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Internet and Identity

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Applying Thompson and Carr

Clive Thompson and Nicholas Carr both agree that technology affects how we think; however, they view technology from different perspectives.  Thompson believes that technology is positive.  He sees the computer as an extension and tool for our brain.  A computer is able to calculate and iterate nearly an endless amount of information unlike our brain.  Thompson says that we are developing a new way of thinking by harnessing and creating new technologies.

 Meanwhile, Carr is insistent that technology is constantly increasing its absorption into our lives, and selves, and destroying our brains.  Carr argues that each technology, whether that is a map, clock, or computer, sets a new set of rules for our brain to follow.  The advancement in technology is important, but often it is not the most important part of the technology.  Carr says that it is the intellectual ethic, or what we learn from the message of the medium, that can have the most profound effect on our brain

The internet is an information rich environment.  It creates a compulsory impulse to continually inquire information from others.  Carr argues if we are constantly dividing our attention, then we cannot process information and move it from our short-term memory to our long-term memory.  The more we rely on technology as our crutch, the harder it will be to work without it.  Carr says we need to make an intentional effort to build our working memory.  Working memory is connected to short-term memory.  The working memory is able to take parts of our short-term memory and long-term memory and connect them.  The working memory is what formulates ideas and connects thoughts from both the past and the present. 

         Thompson calls collaboration with technology a “transactive memory.”  People are able to use the internet to recover information and connect their thoughts with the assistance of the computer.  By using technology as a crutch, we are able to put our mind to more important problems and rely on technology as a resource to pull out the data that we need to access.  Thompson sees this as beneficial rather than destructive.  Our personal memory may get smaller, but we have the ability to access data like we have never had before. 

         Our mind is left not as a storage device, but as a machine that connects the dots of the data.  We are able to focus more on being thinkers and creators by not worrying about storing and remembering information in our own heads.  Electronic media allows us to collaborate with each other and network, but it also allows us to expand our memory and resources.  Like cyborgs, we end up becoming stronger, faster, and more efficient with the collaboration of technology. 

         One of the big problems with having an overload of information on the internet and a computer is the struggle to filter out what a person needs and doesn’t need.

Thompson argues that ambient awareness, or the persistent online contact, can help to build awareness for others and their thoughts and feelings.  This social thinking generates a collective environment that can help to create a bond between people and their profiles.  People are constantly tweeting, blogging, stumbling, pinning, liking, posting, snapchatting, checking-in, and intstagramming.  At what point does a tweet, or what ever you will, become virtually meaningless?  We are constantly refreshing our feed to find out the newest information, whether it is important or not.  We find ourselves in a need to belong with our groups on social media.  Businesses capitalize on the need for belonging through their presence on social media sites, like Twitter. 

For example, companies, like Dior Homme, Coca-Cola, and Bud Light, have moved a large majority of their advertising campaign onto the online setting.  Dior’s most recent advertisement featured Twilight actor Robert Pattinson.  The video hit twitter with the hashtag #DiorRob Quickly, the advertisement video went viral and has gained 19.5 million views.  Companies have been encouraging live tweeting to create online conversation about their products.  During this year’s Super Bowl, fifty-seven percent of the commercials included a hashtag in their film.  Companies are capitalizing off of people to share their product and move their company and product into a trending topic.

Television companies have begun promoting their shows by placing a hashtag at the bottom of their screen during the airing of the show.  The allows for discussion and live-tweeting on Twitter.  While not every business is able to promote their product on the primetime television, smaller businesses have been carefully placing hashtags on billboard signs, posters, and their own products.  By placing the hashtag in their advertisements, businesses allow for consumers to become more aware of their product.  A proper and fitting hashtag helps to build brand recognition, enhance advertisement campaigns, and impact customer loyalty.  

(Here is a link pertaining to harnessing hashtags for your business.)

How effective is a hashtag?  Looking at the statistics from the Superbowl tweets, most advertisements that featured a tweet did not have that large of a number of people that used the hashtag in the tweet compared to the number of viewers that watched the ad.  Advertisements have always found a way to move themselves into our cultural dialogue, whether is be through jingles, characters, slogans, or hashtags.

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