Technology tends to have a way of leveling off the playing field of society. All it takes is a little gadget the size of a deck of cards to close the gap between the upper and lower classes. This point is laid out very clearly in Aaron Barlow’s book Blogging @merica The New Public Sphere. I will not only be using Barlow’s book to help explain my point I will also be using technology itself. For one week I followed a blog online and observed what went on with it. My observations help me to realize what this web 2.0 Technology has done to help change the world.
Allow me to explain in more depth the blog, which I observed for a week. The name of the blog that I chose is called www.fitnessblackbook.com. This blog is a place for the fitness savvy and not so savvy to come and enjoy. I suppose the enjoyment level varies on how you spend your free time. I say this because this fitness blog is about giving tips on how to maximize workouts. It also goes into depth on nutritional planning and maximizing your fitness level. I did not realize it at first but the blog can only have posts written by one person named Rusty. Rusty seems to due his research very well; he only posts things that have been proven to work and help people who are really struggling to increase their level of fitness. This blog became very interesting to me because I am at a point right now in my life where I am trying to gain strength. This will help me achieve my ultimate goal of competing in a full iron man triathlon. A full triathlon is a 2.5-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride topped off with a marathon (26.8 miles). You can see how a high level of fitness is needed to compete in such an event. During my observations, I noticed that a lot of people were having the same reactions I was. These reactions were nothing but positive things to say or questions about the articles. I did ask a question in regards to one article about a strength training method used by the Russian Olympic teams. My question did go unanswered as Rusty seems to only answer a limited number of questions per article. This was not of grave concern to me because the information I had unknowingly been looking for was eventually found. From my observations, my overall conclusion of this particular blog is that I can still train like a Russian Olympic athlete but not have to be a Russian Olympic athlete.
This brings me into my main point of the essay; technology has a way of leveling out the playing field for everyone. In chapter 5 of Barlow’s book he explains how people in Africa are becoming cell phone owners at an enormously large rate (Barlow, 2008). These cell phones have Internet access and perform all the same functions as many computers do. I can guarantee you not many people know this fact because I know I certainly did not. The fact that in an underdeveloped area, such as Africa, can be as technically advanced as some rich person in the U.S. is astonishing. This is all in part thanks to Technology. People that were once shut off from the world will now have news updates at the same time as people from countries that are considered technologically advanced. These people will now be able to expose their culture through things like blogs, photos, and videos. This also gives these people a chance to be exposed to other cultures. This can be argued as a good or bad thing; everyone knows blue jeans ended the cold war. This also can be a smack in the face to upper class cultures. This is portrayed in a story in chapter 5 of Barlow’s book when a Dutch man tries to help African teachers by offering very cheap laptops. The teacher is shocked when the reply is basically no (Barlow, 2008). This is partly due to the fact that they are not looking for cheap hand me downs; they are looking for something they can truly use. Lower class cultures are not looking for low-end equipment that upper class cultures think they can give to them and feel as if they have done something nice (Barlow, 2008). Today a person can find a cell phone that does everything a computer does for a very reasonable price when you compare them to computers.
Technology has a way of leveling off the playing field for today’s cultures. As I found out through the blog I observed, just because I do not get paid like a professional athlete does not mean I cannot train like one. The only reason I can do this is because of the technology that I posses; it allows me to research the tools necessary to train like a professional athlete. This technology goes even further to help understand other cultures and have them understand us. Perhaps this will help to create the beginning of a world where each and every culture is valued and accepted.
Barlow, Aaron, Blogging America.(2008). Blogging in Popular Culture (Chapter 5)