Learning Objective :
Identify communication technology in
relation to interpersonal
. There is no doubt that with or without
technology, we can still communicate. However,
with technology, our interpersonal
communication is totally different.
For instance, we can either choose to write
letters to our friends, chat with them on the
internet or the telephone. And today, we can
also talk to them on mobile phones. In other
words, it is up to us to choose how we want to
communicate with them. In this topic, we will
look at how communication technology affects
Communication technology affects interpersonal communication or
relationships. In the contexts of distance, time, and space, where
all the three factors have become more flexible. We will see how
and why this is so.
With the presence of technology, the perceptions of how
communication could take place change. When we communicate
using communication technology, the three factors no longer
make any significant difference on the effectiveness of
When we talk about relationships
and distance, we cannot help but
think about how communication
takes place between people who
are far away from each other.
Many years ago, that would have
been quite difficult to imagine.
Distance did matter then in the
sense that a fast communication
could only take place between
those who are located near each
But now, communication technology has enabled people around the
world to communicate with each other.
For example, we can share information with our friends in London
through email and that information can be as accurate as when
we share it with local friends.
So today, distance is no longer a major obstacle to efficient
and effective communication.
Communication Technology and Time
In the past, time constraint was closely related
to distance because if we wanted to communicate
with those who are far away from us, we would
need more time to convey our messages to the
Today however, as in the previous example,
the use of e-mail, internet chat rooms, telephone,
and so on, have allowed us to communicate
faster in much lesser time. We can share ideas
and information with different people in different
places at the same time.
In other words, we save time with the advent
of communication technology.
Communication Technology and Space
During the era of zero technology, space is taken
into great consideration when someone wants to
communicate with other communicators.
The concept of space is related to culture, where different
cultures regard space differently.
Some cultures view that it is important to maintain
one's space when talking or communicating with others.
This happens when we are involved in interpersonal
communication, where we communicate with other
people face to face.
In using technological innovations, we can regard space as the
distance between us and the computer or the telephone.
For example; as tele-marketers, we can make sales with these
technologies without seeing clients and making face to face contact.
In such situations however, space is no longer an important factor
because it does not matter how far away or close by we stand from
our computer or telephone as long as we can make sales.
Communication technology affects interpersonal communication
through the aspects of distance, space and time. Also, it directly
affects the way we think and communicate through many other
ways that we may not realize. In addition, communication technology
encourages conversations via the computer without consideration
of the effects of non-verbal communication. So, through
communication technology, people may not be able to precisely judge
or evaluate us.
Small group communication and communication technology
technology in relation to small
Traditionally, individuals in small groups tend to interact in face to face
situations. However, with the advent of communication technology,
their communication processes are changing. Technology is not only
transforming how small groups interact but are also redefining our
concept of a small group despite the fact that some rather expensive
forms of technology such as telephones and videoconferencing have
been used for quiet some time.
Yet, new technologies, particularly those based on the internet, have
made possible synchronous and asynchronous communication
among small group members at relatively low costs thereby changing
small group memberships, functions, and processes. This changes
Several studies have found that groups interacting through
communication technology produce higher quality decisions, unique
solutions, and more creative ideas than face to face groups.
This is because the technology maximizes participation of all group
members due to the fact that people usually feel more at ease to
throw ideas, criticisms, suggestions, and so on, when they do
meet eye to eye with others.
Most list servers also provide archives of past messages as well as
various options. Examples are Coollist, Listbot, eGroups, and Topica.
Discussion boards are also asynchronous web-based facilities that let
you post messages and read what others have posted.
Providers of such service include Lycos, Yahoo, Excite, and MSN.
We can see that recent technology is changing the way people
communicate in small groups. Some conclusions can be drawn as to
the impact of technology on small group communication.
First, the internet is dramatically changing small group
communication at relatively low costs.
Secondly, communication on the internet requires communicators
to know some netiquette.
Thirdly, synchronous modes of communication occur in real time but
may be removed in space.
And finally, asynchronous modes of communication are removed in
time and usually in space as well.
Public Communication and Communication Technology
Identify communication technology in
relation to public communication.
Many books on communication and
technology will probably tell us that the
earliest form of technology related to
public speaking is writing. Well,
depending on how we define technology,
it can be argued that in ancient times, the
only 'technology' a public speaker or
operator used was controlled physical
gestures and facial expressions. Real life
objects were probably also used.
However, the invention of writing was
more significant because for ages the
public was known to depend on the
speaker as the reader of written words
such as in a read speech
The Advent of Communication Technology
Besides printed as well as more graphical materials, in more recent
times, electronic inventions have begun to take centre stage as far as
public communication technology is concerned. It would be difficult to
imagine modern day public speech or oral presentation without some
form of electronic visual aids such as the overhead or slide projector
and the video player. Nowadays, the personal computer and the
various audio/visual programs it controls through software appear to
have become the ultimate technological tool in public communication.
Communication Technology and
Enhanced Visual Presentation
Communication technology helps
enhance the ideas contained in the
publicly spoken message in terms of
product (audio-visual aids) and process
(techniques of presentation). As in the
case of small group communication
technology, speech media for public
communication comprise both
synchronous and asynchronous media.
The former includes public address
systems that basically involve sound
amplification, live television, and closed
circuit systems. On the other hand, the
latter concerns played back audio and/or
video materials and streaming media.
As mentioned earlier, presentation aids comprise supporting materials
ranging from simple printed pictures, charts or texts for the slide or
overhead projector to more sophisticated audio/visual aids that
employ computer technology such as the LCD projector that uses
PowerBook, PowerPoint, or Freelance technologies.
Communication Technology as a Medium and Aid
As a medium technology such as radio broadcasting, communication
technology has turned public speaking from a direct medium to an
indirect medium. Even the extensive public address microphone does
this especially when parts of a very large audience cannot actually
see the speaker.
Again, we must remember that public, as well as mass communication
media can be synchronous or asynchronous. In other words, if it is
possible to speak face to image through teleconferencing or video-
conferencing equipment to individuals or small groups, it is indeed
so in the case of speaking to large audiences in real time. Who has
not listened to and seen live telecasts of important speeches on
television or as recorded or archived audio/visual materials?
Surely, most if not all of us have. So, communication technology has
provided public communication with a very powerful medium and aid.
That is why today's public communication does not carry the same
Advances in communication technology have actually changed the way
audiences respond to public speaking. Some say that people have
learned to expect powerful arguments and logic in publicly presented
speeches. They are used to listening to the narrative style of speaking
that seems to have become the norm. This means that together with
the visual technology that appeals more to the human senses,
speakers have in some ways abandoned logos (logic) in favour of
pathos (emotional appeal) and ethos (credibility). Nevertheless, a
more positive development has been that the chance to speak
indirectly to an audience via technology has helped some people
reduce or eliminate their fear of public speaking.
As in all other spheres of human life, technological advances have
indeed influenced and continue to impact upon traditional activities
such as speaking in public to relatively large audiences. Right from
ancient classical times to the present, technology has in some ways
served to convert public speeches as a direct medium of public or
mass communication to an indirect medium. In addition, it has also
generally helped to make public communication a more effective
experience for the speaker as well as the listeners.
Ideology, Power and Communication Technology
At the end of the section, learners should be able to identify the relationship
among ideology, power and communication technology.
Definition of ideology and power
Perhaps many of us have heard of the term ideology and power and
often relate them to politics. But how do ideology and power relate to
communication technology? With the emergence of sophisticated
communication technology that cuts across boundaries of many
cuts across boundaries of many nations, is it possible that
communication technology be used or abused to disseminate ideology
or propaganda and consequently influence people to achieve or
maintain power of those holding it? Before we look into this issue,
let us first look at the meaning of ideology and power.
Ideology as defined by Merriam Webster dictionary is "a body of
beliefs". The American Heritage Dictionary elaborates the definition
a little further by stating it as "the body of ideas reflecting the social
needs and aspirations of an individual, group, class, or culture”.
Basically, ideology stems from the work of Karl Marx that explains
how cultures are structured in ways that enable the group holding
power to have the maximum control with the minimum of conflict
with the members of the society. The structuring of culture is meant
to ensure the people to believe that the current order or system of the
society is acceptable or legitimate. The structuring may not be done
deliberately but subtly by working on the values, worldview and
symbol systems of the society.
The process of legitimization of the current order in the society is
usually managed through the widespread teaching of ideas using
ideological instruments such as religious bodies, the family, and other
cultural forms. This is also known as propaganda and the aim is to
influence the attitudes and behavior of members to legitimize the
current order of their society. Of course, the channel mostly utilized
to achieve the objective is the mass media, namely the print and
electronic media. Books, newspapers, magazines, television and films,
along with the standard messages of institutions such as governments,
schools, and the religious bodies, provide the teaching of the ideology.
This clearly demonstrates how media through communication
technology can be so powerful in determining power in a society.
Since ideology is an important element to achieve power or to ensure
that the group holding it maintains the power, lets us now see the
significance of power and how it relates to communication technology.
There are many definitions of power provided by the dictionaries but
for the purpose of understanding the relationship between power,
ideology and the communication technology, we may define power as
"the ability of a person or a group of people to bring about the desired
outcomes through influence and persuasion."
that can be
want to take
are seen as
such as the
belongs to people
who have control
on tangible and
resources such as
or position in
qualities of a
a power base
How then can we relate power to communication technology?
We understand that propaganda or ideology can be disseminated
through the mass media by means of communication technology.
Therefore, based on the suggestion of Lewicki, Saunders and Minton
(1997), we may gather that the person or groups of people who
control or own the media and communication technology are also
people having information power and resource power. In a nation,
this assumes that they are powerful people who are able to control
the dissemination of information specifically propaganda and ideology
and directly influence the mass of people in the country.
The correlation between power and control of information flow explains
why in many countries the government has full control on the
ownership of media and communication technology. This is to ensure
the media and the communication technology is used justly.
For example, the Malaysian government introduces regulations and
acts to prevent the media and the communication technology from
falling into the hands of irresponsible person or group of people who
have intentions of personal gains that may result in chaos or
disharmony among the people in the country.
Ideology, power and communication
technology are very much interrelated.
Power is obtained and sustained through
the dissemination of ideology or
propaganda. The media with the support
of communication technology help the
desired messages to reach and influence
the people. Thus, people who own the
media and the communication
technology are people who have the
power to control and determine the
outcome they desire.
The influence on technology on communication
Describe the influence communication
technology in the communication process in
Imagine living in a world without the radio, television, telephone,
computers, and all other communication technologies. Our
imaginations may take us back to the way people lived a hundred
years ago. We may have difficulties adapting to such an environment
as we are used to live in a world of instant communication, where
information we send and receive is equivalent to the speed of light.
Undoubtedly, the emergence of communication technology such as
computers has tremendously changed the way we live today. The
influence of communication technology is too obvious on various
disciplines. Let us look at the influences brought about by
communication technology in our lives.
Nowadays, computers seem to be changing our mode of learning
and teaching. Some higher learning institutions have adopted new
methods of learning for the students via the internet, which is also
known as e-learning. Universiti Tun Abdul Razak (UNITAR) is
a pioneer in this effort. A good example is the online distant learning
Students from any part of the country no longer need to go to
classrooms for full-time lectures. Instead, they may interact online
with their instructors and other students from their homes
regardless of the distance.
The Influence On Education
New communication technologies have improved the quantity,
quality, and productivity in workplaces. The telephone, facsimile
machine, radio, television, and internet not only help in increased
productivity but also provide vast opportunities in the business world.
The Influence On Business And Economy
Today, the capability of technology has transformed the internet into
a new marketplace for business people. We call it E-Commerce. Work
and business transactions are now very common via the internet.
Shopping is also becoming very convenient. We only need to go online
to buy things instead of driving to the store. It seems that the need
for space to sell products is no longer urgent. Advertising industry
too is also booming via the internet, which creates economic
opportunities to many advertisers.
With the advancement of communication technology especially the
computer technology, many governments in the world including
Malaysia have adopted the systematic paperless electronic
administration. The government and private agencies are well
interconnected. This enables work and business transactions to be
conducted efficiently, effectively, and economically online.
For example, if we want to pay taxes to the government, we may do
so at any authorized bank without having to go to the Inland Revenue
The Influence On
The internet has also been known to be the venue for disseminating
false information by irresponsible people causing harm or social
disharmony. Hence, the government has to intervene by imposing
policies, regulations, and a cyber law to prevent harmful information
from undermining the beliefs and values of the society. Although the
freedom of speech and expression is legal, the regulations and law
imposed may deter irresponsible people to take advantage of the
technology for personal gains.
• McLuhan's concepts of the Global Village and Popular Culture are
becoming a reality and they prove that communication technology
have a profound impact on our society.
For one, researches have demonstrated that the television is capable
of reinforcing behaviors already existing in an individual. Unfortunately
, heavy exposure to the television is often associated with violence.
Apart from violence, the television is also blamed for cultivating
distorted perceptions of the world we live in hence making the world
seems more the way the television portrays it than it is in real life
A study also discovered that people might be addicted to the internet
and that addicts are usually found to display aggressive
communication behaviors, lack of social skills and interactions, and
other negative conducts. The harmful influences include gambling,
deviant teaching, illegal sex and so on.
The Influence On The Society
Communication technology has also made countries well connected to
each other in order to cope with the process of globalization.
Especially with the arrival of information and communication
technology (ICT) and knowledge economy (an economy based on the
manipulation and management of knowledge), we see the process of
globalization multiplying in speed and effects. Nowadays, it is possible
for us to understand and learn about the cultures, geography, politics,
and economy of other countries just by browsing the internet.
The Impact On
The impact of communication technology has reached a point, where
we need to reconsider the application of conventional workplace
settings and social environments we have today. It seems that
communication technology has changed the way we do our work and
the need to adopt new approaches is inevitable. Nonetheless,
although communication may bring more good than harm to many
people, we must be aware that technology may also bring about
harmful effects. Thus, it is our responsibility to ensure that the
technology is not abused or misused.