Global village (Internet)
Global village is a term coined by
Wyndham Lewisin his book " America and Cosmic Man" (1948). However, Herbert Marshall McLuhanalso wrote about this term in his books "" (1962) and Understanding Media(1964). McLuhan describes how electronic mass mediacollapse space and time barriers in human communication, enabling people to interact and live on a global scale. In this sense, the globe has been turned into a village by the electronic mass media.
Today, the global village is mostly used as a
metaphorto describe the Internetand World Wide Web. According to McLuhan, modern communication technologies such as radio and television globalize communication by allowing users from all levels of society around the world to easily connect with each other and exchange ideas instantaneously. On the Internet, physical distance is even less of a hindrance to the real-time communicative activities of people, and therefore social spheres are greatly expanded by the openness of the web and the ease at which people can search for online communities and interact with others that share the same interests and concerns. Therefore, this technology fosters the idea of a conglomerate yet unified global community. [http://www.cios.org/encyclopedia/mcluhan/m/m.html] Due to the enhanced speed of communication online and the ability of people to read about, spread, and react to global news very rapidly, McLuhan says this forces us to become more involved with one another from countries around the world and be more aware of our global responsibilities. [http://www.aber.ac.uk/media/Students/bas9401.html] Similarly, web-connected computers enable people to link their web sites together. This new reality has implications for forming new sociological structures within the context of culture. An example of this phenomenon is The Global Sports Village [http://www.globalsportsvillage.com] .
Although McLuhan refers to it by a
toponym, the Global Village is actually a historical period, not a place. It was immediately preceded by what McLuhan calls the "Gutenberg Galaxy" (another geographical designation for a chronological period). Though its roots can be traced back to the invention of the "phonetic alphabet" (McLuhan's term for phonemic orthography), the Gutenberg Galaxy, like the Global Village that followed it, was ushered in by a technological innovation, the Gutenberg press.
However, the Gutenberg Galaxy phase of
Western Civilizationis being replaced—McLuhan is writing in the early 1960s—by what he calls "electronic interdependence," an era when electronic mediareplace the visual cultureof the Gutenberg era, producing cognitive shifts and new social organizations based on aural/oral media technologies.
There is some disagreement in the consideration of the Internet as promoting the idea of a global village. Modern theorist Glenn Willmott says McLuhan's idea of the global village is a clichéd phrase that does not take into account the corruption of the Internet by government and corporate censorship and control over information on the web (news and entertainment information in particular). [http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/view/1077/983] The notion of the
digital dividealso signifies why the idea of a global village is problematic; if not all people are connected to the Internet equally (notably minorities and the economically disadvantaged) and those that lack web access are excluded from global news and participating in online communities, then modern communication technology does not truly promote a global village as McLuhan described it for all people.
Communication media can also be used to divide people within the sphere of online communities. For example, scholars
Marshall Van Alstyneand Erik Brynjolfssonoffer a contrasting view in their paper, "Electronic Communities: Global Village or Cyberbalkans?" [http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=756445] They say that although modern communication technologies have the potential to create the unified communities reminiscent of McLuhan's idea of the Global Village, they also threaten to balkanizeor fragment communities by allowing people to easily segregate themselves into geographic and special interest groups.
Notes and references
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