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What technology has changed social interaction the most? 
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Post What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Last night at Friday's after work drinks I was having an almost heated, very animated discussion with my boss about which technological change has had the greatest impact on social interaction over the last eighty years.

I thought the internet would be first and then possibly television, thinking they paved the way for everything else. My boss thought this was nonsense. He said before the internet there was posted mail and before television people listened to the radio.

He thought that the iphone was incomparable to anything else, that it was used so frequently by so many people that most people felt "lost" without having it as an essential tool 24 7, and that it had changed society so much in the past ten or so years nothing else was comparable. I argued people relied on their mobile phones in the 90's as much as today's generation relies on their iphone, but I was missing his point on social interaction.

I know this isn't an overly deep conversation but the more I think on it I'm pretty sure he is right.

Any thoughts or insight would be appreciated.

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 4:39 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
The Internet.

Really, nothing else compares. The the iPhone itself isn't anything special. People buy it for its mobile internet capabilities, and its (relatively) clean user interface to use those capabilities. The moment high-speed, reliable internet was available to both the home and mobile devices, there was no turning back. In terms of raw power and potential, nothing; not TV, radio, post, telephone or anything is able to approach the Internet.


Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:12 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
The automobile.

I realize it was invented well before the time period we're talking about, but it was right around the beginning of that period that motor vehicle ownership began a steep upward climb that hasn't even come close to leveling off ever since. What matters is not just the capabilities afforded by technology, but democratic access to it.

Imagine social interaction with and without motorized transportation. Now apply the difference to society as a whole.

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Fri Feb 22, 2013 6:54 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Many folks claim the printing press is what caused the biggest advance in communications.


In the 'net vs smart phone comparison, uh... I'm not sure what he's reaching for here, but the phone is a tool to get on the 'net, and without the 'net it's just a phone and clock.

The 'net has made a lot of things easier, congregating, communicating, researching, meeting, but it was the printed word that was responsible for literacy. No reading = no social interaction beyond conversation. Exchange of ideas would be relegated to in-person or town crier.

-EDIT: Sorry, just read the OP and saw "last 80 years".
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Fri Feb 22, 2013 9:13 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
wisey wrote:
I argued people relied on their mobile phones in the 90's as much as today's generation relies on their iphone, but I was missing his point on social interaction.


This isn't really true. Well, yes, I suppose that people that had cell phones in the 90s relied on them about as much as people do now, but they were still fairly uncommon until about 10-12 years ago.


Sun Feb 24, 2013 2:37 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
dps wrote:
wisey wrote:
I argued people relied on their mobile phones in the 90's as much as today's generation relies on their iphone, but I was missing his point on social interaction.


This isn't really true. Well, yes, I suppose that people that had cell phones in the 90s relied on them about as much as people do now, but they were still fairly uncommon until about 10-12 years ago.


Mobile phones were uncommon until 2001? Everyone I knew and worked with had one by 1996. The older generation didn't have them but I wouldn't say they were uncommon.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:19 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Awkward Beard Man wrote:
The Internet.

Really, nothing else compares. The the iPhone itself isn't anything special. People buy it for its mobile internet capabilities, and its (relatively) clean user interface to use those capabilities. The moment high-speed, reliable internet was available to both the home and mobile devices, there was no turning back. In terms of raw power and potential, nothing; not TV, radio, post, telephone or anything is able to approach the Internet.



This is a really board generalization but I think people buy the iphone (or samsung galaxy or whatever) to call people obviously, to text their friends, especially people under the age of say, twenty. People under the age of twenty are so addicted or accustomed to using their iphone it's a compulsive accessory. People use the internet predominantly for work or for sites they want to check when their home, to learn something from or as a pastime. Having the internet on the phone seems essential nowadays but it’s still the thought of needing the phone in the first place.

When I leave my apartment I need my car keys, wallet and iphone, but I don't really need my iphone to get through the day, it's something I've become accustomed too. Sometimes when I catch up with friends I have to remind them that we don't see each other that much and it's pretty rude to keep texting and checking their phone every five minutes. I don't like to watch a film with my younger brother and his partner because every few minutes they are on their phone, usually texting someone.

I know this sounds like I’m bitching which is ridiculous because I use my iphone as much as anyone. After giving it a bit of thought though, I don’t think anything has changed society so quickly.

The internet is what I initially thought but I don’t think it has affected the end user and the way they interact daily the way iphone's have.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:37 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
I can see smartphones eventually having the effect that people are talking about, and I can also see the iPhone rising as an icon of have vs. have not in civilizations worldwide. I don't think it's truly shifted social interaction on its own yet.

Maybe once we're at the point where there's nobody left who remembers that a phone is specifically a thing you put up to your ear to talk to people... or once we're at the point where we stop calling it a phone and start calling it a Mother Box.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 7:52 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
I don't really get a lot of this Iphone talk to be honest. It hasn't really reached out to developing countries like mine as it has to the more developed countries of the west. I am from a pretty well off family in a developing country and most people don't use an Iphone. All of them use smartphones though, just not an Iphone. I myself use an HTC Android device, and I don't think the Iphone offers me anything superior to what my current phone does. Sure, I've heard arguments that the Iphone was the first phone to really perfect the concept of the smartphone, but as a geek, I don't buy that either. Smartphones were prevalent much before Apple perfected the concept, and I get irritated whenever they get all the praise for that. The Iphone surely isn't the most influential technology of our generation.

That would be the Internet. I don't think anything we do in today's world would've been possible without the advent of the internet. The three major companies that improve social interaction through various means are Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And all of them are, for all intents and purposes, Dot Com companies. They wouldn't have come into being without the internet. Let's take some common tasks we do today. We want to know about any topic that is under discussion anywhere, what do we do? We Google it. How do we do it? Using the Internet. One of our friends has gone skint and is asking for a transfer. What do we do? We open our bank's internet banking website and send electronic money to him in a matter of seconds. How? Again, the Internet. We are scouting new applicants for a job opening and we want to know their profile. What do we do? We Google them and check out their Facebook profiles. We're lost in the middle of nowhere and want to find out where we are. Quick, go to Google Maps and use GPS. Hell, people talk about the connectivity of Apple and Android devices without really knowing that it is the power of the world wide web that makes it all possible.

To address that last point, I was listening to a Google engineer speak about how he visited Africa once and saw how they were selling phones there. There was one connectivity plan that came with free Facebook and another that came with free Internet. And all of them were choosing the free Facebook plan. And he was confused because as we all know Facebook wouldn't be possible without the Internet. What it actually meant was with the free Facebook plan, if they used anything other than Facebook, it would cost them money and most of them wanted only Facebook anyway. He actually said this as an example of how a good user interface can make everything that is underlying invisible to the end user.

The reason I brought it up was because we're at that point where the Internet has become almost invisible to our daily lives. Those people in Africa use Facebook without really knowing that it is the internet that is enabling them to do so. I've seen countless technologically impotent people use Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. without understanding that they're all connected through the world wide web. They don't understand IP addresses, HTTP, and all that bullshit, they just know that they're connected to anywhere on the planet. That is what the Internet has become. It has become part and parcel of our lives. It is something that defines our everyday use. I honestly feel we would be lost if one day the Internet decided to shut itself down. We'd be well and truly fucked.

Also, I don't see any major nation wide conventions happening for mobile phone technology or Apple devices. Yet all the governments come together to discuss how to control the growth of the internet and what regulations will be required in the future. Hell, in discussions I have among my geek circle, we usually think it has become a necessity to be placed alongside food, water, and air. That may be an exaggeration, but I am sure sometime in the future, when everything is connected as shown in those science fiction films, that's where we'll be at.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:57 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
I'm going to say the personal computer.

The Internet is fine and good. It was a military technology at first, but we really didn't see the explosion of the Internet until mass amounts of people were able to own a personal computer. The Internet needs a delivery device. The PC is that delivery device.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:35 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Sexual Chocolate wrote:
I'm going to say the personal computer.

The Internet is fine and good. It was a military technology at first, but we really didn't see the explosion of the Internet until mass amounts of people were able to own a personal computer. The Internet needs a delivery device. The PC is that delivery device.
I think there's a good debate to be had here. I was playing with the idea of personal computer as well but seeing as we're discussing social interaction in specific, the obvious choice would be internet.

Look at it this way: Without the personal computer, the internet is the largest maze of wires connecting nothing to nothing. Without the internet, the personal computer is just a big box with very little usage. (Honestly nearly everything we do with the computer nowadays requires an internet connection.) But then, with the advent of mobile devices, the personal computer isn't really a necessity for social interaction anymore. Nowadays, only hardcore geeks use personal computers, the rest have moved on to laptops, mobiles, and, more recently, tablets. But one thing is a constant no matter what your device of choice is: Internet. It is the only technology that binds all these disparate devices together through its various forms: LAN, WAN, Wi-Fi, 3G, EDGE, HSDPA and whatever comes in the future. Therefore, I believe my theory about the Internet still holds.

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Sun Feb 24, 2013 12:03 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
I'm definitely gonna say the PC as well, I had to beg my parents to get a computer and when they finally did, our lives definitely took a drastic change as it made many everyday tasks so much easier.


Sun Feb 24, 2013 1:42 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Yeah, but a personal computer without the Internet doesn't really allow for much Social Interaction.


Sun Feb 24, 2013 8:30 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
wisey wrote:
dps wrote:
wisey wrote:
I argued people relied on their mobile phones in the 90's as much as today's generation relies on their iphone, but I was missing his point on social interaction.


This isn't really true. Well, yes, I suppose that people that had cell phones in the 90s relied on them about as much as people do now, but they were still fairly uncommon until about 10-12 years ago.


Mobile phones were uncommon until 2001? Everyone I knew and worked with had one by 1996. The older generation didn't have them but I wouldn't say they were uncommon.


My understanding is that the US lagged behind other developed countries in changing over to cell phones (possibly because we had a more developed network of land lines?); they took longer to become the norm here.


Sun Feb 24, 2013 11:26 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Ken wrote:
I can see smartphones eventually having the effect that people are talking about, and I can also see the iPhone rising as an icon of have vs. have not in civilizations worldwide. I don't think it's truly shifted social interaction on its own yet.

Maybe once we're at the point where there's nobody left who remembers that a phone is specifically a thing you put up to your ear to talk to people... or once we're at the point where we stop calling it a phone and start calling it a Mother Box.



I relayed a lot of the points on this thread to the person who convinced me the iphone (or whatever phone they carried with them... I have a galaxy) had changed social interaction the most.

He said he was talking about 50 years down the track; the way a generation usually remembers previous ones, in line with what your saying Ken could and possibly (and or probably) be the way the 00''s are defined.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:34 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
I don't really get a lot of this Iphone talk to be honest. It hasn't really reached out to developing countries like mine as it has to the more developed countries of the west. I am from a pretty well off family in a developing country and most people don't use an Iphone. All of them use smartphones though, just not an Iphone. I myself use an HTC Android device, and I don't think the Iphone offers me anything superior to what my current phone does. Sure, I've heard arguments that the Iphone was the first phone to really perfect the concept of the smartphone, but as a geek, I don't buy that either. Smartphones were prevalent much before Apple perfected the concept, and I get irritated whenever they get all the praise for that. The Iphone surely isn't the most influential technology of our generation.

That would be the Internet. I don't think anything we do in today's world would've been possible without the advent of the internet. The three major companies that improve social interaction through various means are Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And all of them are, for all intents and purposes, Dot Com companies. They wouldn't have come into being without the internet. Let's take some common tasks we do today. We want to know about any topic that is under discussion anywhere, what do we do? We Google it. How do we do it? Using the Internet. One of our friends has gone skint and is asking for a transfer. What do we do? We open our bank's internet banking website and send electronic money to him in a matter of seconds. How? Again, the Internet. We are scouting new applicants for a job opening and we want to know their profile. What do we do? We Google them and check out their Facebook profiles. We're lost in the middle of nowhere and want to find out where we are. Quick, go to Google Maps and use GPS. Hell, people talk about the connectivity of Apple and Android devices without really knowing that it is the power of the world wide web that makes it all possible.

To address that last point, I was listening to a Google engineer speak about how he visited Africa once and saw how they were selling phones there. There was one connectivity plan that came with free Facebook and another that came with free Internet. And all of them were choosing the free Facebook plan. And he was confused because as we all know Facebook wouldn't be possible without the Internet. What it actually meant was with the free Facebook plan, if they used anything other than Facebook, it would cost them money and most of them wanted only Facebook anyway. He actually said this as an example of how a good user interface can make everything that is underlying invisible to the end user.

The reason I brought it up was because we're at that point where the Internet has become almost invisible to our daily lives. Those people in Africa use Facebook without really knowing that it is the internet that is enabling them to do so. I've seen countless technologically impotent people use Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. without understanding that they're all connected through the world wide web. They don't understand IP addresses, HTTP, and all that bullshit, they just know that they're connected to anywhere on the planet. That is what the Internet has become. It has become part and parcel of our lives. It is something that defines our everyday use. I honestly feel we would be lost if one day the Internet decided to shut itself down. We'd be well and truly fucked.

Also, I don't see any major nation wide conventions happening for mobile phone technology or Apple devices. Yet all the governments come together to discuss how to control the growth of the internet and what regulations will be required in the future. Hell, in discussions I have among my geek circle, we usually think it has become a necessity to be placed alongside food, water, and air. That may be an exaggeration, but I am sure sometime in the future, when everything is connected as shown in those science fiction films, that's where we'll be at.


It’s impossible and ridiculous to argue with your facts. The highlighted parts are equally excellent and relevant IMO.

The internet has defined us, period.

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 11:58 am
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
And we wouldn't be able to use the internet (at least not to the extent that we do) without inventions such as optical fibres, satellites and, obviously, computers, all of which have been invented in the past 80 years. (Yes, I'm aware of Babbage's analytical engine, but that was mechanical).

It's fine debating what kind of impact the internet has had on communication, but I suspect that most of you young folks tend to overestimate its importance because a) you are too young to remember a time when people didn't own personal computers and b) you are using the internet a lot

wisey wrote:
Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
That would be the Internet. I don't think anything we do in today's world would've been possible without the advent of the internet. The three major companies that improve social interaction through various means are Google, Facebook, and Twitter. And all of them are, for all intents and purposes, Dot Com companies. They wouldn't have come into being without the internet. Let's take some common tasks we do today. We want to know about any topic that is under discussion anywhere, what do we do? We Google it. How do we do it? Using the Internet. One of our friends has gone skint and is asking for a transfer. What do we do? We open our bank's internet banking website and send electronic money to him in a matter of seconds. How? Again, the Internet. We are scouting new applicants for a job opening and we want to know their profile. What do we do? We Google them and check out their Facebook profiles. We're lost in the middle of nowhere and want to find out where we are. Quick, go to Google Maps and use GPS. Hell, people talk about the connectivity of Apple and Android devices without really knowing that it is the power of the world wide web that makes it all possible.

To address that last point, I was listening to a Google engineer speak about how he visited Africa once and saw how they were selling phones there. There was one connectivity plan that came with free Facebook and another that came with free Internet. And all of them were choosing the free Facebook plan. And he was confused because as we all know Facebook wouldn't be possible without the Internet. What it actually meant was with the free Facebook plan, if they used anything other than Facebook, it would cost them money and most of them wanted only Facebook anyway. He actually said this as an example of how a good user interface can make everything that is underlying invisible to the end user.

The reason I brought it up was because we're at that point where the Internet has become almost invisible to our daily lives. Those people in Africa use Facebook without really knowing that it is the internet that is enabling them to do so. I've seen countless technologically impotent people use Facebook, Twitter, Google etc. without understanding that they're all connected through the world wide web. They don't understand IP addresses, HTTP, and all that bullshit, they just know that they're connected to anywhere on the planet. That is what the Internet has become. It has become part and parcel of our lives. It is something that defines our everyday use. I honestly feel we would be lost if one day the Internet decided to shut itself down. We'd be well and truly fucked.

Also, I don't see any major nation wide conventions happening for mobile phone technology or Apple devices. Yet all the governments come together to discuss how to control the growth of the internet and what regulations will be required in the future. Hell, in discussions I have among my geek circle, we usually think it has become a necessity to be placed alongside food, water, and air. That may be an exaggeration, but I am sure sometime in the future, when everything is connected as shown in those science fiction films, that's where we'll be at.


It’s impossible and ridiculous to argue with your facts. The highlighted parts are equally excellent and relevant IMO.

The internet has defined us, period.
.

Let me think: What did we do in, say 1980, if we wanted information about a topic under discussion? We'd watch the news or information programmes on TV. We would read newspapers or books. We listened to the radio. You might argue that the information obtained by these means was always filtered through news sources such as repoters or editors, but that hasn't really changed much as the result of the internet, because someone still needs to put information on a website or something.

What did we do if we wanted to transfer money to a friend? We would go to the bank and ask for an instant transfer.

What did employers do if they wanted to know about the quaificatons of a job applicant? They would ask for references and qualification diplomas. They still do, because a facebook page doesn't really prove your qualifications in engineering, roofing, tax law or whatever. Employers just want to find out if you are stupid enough to post pictures from your latest binge-drinking session.

What did we do if we would get lost in the middle of nowhere? We wouldn't, you know, because we would have checked the map beforehand.

The internet has made a lot of things faster and easier, but it isn't as essential as you may think.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 12:39 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Unke wrote:

Let me think: What did we do in, say 1980, if we wanted information about a topic under discussion? We'd watch the news or information programmes on TV. We would read newspapers or books. We listened to the radio. You might argue that the information obtained by these means was always filtered through news sources such as repoters or editors, but that hasn't really changed much as the result of the internet, because someone still needs to put information on a website or something.

What did we do if we wanted to transfer money to a friend? We would go to the bank and ask for an instant transfer.

What did employers do if they wanted to know about the quaificatons of a job applicant? They would ask for references and qualification diplomas. They still do, because a facebook page doesn't really prove your qualifications in engineering, roofing, tax law or whatever. Employers just want to find out if you are stupid enough to post pictures from your latest binge-drinking session.

What did we do if we would get lost in the middle of nowhere? We wouldn't, you know, because we would have checked the map beforehand.

The internet has made a lot of things faster and easier, but it isn't as essential as you may think.


Hard not to like your sarcastic logic! At age 37, I also remember a time when everything seemed to function adequately without the internet. If I’m reading you correctly, the need for telephone exchange was just as paramount from an earlier decade?

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Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:49 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Quote:
but I suspect that most of you young folks tend to overestimate its importance because a) you are too young to remember a time when people didn't own personal computers and b) you are using the internet a lot


ha, based on the 'about you' thread it looks like half of all posters here are software engineers in their mid 20's.


Thu Mar 07, 2013 1:50 pm
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Post Re: What technology has changed social interaction the most?
Unke wrote:

Let me think: What did we do in, say 1980, if we wanted...

...if we wanted to transfer money to a friend? We would go to the bank and ask for an instant transfer.



In 1980? Highly doubtful.


Fri Mar 08, 2013 1:20 am
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