This is my first ever post and what better way to start than to blog about blogging. For me, it feels like such a big deal to finally exchange one solitary form of expression into the vast digital cosmos that is the blogosphere – it could quite possibly be a life-changing moment in fact. Yet ultimately it feels insignificant because of the blogosphere’s enormous and ever-expanding size, let alone the immeasurable expanse of the internet altogether. To put this into perspective, there were – as of last year – around 170 million identified blogs, with approximately one million new posts being produced every day. Along with this, there is an even greater number of people using social media (Facebook alone has well over 800 million users, 50% of whom log onto it everyday). And this is the eerie realisation I come to entering the club: that I am merely one of the millions and millions of people expressing themselves on the internet every second, every minute, every day.
Beyond the overwhelming appreciation of my utter irrelevance on the overall scheme of things in the digital universe, I can also see two major implications of its perpetually expanding vastness: firstly, that the world is increasingly becoming more interconnected and its citizens are becoming closer and closer (yet equally, in a paradoxical way, more distant) and secondly, that the blogosphere and social media are the newest installments of the always-evolving and adapting marketplace of ideas…
It’s no secret that the world, and its human population, are becoming closer and more interconnected as globalisation and the rapid advances in technologies, in particular communication technologies, are breaking down physical boundaries and bringing people from across the globe together. Now it has become incredibly easier for my generation to speak to relatives overseas, or even visit them, compared to previous generations. The digital universe, including the blogosphere and the social media, are but patent examples of the globalisation phenomenon. So at the same time as feeling existentially dwarfed by the immensity of the digital universe, I also feel like it’s a good thing that people are now much more at liberty to communicate with anyone else across the world, and thanks to this, physical – and social – barriers are being brought down.
However, the digital world has also brought with it problems; after all, it is still just a reflection of the realities of the social world – whether they be good or bad. As well as bringing people closer together, social media are keeping people apart. As ironic as it sounds while I’m sitting on a computer writing this, new trends are looming of people losing social skills by becoming too dependent on social media for communication. Along with this, people are becoming lazier with their communication. This doesn’t just relate to language and grammar – although in my opinion, social media are reinforcing people not to care about them – but also communicating in person, in physical social environments. Additionally, another bi-product of the communication revolution is the creation of but another class divide – this time it’s a digital one. While social media may be bringing people with access to communications technology closer together, it is alienating them from people without such access. Countries with the technological development appropriate enough to maintain effective digital services are enjoying its advantages, whilst generally disregarding the massive technological gap which separates them from less developed countries. I guess along with enjoying the benefits of globalisation, we have to deal with its potential problems and hopefully learn from them in the meantime.
Moreover, the growth of the digital world, and indeed the blogosphere and social media, is providing yet another, more effective platform for the marketplace of ideas to prosper. The concept of the “marketplace of ideas” came as an analogy to portray the realm of expressions and communication – and thus of thoughts and ideas – like the marketplace in economics. Both should be places, according to libertarians at least, where social interactions are free to allow for the best of such interactions to emerge victorious out of competition with the others. In other words, just like how the products and services which people voluntarily desire most become more valuable in a free market, the expressions and ideas which people voluntarily believe to be more true become more successful in the marketplace of ideas. The digital universe, and especially the blogosphere, is the newest platform with which ideas can perform in the marketplace. Blogs are now the most effective and direct way for people to contribute their opinions and ideas and the most effective and direct way to have these opinions and ideas tested and contrasted with competing ones.
What’s interesting about this is that the blogosphere and social media, or the internet in general, currently represent the pinnacle of the evolution of communication. As civilisation has progressed, humans have increasingly become more capable of communicating to the point where we are now able to communicate with one another from anywhere in the world without even having to speak with one another, as discussed above. We have evolved from being able to communicate from the barest form of semiotics to being able to master the most sophisticated of communication tools. We can sum up this all up as the evolution of being able to communicate through physical cues and body language, to developing the capacity to talk and create languages, to being able to consolidate these languages through the ability to write, to eventually inventing the technologies to broadcast these correspondences, such as the printing press, radio, television and finally, the internet. I would even go as far as saying the first step to being able to communicate was developing the capacity to think, as how could we be able to correspond without being able to think and talk to ourselves in the first place? Therefore, in this light it seems as if the internet, the digital world, is quite possibly the fullest extension of our very minds; it is the fruit of hundreds of thousands of years of the evolution of thought and communication.
As an aspiring journalist and writer in 2012, I am debuting in the blogosphere and beginning my professional journey at the crossroads of a universal human adventure which has unwound over thousands of years. I am now leaving my trace in the unfathomably huge digital universe. I am now joining in in the now fully-fledged digital conversation which is consuming the developed world and which I hope will include the developing world in the future. I am now participating in the marketplace of ideas, presenting my opinions and thoughts and waiting for people to critique them so that we can all gain further knowledge from our interactions.