Howard Rheingold introduces the concept of computer-mediated communications (CMC) in Virtual Communities: Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier. CRM is basically all of the computers and the switched telecommunication networks that carry the information back and forth between people. The Net as we know and Rheingold tells us, is an informal term for the loosely interconnected computer networks that use CMC technology to link people around the world into public discussions. It is these discussions that are shaping the way in which our World functions on all levels. These discussions are carried on through the Net through a number of people and after enough time begin these people, using human feelings, form personal relationships in cyberspace.
Rheingold then goes in to discussion how important it is for these communities and discussion to continue into the future. He states that because of the potential influence on so many people’s beliefs and perceptions, the future of the Net is connected to the future of community, democracy, education, science, and intellectual life. This means that in order for the people’s voice to be heard we need to continue to foster these relationships and discussions online. The future of the Internet has become way too important for us to let specialists and special interest groups to influence how it is used in our daily lives. Rheingold then discusses that as the Internet becomes more and more popular and influential, the people need to be having a say in how funds are being applied to the further development of the Internet. With this in mind the people can change their communities, democracy, education, sciences and intellectual life all with the power of the Net. The voice of the people needs to be heard though. Rheingold then goes into stating that if we do not develop a vision and let our voice be heard, the future will be shaped for us by large commercial and political power holders.
I don’t think one specific example can make the point that Rheingold was trying to make. The peoples voices are all around us in different situations that we have all heard of in the past. I mean we are using YouTube to help influence political campaigns and debates. We are using blogs to discuss political activities that the major news networks pick up on. These blogs are also discussing issues that have to do with the internet. We have formed communities to foster our beliefs through Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn and a variety of other sources. We find one another through these websites, form friendships, marriages, and form together to have a common voice on certain issues. We as ordinary citizens are shaping the way in which we use the internet and letting ourselves be heard as to how we want to continue to have the internet be used to let our voices be heard. If we were not to have had all of these different websites to facilitate this, the internet could very well be shaped by these large commercial companies into the future.