Power to the (Connected) People?

Or even power to the connected people.

I have been reading quite a bit about the recent uprisings in the Middle East and this has got me thinking about the way information and data have been coming into our news reports. What really sparked this off was a live feed from the Guardian website which shows the variety of sources the information stems from (Link to the article can be found at the bottom of the page ). Facebook, twitter, youtube as well as live feed video websites are but some of them.

These sources are not too different from the type of information that was being transmitted at the time of the Tsunami in Hawaii. The predicted hour at which the Tsunami was said to hit the island was preceeded by a wave of live feeds from the inhabitants. I remember watching the events as they happened via a web cam and a Skype connection. These were not reporters sending in the feeds, but the general public. In a sense this illustrates the power of communication the internet has today. If you are one of the people connected then you have the power to communicate your message to a global audience and in some cases this can be more influential than the ‘official’ methods of communication. The news agencies seem to have embraced this to an extent. The BBC for one has for a long time now urged people with relevant information to get their point accross via e-mail, or twitter. The same can be seen in the comments section of the Guardian website where employees or journalists that work for the Guardian are asking people on the ground to get in touch with any updates. This really is an empowering to the internet user. Of course this in itself has a downside as the proportion of people without internet access is still much greater, however it is a new channel of communication which I for one am glad to see the media embracing.

Although this takes us away from languages, it is still relevant in a sense because the internet can be used in language development in the same way. The aim in language acquisition is communication. Well what better way to communicate than via the web which is connecting people on a global scale.

What the internet can give language learners:

  • A realistic dimension students can see the applications of language in a practical sense as it allows them to access information and communicate with people, which may have been impossible with a language barrier
  • Access to sources the web, as can be seen from my collection of useful websites (still growing), has a multitude of useful information that can actually help you learn languages and its free (apart from having to put up with adverts which pay for it all)
  • Cultural informationby this I mean the ability to tap into the artistic culture, so access to famous musicians, films, authors and sometimes even access to their works- take Spotify for example. After having listened to Francis Cabrel and Manu Chao it then recommended Charles Trent to me and I am enchanted

(For anyone who hasn’t heard of Charles Trent: Charles Trenet – Y’a de la joie I am afraid I only have him on Spotify at the moment so only users will be able to have a listen.)

To all those daring to speak out today, whatever the language.

  1.  http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/blog/2011/feb/16/middle-east-protests-live-updates

About computeinanotherlanguage

QMUL Student doing languages and computing :)
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