Since the invention of the electric telegraph in 1831 by Joseph Henry, electric communication has been a significant piece of our society. From a casual text to an important fax electric communication has become crucial to human interaction. However, this kind of communication that has been so customary to our everyday society has also been very controversial. Unfortunately, the usage of electronics to interact has eliminated much of the more traditional forms of communication. Nonetheless, electronic is essential to almost all of our communication today.
Computer communication is extremely popular today. It involves two or more computers and is a quick, usually internet based way of communicating. There are many different types of communication via a computer, however the most common ones are:
Instant Messaging. Instant Messaging (IM) is a direct and fast form of communication that occurs over a network (usually the internet) between two or more people. IM is not to be confused with e-mail because it happens in real time, when people send each other messages using IM they are communicating much faster than they would with e-mail. In fact, they can communicate at about the same speed as they would if they were talking to each other physically.
Instant Messaging also uses and has developed its own language in a way. A series of abbreviations and “internet slang” has revolutionized modern electronic communication. This slang has also come to prominent use in text messaging and on social networking sites.
There are thousands of Instant Messaging sites and programs, however a few of the more common ones are:
Video Chat. Other than text based internet communication, there is also video communication. This is when a person speaks to a camera on their computer and the image is transmitted to another computer. This facilitates a seemingly physical conversation since each person can see the other while they talk. Video chat is made possible be either a webcam that can be attached to one’s computer or a built in camera that does not need to be attached. Video chat has revolutionized both business and personal computer communication. Messenger programs such as Skype and iChat allow users to communicate from different parts of the world as though they were only a few inches away.
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E-mail. E-mail is one of the oldest usages of electronic communication of the types we have discussed so far. It is not as fast as IM or video chat, however it is more popular among the older generation. E-mail seems to work the way a letter might, although it is sent over a network as opposed to through a mailing system. The recipient and mailer both have “e-mail addresses” and are able to send messages, pictures, videos and files through e-mail. Each e-mail address is unique in a network such as gmail or hotmail and so mail does not get mixed up. Like IM and Video Chat an e-mail account allows one to acquire a list of friends or contacts- a list of one’s acquaintances and their e-mail addresses. Unfortunately, among the younger community, e-mail has become seemingly outdated because of the more frequent use of IM, Video Chat and social networking.
Social Networking. Currently, social networking is the most popular type of internet communication. Social Networking focuses on building relationships between people, over the internet, who share similar interests or have things in common. Generally, it gives a user a profile or a page dedicated to their interests, activities or information. Then, just like the other types of communication we have seen, allows them a list of contacts or friends with whom the can communicate. Usually communication or viewing of one’s profile requires mutual consent on behalf of the viewer and the person whose page is being viewed. A few very popular social networking sites are:
The telephone seems to be a given when discussing electronic communication in modern day society. Although originally used for simply dialing and receiving calls, the telephone’s uses have spread over a wide range of functions. Cell phones can not only be used for calling but also for texting and internet applications.
Texting. Texting is an extremely popular form of electronic communication today. A text message is usually a brief message written to someone using a mobile phone. A text can include an image, video or sound along with the briefly written message. A sort of language has developed between texters of the modern world. This slang includes:
lol-laughing out loud
g2g- got to go
Some worry that this slang is detracting from the usage of proper language. Also, many worry that texting harms human interaction. The prominence of texting over talking could potentially hurt our ability to talk face-to-face hand have normal social interaction. Texting also does physical harm to our society. Texting and driving is a leading cause in teen deaths in car accidents.
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Calling. Phone calls, of course, are a part of telephones and electric communication. Few, however, understand the mechanics and intense science behind the telephone and the ability to make phone calls. According to Wikipedia, a telephone uses a microphone in the handset to convert the sound waves to electrical signals which are then sent through a telephone network to the other phone and are then converted back to sound waves that can be understood by the ear. Telephone calls are extremely important to society and calling is much more similar to actually talking than texting or instant messaging. Telephone calls also make fast communication more possible while keeping it at a more personal and human level.
Telephones and the Internet. As telephones became more and more high-tech and gained applications and more software, it is natural that they should also have internet. Many phones these days have similar functions to computers except with fewer capabilities and the ability to make and receive phone calls. Unfortunately, however, the uses of media on mobile phones and the near constant availability of such media contributes to the media craze in our society and the problem many have with the over usage of media.
Other Electronic Communication. Telephones and computers are not the only electronic devices used to communicate. There are many other devices (Often connected to telephones or computers) that also provide a means to interact electronically.
Voicemail. When someone calls someone else, whether it is via a cell phone or telephone, and the receiver does not pick up, the caller has the option of leaving a message for the receiver. This is called a voicemail or answering machine. According to Wikipedia voice mail messages are stored on hard disk drives and messages left by the caller are recorded. When the owner of the voicemail wishes to retrieve that message, he or she must simply call the voicemail. Although voicemail did help people leave messages in their personal lives, voicemail had its most significant impact on the business world. It reduced the need for secretaries because now an actual person was not needed to take messages and it allowed for more personalized and discreet messages to be left for the receiver.
Faxing. A fax or facsimile is a document sent over a telephone line. According to Wikipedia, faxing was first very prominent in the mid 1980’s when they became affordable and more feasible for homeowners to purchase. Faxing works in many ways the same as calling. Two people have fax numbers and one sends a document to the other over a telephone line. Although some people own private fax machines, they are primarily used in the business world to transport sensitive documents that may not be safe to allow on the internet.
Printers. Although printers by themselves do not seem to be electronic communication devices, they facilitate many communications that are very important to us. For example, scanning allows us to take a document and put it on our computer. We can then proceed to send the document out to people through the internet, which we would not be capable of doing without the assistance of the printer. Printing also allows us to communicate. Objects printed can be sent through mail, which allows us to communicate to other people. So, although printers are not in themselves electronic devices used to communicate, they are often used as a means to communicate.
The importance of electronic communication in our society is incomparable to any other recent development. It has revolutionized communication in both the professional and personal spheres in human interaction. It is very important that people understand electronic communication and how to use it because of its significance to everyday life. Hopefully this paper has helped you to understand the details of electronic communication.
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