Prensky says “Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics before their text rather than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypertext). They function best when networked.” Prensky refers to the generation not born in the digital world but having adopted the technology as Digital Immigrants. He explains that “students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” Therefore Digital Immigrants should adapt their teaching to meet the new requirements of learning. Halavais (2008) also mentions that hyperlinks provide the reader instant access to various topics and information which is obviously more readily accessible than static references.
Social networking is the perfect example of a networked media culture, Facebook being the most popular social networking platform with over 1 billion active users worldwide. Facebook was established to connect people, therefore all generations are attracted to the user-friendly platform. Since being established in 2004 Facebook has continually transformed. Users can connect with old friends, they can follow their heroes (through fan pages), they can ‘like’ pictures and status updates and they can share information as text, pictures and videos. It is a user generated content virtual community but due to the high volume of users and the personal information displayed it has now become the perfect channel for advertising. The statistics of Facebook users and uses are proof that networked media culture enhances online communication…1 billion people can’t be wrong.
As Haythornthwaite discusses in SOCIAL NETWORKS AND INTERNET CONNECTIVITY EFFECTS each type of social network user is impacted differently. Distant learning is more common due to easier communication, working relationships are more efficient and family connections are stronger.
“More recently, the Internet has been blamed for disconnecting people from local, family interaction, drawing them into online relationships with people of unknown and unconfirmed identity. Yet, such ideas are countered by those who see the Internet as presenting the opportunity for keeping connections with family and friends when away at school (LaRose et al. 2001) or after moving to a new neighbourhood.”
With the use of these affordances information is easier to find and share, creating new ideas and provoking conversations. Hyperlinks provide the reader instant access to relevant topics more accessible and efficient compared to static information (Halavais 2008). People can connect to locations across the world in an instant and news spreads faster than ever (see below video 2:47).
These affordances improve the online communication experience greatly and will continue to do so as technology and social media develop.
Haythornthwaite, C. (2005) Social networks and Internet connectivity effects, Information, Communication & Society, 8:2, 125-147, DOI: 10.1080/13691180500146185
Halavais, A.(2008). The hyperlink as organizing principle. In J. Turow & L. Tsui (EDs), The hyperlinked society: Questioning connections in the digital age (pp.39-55). USA: The University of Michigan Press.