Perspectives in Digital Culture/Technological Innovation

Technological InnovationEdit


Technology innovation is the process through which new (or improved) technologies are developed and brought into widespread use. Technological innovation is constantly evolving and constantly occurring. The effects of technological are tangible. Technologies never stay the same over time, the last few decades are described by Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant and Kelly in their book New Media as a 'vortex of constant and rapid technological innovation'. [1] Technology is ever-changing, we don't use the same technology today as we did 15 years ago, for example, these new technologies are often seen as vital to our lives.

What is Technology?Edit

The term 'technology' has numerous definitions, connotations and meanings. The most basic is to define technology is the continuous production of new items that are seek to make human life easier. Technology has lots of different guises, from tangible items such as the television or the mobile phone, to non-tangible technology; such as the World Wide Web. Technology, however, can be seen to encompass anything man-made that makes our lives easier, whether computerised or otherwise, everything was, at some point, a new technology.

Foundational ConceptsEdit

Technological DeterminismEdit

Technological Determinism is the idea that technological innovation is the main driving force behind the progression of society in general.[2] This is discussed, in great detail, by Marshall McLuhan, especially in the opening chapter, The Medium is the Message, of his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Here, McLuhan makes reference to automation, stating that this is a clear technological innovation, and one that has both positive and negative effects, it takes away some jobs but creates the need for more. [3] This therefore explains the general idea of technological determinism, these new technologies, around the time in which McLuhan was writing, changed society, they facilitated a need for people to adapt to the their creation and arrival, which is what continual technological innovation does.

Technological Determinism, in its most primal state, is not a new development. McLuhan's writing dates back to 1964, but in truth, the idea of Technological Determinism goes back a lot further than that. Merritt Roe Smith, in his essay Technological Determinism in American Culture, writes that Technological Determinism can be traced back to the Industrial Revolution (pp 2). Smith states that "technology was a key governing force in society" during the Industrial Revolution,[4] a suggestion that is the same as the modern definition. Essentially, this suggests that whilst technological innovation may be seen be something fairly recent, with the advent of computerised technologies in the 20th century, in relation to Technological Determinism, technology has been determining society for centuries, the rise of industry in the 18th and 19th centuries is rightfully seen as a precursor to modern day innovation.

McLuhan's 4 CulturesEdit

McLuhan used the idea of media as technological extensions of the human body as a jumping off point for conceiving of four media cultures that cover the days of pre-literacy to a more modern society. This idea is a useful one for contextualizing other ideas that relate to technological innovation.

Primitive Oral/Aural Culture

Prior to the invention of the phonetic alphabet. A culture dominated by hearing in which speech was the only form of communication. McLuhan viewed this period in the history of mankind as a state of "noble savagery".[5]

The Culture of Literacy

The invention of the alphabet and the introduction of the written word as a form of communication "released man from the panic of primitive conditions while maintaining a balance between the oral and the visual". [6]

Print Culture

Viewed by McLuhan as the most "villainous" of the four cultures. A culture where the mass reproduction of writing led to the balance between the senses seen in the last culture being lost. The Visual sense dominated, which - according to McLuhan - resulted in a society that lost their tactile and auditory relationship with the world. [7]

Electronic Culture

McLuhans idea of an ideal society. A culture that has developed from the invention of telegraphy, to television, and then to the computer. A culture that has overcome the sensory deprivation of print, and once again sees all the senses come into play. A culture within which recent technological innovations can take place, and ultimately lead to some drastic effects on culture.

Cultural DeterminismEdit

Cultural Determinism looks at the idea of how pre-existing social processes influence the technology that is produced. This theory focuses on cause and effect changes of technology and culture, identifying characteristics of society that have influenced our technological culture.[8] Raymond Williams looks in depth at cultural determinism in his 1974 book "Television: Technology and Cultural Form". He shows that cultural determinism validates the society and culture we reside in and in terms of the direction society is heading. Williams examines how assuming that technology is what drives society, by default assumes that the actions of society can only be seen as an "effect", taking the power of innovation out of the human hand. It is made clear that human intentions are what drives the need and innovation of new technology, as social practices change and develop over time, our consistent need for technology will develop with it.

Technology and Intention
Raymond Williams' views on Cultural Determinism also brought into play ideas based on technology and intention. It is the idea that technology is developed by a group of people to be of use to the specific needs of these people. The intention behind of the individuals is what drives the technological innovation. This supports Williams' claims of Cultural Determinism being the dominant critical perspective on technological innovation, as it outlines the key aspects of society meeting it's own needs through development of new technologies.[9] It is always aimed as solving problems that are confronted to humans, such as the need for socialising or to make it easier to work through digital means, resulting in humans always being in control of technological development.


Remediation is an idea developed by Marshall McLuhan in his work throughout the 1960s. It is one of his least contentious ideas, shared even by his most famous critic, Raymond Williams. It is the idea that new media "remediates" or reconfigures old media, an idea that ties into technological innovation since all major innovations are predicated on existing technologies or ideas. McLuhan first touches on this idea in his most famous work, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964, in which he writes that "the "content" of any medium is always another medium"[10]. The content of writing - he goes on to write - is speech, the content of a movie may be that of a novel, or a play etc. [11]

McLuhan's definition of a medium is broad, and concerned mostly with social effects. His classification of electric light as a medium exemplifies this, since, while the electric light lacks content in the way that television or literature has it, it has a definite social effect in the way that it allows us to create spaces in the darkness, allowing sports games to be played at night, or for surgeries to take place within windowless rooms. A medium, McLuhan writes, "shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action".[12]

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin's 1999 work, Remediation: Understanding New Media[13] goes into much greater detail on the subject of Remediation, detailing how multiple forms of media ranging from the Television to Virtual Reality remediate other forms of media.

Remediation can tie into transmediality. For example, a movie of a book's story is a remediation of the story. What sets apart remediation from transmediality is that the film may not acknowledge that it has drawn from the story, whereas transmediality occurs when the first medium is left untouched, and is built on and acknowledged.

Media ConvergenceEdit

Vertical Integration in Classical HollywoodEdit

Media convergence and the development of new media has changed throughout last century. Classical Hollywood cinema has a basic outline of how media and cinema were to be integrated into society. The vertical integration model was developed and outlined the basic structure used. The model focused on the production, distribution, exhibition and consumption of film, that prevailed in in producing a steady market for film during the Classical Hollywood time period of the 1970s. [14] This was sufficient for the Classical audience, as it allowed for the constant production of films, or rather required the constant production of films, and allowed for set budgets and for a predicted audience for each film produced. It allowed the style of film, and the style of production of film to suit the cultural and social needs of the audience in the Classical Hollywood era.

Horizontal Integration for the Modern AgeEdit

In the modern age of cinema and technology, it is obvious that media ownership has become key in the production and distribution of new media. Thus, integration models have been altered and refined to be left with the horizontal integration model. This model focuses on advertising and branding, user-generated content, enhanced content, feature film production/distribution/broadcast, cross promotion and intellectual property and corporate diversity. Unlike the vertical integration model, all these aspects link and overlap, resulting in a more synergy between production, distribution and exhibition [15]. THis more advanced model suits the needs of a modern audience as it allows for more integration and involvement between audience and production. It allows for the development of technology through the process of creating new media, as the demand for changing circumstances of media outlets increases. This in conjunction with industry structure forms a symbiotic relationship for the corporate and production side of the media. The model also encourages the changing of media texts, as the convergence of media has put the audience in the position to develop their own forms of media based on narratives and stories produced in an original text, e.g Doctor Who has become a world wide phenomenon for fan fiction and stories that can relate but also be different to the original narratives. This ties in with a shift in the relationship between audience and media consumption, as convergence has allowed for media to be viewed in different forms, be it through TV, phones or through online sources.


Transmedia LogicsEdit

Although transmedia refers to the idea of "across platforms" there are other logics to be taken into account in reference to transmedia storytelling. The logic of "transmedia storytelling" is a widely known basic concept but other logics can come into play for several different scenarios. [16] Logics such as, transmedia branding, transmedia performance, transmedia ritual, transmedia play, transmedia activism and transmedia spectacle. It is also clear that a text is capable of containing several of these logics at once, rather than one text being focused on a singular logic. A good example of this is in the popular television program Glee, as many of the songs and videos performed on the show will be reposted to websites such as youtube or programs like iTunes. The characters from the show will even go on to do live performances. The show makes use of several transmedia logics to portray their narrative to the audience, while maintaining the branding of the Glee franchise.

Always-On CultureEdit

The Tethered SelfEdit

Sherry Turkle, a professor of the Social Study of Science and Technology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, says: “Networked we are together, but so lessened are our expectations of each other that we can feel utterly alone. And there is the risk that we come to see others as objects to be accessed – and only for the parts we find useful, comforting or amusing”. [17] The technological innovation of the Always-On Culture has threatened to create a world where people become isolated and helping yourself is becoming more important than having social relationships or being there for other people. This is the key concept in The Tethered Self principles, that the technology that we use today is not just that, a separate piece of technology, but has been innovated and created to server the purpose of being an extension of the self. This is what always-on culture refers to, how one is constantly in range of the digital world [18]. Turkle refers to this idea as being an opportunity for individuals to socialise and communicate, as ,"We cannot get enough of each other" but allows us to put limitations on this constant social sphere. However, this is also countered by the tethered self principle, as through new technological innovations, it is near impossible for an individual in the 21st century to be completely unreachable and un-tethered.

Issues with Always-On CultureEdit

Always-On Culture can create a privacy issue, people seem to be either very worried about losing their right to privacy or are remarkably indifferent. It is clear that privacy on social media does not exist. Monitors of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and Snapchat are able to view all posts that are made from a user’s account or pictures in the case of Snapchat. There is the problem of people being indifferent about privacy because often of Facebook a user will put a fair amount of details in relating to their address, email, phone number which can be dangerous if fallen into the wrong hands. In February 2015, Samsung issued a statement warning customers that their Smart TVs, which can be controlled by a user's vocal commands, can overhear private conversations. Their statement read: "If your words include sensitive information, that information will be among the data captured and transmitted to a third party".

Another problem with the innovation of the Always-On Culture is that it can create a blur between what is the real world, with face to face interactions between people, and an online world. It is becoming more and more common for people to be so attached online, whether it be on social media or online gaming platforms such as Xbox Live, that they lack social skills and cannot express themselves when it comes to real life interaction. Recently, there is also the worrying problem of “trolling” on social media where users can anonymously leave comments, mostly always negative or spiteful, on webpages and forums. Recently there has been serious consequences for those who are convicted of online trolling. A young Scottish footballer who played for Berwick Rangers was sacked for writing vile abuse about former Celtic manager Neil Lennon after an incident in a game. This abuse was unwarranted and offensive to many and due to this he was relieved of his duties. This shows that aspects of the Always-On Culture can lead to trouble as these “trolls” lose the distinction between online and real life, and think it is acceptable to act online in a way they would never dream of acting in the real world.

A Brief History of Technological DevelopmentEdit

Prehistoric PeriodEdit

Stone Age 2.5 million B.C - 30,000 B.CEdit

The prehistoric age was defined by early humanities utilisation of basic stone tools and simple technologies. This era signals the beginning of humanities ascendancy thanks to the development of albeit simple technologies. The Stone Age is named for the primary materials used by early humans which included flint, jade and greenstone, these stones were largely procured from exposed seams in rock faces as the period predates mining techniques. Almost every technological development during this period revolved around survival, hunting and food preparation, with some small steps towards agricultural development [19] in the later half of the Stone Age period which is known as the Neolithic period. The most notable technological developments during this period included stone tools, humanities successful harnessing of fire, clothing and rudimentary farming and mining techniques. It was also during this period that some subsets of early humanity, such as Ngaro Aborigines, developed sailing and navigation technologies including ocean going canoes and celestial navigation, allowing for the migration of humans across the globe. The early technologies developed during the Stone Age became the basis for all technological development in subsequent eras.

Copper and Bronze Ages 30,000 B.C - 1,300 B.CEdit

The Copper and Bronze Ages followed the Stone Age following a period dubbed the Neolithic Revolution by historians. It was during this period in the late Stone Age that early humans made the transition from hunter gatherer lifestyles to settled agricultural lifestyles. As a result of this transition, new technologies began to emerge to satisfy the needs of the new settled ways of life, particularly in the area known as the Fertile Crescent. The foremost of these new technological advancements was the development of metal smelting, initially the newly settled humans began smelting copper, later combining copper with tin to create the alloy known as bronze. The ability to work new materials allowed for the creation of ever more specialised and complex tools, usually in the form of new farming implements and weapons. The ability to work metals was preempted by more advanced mining techniques, which alongside allowing for the development of metalworking, allowed early civilizations to mine clays more suitable to the production of ceramics. This technological development lead to the ability to create ceramics, spawning further technologies such as the potters wheel [20], which in turn allowed for higher quality ceramic products. The advantages of these new technologies allowed the cultures who first developed them to become more prosperous and powerful within their sphere of influence. One of the most notable instances of a culture utilizing these technological advancements is that of the Ancient Egyptians, who revolutionized their agricultural techniques and developed new weapons technologies, superior to that of their neighbours, pathing the way for their hegemony.

Iron Age 1,300 B.C - 500 B.CEdit

The Iron Age was ushered in with the discovery and development of new smelting and metal working techniques among the early human societies. The foremost of these which defines the era was the development and usage of iron and early forms of steel. The development of steel gave Iron Age humans access to more efficient means to clear land, practice agriculture and wage war. This process paved the way to larger populations and the diffusion of humans further across the globe. Alongside these technological developments, which allowed for more advanced weapons, tools and agricultural implements, the technology of the written word was formally developed, becoming an important part of early cultures. The development of writing allowed cultures to pass down their histories and formalize their legal, religious and economic systems, this technological innovation, allowed for the formation of ever larger and more complex societies, which in turn gave rise to further technological developments as they expanded.

Classical PeriodEdit

The growth and technological developments of previous eras was capitalised upon by the ancient civilizations of this period, signalling the greatest advances in technology and engineering to date. Many of the theories and technologies developed during this time underpinned technological development and understanding for centuries to come. The technological innovations that appeared during this time were increasingly complex and aided in further improving agricultural practices, the development of urbanised population centres, trade, seafaring and warfare. During this period, mechanical technologies were developed at an unprecedented rate, particularly those of water management and irrigation, these developments combined, allowed societies that utilised them to develop at an ever faster rate. The Greek, Chinese and Roman civilisations dominated the field of technological development at this time, making great strides in a number of technological fields and laying the groundwork innovation in subsequent eras.

Greek InnovationsEdit

Greek engineers during this period devised the basic principles of physics and mechanical engineering and using these principles developed new technologies such as the water wheel, which was the first motive device not to utilise muscle energy. Along side this development and many others the Greeks also developed the first computer, the Antikythera mechanism which has been dated to 250 B.C. The Antikythera mechanism was an early analogue computer that was used to calculate the cycles of the celestial bodies and is the earliest known example of computer technology. Greek engineers also created the first known steam powered device, the aeolipile which is alternately known as the Hero engine [21][22] , named for Hero of Alexandria who is thought to have invented it by historians. The Greeks also made great strides in other fields including astrological navigation with the invention of the Astrolabe, which allowed Greek sailors to accurately navigate their ships, allowing for improved trade and interaction with other cultures. Due to Greece’s positioning, many of the technologies that were developed there spread across the Mediterranean basin, further encouraging technological development in the region. Many of the Greek technological innovations could be considered to be prochronistic, as their full potential was not realised at the time, much of what the Greeks invented was integral to developments in later eras such as the Industrial Revolution.

Roman InnovationsEdit

Roman technological innovations were largely underpinned by Greek discoveries after their absorption of Hellenic culture. True Roman technological innovations were largely focused on military technologies and civil engineering works. Some the most long lived examples of Roman engineering innovation include the aqueducts which can be found today across many areas of Europe that were once controlled by the Roman Empire. Alongside the supply of freshwater, Roman technology also dealt with sanitation, one of the most innovative solutions that the Romans devised was that of indoor plumbing and flush toilets which ensured the removal of harmful waste from dense urban centres. Another of Rome’s most important technological innovations was that of road engineering, developing the technologies involved in land surveying, bridge building and road construction, the Roman Empire was able to create over 85,000 kilometres of roadways across the empire. Although primarily for military traffic, the roads are thought to have been important economically as they allowed for trade across the European continent. Roman technologies as regards to warfare were beyond any scale which had been previously seen, with a number of technological innovations, including developments in siege weapons such as the repeating ballista and refined steel for armour and weaponry, which allowed the Roman Empire to expand across the European continent.

Chinese InnovationsEdit

Chinese contributions to technological innovation during this period are largely mentioned in passing in a European and wider global perspective due to the isolationist nature of Chinese civilization at the time. However, Chinese technological innovations during the classical period included many advanced new devices and developments [23] including early seismological detectors, matches, paper, cast iron, the iron plough, the multi-tube seed drill, the suspension bridge, natural gas as fuel, the magnetic compass, the raised-relief map, the propeller, the crossbow and most significantly gunpowder. The vast majority of Chinese technological innovations would remain indigenous to the region until the Renaissance, when trade between East and West became more widespread.

Medieval Period 500 A.D - 1300 A.DEdit

Although often considered a period of technological stagnation in Europe following the fall of the Roman Empire, there were in fact numerous major technological breakthroughs thanks to development and refinement of old technologies and the adoption of technologies imported from the Far East. The period included the adoption and development of gunpowder technology, further advancements in the utilisation of wind and water as motive forces, mechanical innovations such as clockwork and other geared mechanisms, improvements in agricultural technologies, the development of more advanced building techniques and rapid advancement of technologies relating to nautical transport and warfare. As much of the technological development during this period was based around refining technologies from the classical period, much of the new technology seen in Europe at the time was in fact imported from the Arabic world and China, this sudden adoption of technologies was facilitated by advancements in transportation technologies such as the iron horseshoe which allowed the use of horses on rocky ground and paved roads and improvements in ship building techniques. Alongside innovations relating to trade and agriculture, the Medieval period was particularly notable for the advancement of building techniques, a development that allowed the creation of larger castles and gothic architecture. Many of the large civil engineering works of this period are still visible today across Europe, particularly castles and cathedrals, which used revolutionary techniques in their construction. The slower development cycle of technologies during this time paved the way for the next significant era of western technological innovation, the period known as the Renaissance.

The Renaissance and Age of Discovery 1300 A.D - 1700 A.DEdit

The Renaissance and the Age of Discovery were concurrent, with the discoveries and technological developments of the early Renaissance paving the way for the Age of Discovery. The most important technological development of this period was the invention of the printing press and movable type by German printer Johannes Gutenberg circa 1400 A.D, the printing press which had previously existed in China since the 11th century A.D failed to spread to due the hermetic nature of Chinese culture at the time, Gutenberg’s press however was vastly superior to it’s Chinese predecessors, revolutionising the spread of knowledge and ideas across post Medieval Europe, allowing for the early Renaissance to take place as theories about science, engineering and philosophy were now able to be accurately shared across great distances and between the great minds of the time. The press also ushered in the first stages of the democratization of knowledge, further improving the pace of technological development and innovation across Europe. This ability to share knowledge, coincided with the rediscovery of the technologies and ideas of Roman and Greek civilisations by scholars, particularly in the Italian city states. It was in this region that some of the most important scholars, engineers and inventors of the period such as Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and Brunelleschi were able to devise new and innovative solutions to problems. This is most famously documented in the notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci, which included a wide range of advanced ideas and plans for technologies. The Renaissance period was also a period of development for all forms of engineering, as previously lost knowledge was rediscovered and developed and technologies developed during the Medieval period were further advanced and refined. Alongside these developments on land, great strides were taken in the development of new types of ships and the systems used to navigate them. Detailed maps, star charts and the invention of the Astrolabe allowed sailors during this period to travel further and further around the globe in search of trade routes to the east, ushering in the concurrent Age of Discovery starting in the late 14th century.

The Industrial Revolution 1700 A.D - 1850 A.DEdit

The Industrial Revolution was one of the most significant eras in human history in regards to technological innovation. With new technologies and industrial processes, influencing almost every aspect of daily life in some way, the Industrial Revolution was a turning point that ushered in an age of rapid innovation not seen since the Classical period. One of the most significant technological innovations of this era was the harnessing of steam power, which allowed for the mechanization of industry, revolutions in transport, increased efficiency in mining and metalworking and the creation of the first semi automated machine tools. The effective usage of steam power also allowed for the invention of the locomotive, the first example of which, the Rocket, was designed and built by Robert Stephenson. This technological innovation was one of the most important and emotive of the period, allowing for the development of the railways. The effective utilisation of steam power allowed for improvements in production, predominantly in Britain, North America and Western Europe, allowing these regions to thrive economically at a level beyond that of the non mechanized civilisations to the east. Due to the improvements in the economic situations of these regions, living standards also began to increase thanks to developments and discoveries in scientific fields due to improved and standardised methods spread through the use of the printing press. This period remains the true cornerstone of the modern world, with the initial steps in modern technologies being taken during this period.

The Second Industrial Revolution / Technological Revolution 1850 A.D - 1914 A.DEdit

The Second Industrial Revolution which is alternately known as the Technological Revolution [24] was the secondary phase of the initial Industrial Revolution started in the 18th century. This phase of industrialisation was heralded by the introduction of Bessemer steel, a process which allowed for high quality steel to be smelted on an industrial scale. The abundance of cheap high quality steel allowed for the expansion of railroads across the globe, an increase in the use of industrial machinery, the refinement of steam power, improved ships and the equipping of armies with modern weaponry. This period in history also saw the introduction of electricity to both industry and the general populations of nations such as Britain, Germany, the United States, France and Japan, all of which would become belligerents in the Great War. Electrification of industry combined with the more complex and efficient machinery that it powered allowed for one of the most important technological innovations of the era was assembly line production, which vastly improved both the output and efficiency of industry through the standardization of components and increased automation, industries were no longer reliant on slow hand made production methods. Henry Ford, who is widely accepted as the father of production line assembly techniques was quoted to have said that mass production would not have been possible without electricity because it allowed placement of machine tools and other equipment in the order of the work flow.[25] Thanks to improved methods of production, complex goods such as the motor car were now becoming more affordable to the general population, the development of the motor car and the petrol engine radically quickened in this period thanks to these developments. Developments in precision engineering also allowed for the industrialised nations to outfit their armies with ever more deadly and efficient weapons of war, drawing on developments such as improved optics, mechanised production lines, the combustion engine, improved steel for armour and scientific innovations. The technological innovations of this period were the immediate precursors to those of the modern era and the processes invented during this period have continued to be refined and modified to this day.

Important Technological Developments in the Modern EraEdit

Technological innovation has been going on for centuries, and is something that continues to this day, and will carry on for centuries to come. For instance, the first idea of the modern day computer was discussed by Alan Turing in 1936[26], these ideas continued into the advent of the Second World War, with both sides using some sort of early computerised technology. In comparison to the technology used in everyday life today, these WW2 machines may seem somewhat minuscule, an example being the Z2 machine used by Germany during WW2 which had a memory of 64 words for a machine that weighed 300 kg[27], which, compared to the iPhone 6, which at just 129 grams can hold memory up to 128 gigabites[28], an extremely large amount. Computers, and computerised technology, have been around, in the form for less than 100 years, and already the processing power of something people keep in their pocket is far bigger than something used to fight a world war. Technology is continuing to grow and expand at such a rapid rate.


Radio is perhaps the oldest piece of technology as it dates way back to the 1820s. The radio has gone through huge technological innovation to what it is today. The creation of the radio went on right from the 1820s to the end of this century with many inventors and theorists working on the relationship between electricity and magnetism. Other inventors such as Edwin Houston and James Clerk Maxwell experimented and predicted theoretically the existence of electromagnetic waves in their respective papers. These were all build ups to the creation of the radio and in many years of experimenting, the first radio was invented in 1896 where Marconi was awarded a patent for radio. This is the initial patent for radio based wireless telegraphy. A year later Marconi established a radio station in the Isle of Wight and the opening of a radio factory employing 50 people. [29]. Using various patents, the company called "British Marconi" was established and began communication between coast radio stations and ships at sea. This company, along with its subsidiary American Marconi, had a stranglehold on ship to shore communication.

The first radio broadcast was delivered in morse code in 1916 with the first regular radio station coming four years later by station 8MK. The continuing developments of the radio has been significant with pocket radios coming into existence in 1954 meaning a person is able to listen to the radio while on the move. The technological innovation continued with the introduction in the early 1960s where radios were introduced into vehicles including aeroplanes for navigation. In this day and age the radio is vast and available in many places to be used. Radio is used in cars with many different stations broadcasting at the same time with Radio 1 and TalkSport up there as two as the biggest radio stations in Britain. Radio is also available on the television and on a computer device such as a laptop,ipad or even a smartphone. There is always a way to tune into the radio showing the innovation since the early days where the only way a person could listen to the radio was on a proper radio player that usually only had one or two stations. This is an example of a huge technological innovation due to how far it has come from when Marconi was patented for the invention of the radio way back in the late 1800s.


Computers, and Laptops have undergone a lot of technological innovation throughout the years, with many pioneers behind the improvement and adjustment of computers. Charles Babbage is thought to have conceived the first programmable computer in the 1830s, which he called the "Difference Engine." Babbage died in 1871, but never built his Difference Engine. However in 1991 the science museum in London, followed Babbage's plans, and built it, completing it in 2000, and it did work. [30].

As Babbage's programmable computer was not built at the time of its conception, it would not be until Alan Turning in the 1930s, that a workable computer was created. Alan Turning was head of code breaking at Bletchley Park during the Second World War. Turning along with his colleague Gordon Welchman, created a series of huge electromechanical codebreaking machines known as ‘bombees’. These machines allowed the Bletchley team to crack coded messages sent by German Enigma machine. [31] Turning was then recruited to National Physical Laboratory, Teddington, after the war. It was here, in 1945,Turning would write a detailed specification for a universal digital programmable computer, to be known as the Automatic Computing Engine (ACE). [32] The first ACE Computer would be completed in 1950.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen began creating Programming Software in the 1970s, with their trade name Microsoft being registered in 1976. [33] They sought to improve upon Personal Computers (PCs), the first operating system to be publicly released by the company was announced on August 25, 1980. This would be the first version of Microsoft's word processor, Microsoft Word, which was released in spring of 1983. It would be their Disk Operating System (DOS) that would bring the company its real success. On November 20 Microsoft released its first retail version of Microsoft Windows (Windows 1.0), originally a graphical extension for its MS-DOS operating system. In August, Microsoft and IBM partnered in the development of a different operating system called OS/2. [34]

Mobile PhonesEdit

Mobile phones were created in the 1970s with the worlds first mobile phone being created on April the 3rd 1973. Martin Cooper a senior engineer at Motorola called a rival telecommunications company and informed them that they were speaking via a mobile phone. The mobile of that time was very different to the current models of today. This phone weighed a staggering 1.1 kilograms with a talking time of 30 minutes and when it ran out of battery it would take 10 hours to charge. [35] However the 1980s marked the advent of the mobile phone, following the arrival of the first commercially available mobile phone in 1983. [36] Arguably the most commonly used piece of computerised technology nowadays, the mobile phone in the 1980s was obviously not as advanced as any mobiles currently, and were single use, purely for making phone calls. The first mobile, the Motorola DynaTAC8000X, was available in the US for $3,995 [37], a considerable difference to mobile phones today, which are a lot cheaper. Obviously, this is due to the fact that in the 80s, mobile phones were a brand new technology, not a lot of people owned them and the market was a lot smaller. The mobile phone in the 1980s was a rather exclusive and new piece of technology, compared to this use and ownership of mobiles in the last decade of so; Lister, Dovey, Grant, Giddings and Kelly note than in 2003 88% of UK 15-34 year olds had a mobile, whilst in 2006 91% of 12 year olds had their own phones. [38] This goes to show the rapid rise of the use of mobiles, from something that in 1990 only 11 million people worldwide had, [39] to a tool, currently, with many handsets essentially akin to a small computer, that is almost impossible for many to live without.

40% of the worldwide population suffer from Nomophobia, the fear of being without your smartphone[40], while a 2013 study on Mobile Consumer Habits conducted by Harris Interactive found that one in 10 people have admitted using their smartphone while having sex. [41]

Games ConsolesEdit

Used prominently for decades, and still as strong as ever, some would argue stronger, are games consoles. Current generation games consoles, such as the Playstation 4, Xbox One, and Wii U are used, not just to play games, but also as multimedia platforms, to browse the internet, watch film and television amongst a wide array of other features. This is something that was obviously impossible with the initial games consoles, the first of which was the Magnavox Odyssey, which was released to the American public in 1972. Since then, legions of different consoles have been released, starting with the home console version of Pong in 1975 which was an enormous success. These games consoles have evolved spectacularly from the initial blocky 2-D graphics of the early generation consoles, to the current 3-D High Definition graphics and gameplay of today's home console games, in which many look true to life. Arthur Asa Berger, in his book Video Games: A Popular Culture Phenomenon, says that the rapid advancement of technology in console gaming "from diskettes to CD-ROMs and DVD disks [means that] the nature and power of the games have changed considerably", (pp. 9) which has in turn allowed for the creation of an enteriely new form of entertainment, one closer to films. [42]

Today's games consoles have been designed with the tools to make it much more than simply a games console. The Xbox One and PS4 consoles have a variety of features, from built-in recording devices to apps such as Netflix, Dominos Pizza and Internet Explorer.

The Nintendo Wii, released in 2006, was designed with the purpose of encouraging users to physically participate in the game they are playing. Revolutionary at the time, the Wii Fit Board can be used for pastimes such as Yoga, jogging and muscle training, whilst it can also review your weight and BMI. The Wii paved the way for other console features, such as Kinect for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, which uses many of the same motion-control features as the original Wii.

The InternetEdit

One of the most important technological innovations of the 20th century, the internet was an evolution in the fields of computing and communications, and plays a massive part in how we live our life's today. As a medium, the internet remediates multiple mediums that were previously in existence, such as the telephone, telegraph, radio, television, and the computer.

The earliest records detailing a basic vision of the internet are a series of memos written by J.C.R Licklider, in which he envisioned a globally interconnected set of computers, that anybody could use to quickly access data or programs.[43] As a technology, the Internet is not an entirely new concept, having been preceded by the ARPANET, which was set up in 1969. It wasn't until the 1990's that the technology was made commercial, at which point it spread around the world to become the ubiquitous technology that we have today.

The number of people with access to the internet has grown exponentially since the 90's, getting greater every single year. By the 1st of July, 2014, an estimated 40.4% of the worlds population had access to the internet.[44]. With most of the developed world having access to the internet, the social effect has been so drastic, that the field of Internet Studies has been established precisely to analyse this. Manuel Castells argued that the social effect was mostly positive, stating that the internet facilitates the process of individuation, by providing users with a social space within which they have a greater degree of autonomy, allowing them to interact with greater confidence. He uses women as an example of this, saying that the internet "helps them overcome their isolation, particularly in patriarchal societies".[45]

Social MediaEdit

Social Media has been a large part of technological innovation and now it is a large part of technology in everyday life. Even before the boom of the internet there was ways in which people could communicate online. The main option was compuServe a platform of media that allowed members to share files and to access news and events. This was the 1970s running into the 1980s but on the appearance of the internet for real in the mid 1990s, was when the real social media innovation took over.

Online social networking has become the new norm for socialising in the 21st century, however social networks is an idea that has been around since the start of the internet. e-mailing could be considered the original online social networks at the dawn of the internet age. It allowed for instant messaging that had no comparison during the end of the 20th century. The human need for socialising, as we are social animals, motivates the use of social networks to constantly connected to other individuals around us. It has the potential to create strong bonds between others, but can arguably diminish social interaction to that of sitting in front of a screen. [46] Online social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Myspace are now key to individuals' lives for communication with others but is also used in a commercial sense, as industries take advantage of the cluster of people on a shared network to share information about an organisation and to make use of advertisement on these websites. was the first to prove that the idea of a virtual reality was a good one. People were able to search for past classmates and get back in touch with people they may not have seen since their schooldays. It was a hit almost immediately and even today 57 million people have an account with this particular social media platform. Other social media's existed around this time, some with not as much success as this particular one but it was the introduction of Facebook and MySpace that social media really exploded and the way in which people communicated through technology changed as we knew it then. This new technology had people hooked and the creators of these sites made millions of pounds through this technological innovation.

Certainly through our educational lives, with technology advancing and moving on so rapidly, social media has settled on its two main platforms as the "Kings" of social media in Facebook and Twitter and with the rise of the mobile phone apps both have an incredibly vast amount of users. Facebook itself has over 1.3 billion users and now in just about anything on the internet a person is able to "like" or "tweet" something they see. Even in certain games on different game consoles a player is able to upload a score or result to these social media outlets and interact with others in this way. Through these different social media platforms it is easy to see how innovative social media has become and technology would not be the same without them especially not the "kings" of social media, Facebook and Twitter.

The rise of social media, has, according to Sam Hinton and Larissa Hjorth, allowed regular people to become "media producers" (pp. 58) in a way that was previously possible before this specific technological innovation, previously the internet was used as means to receive information, rather than to create your own. This is also relevant in terms of YouTube, in which users upload videos, but has an communicative aspect that can be regarded as a type of social media. Here, the term 'produser' is used, describing people who use these platforms to be use and produce information simultaneously. [47]


Netflix is an online streaming service, which began in 1999. Originally a video-mailing service, it is now much more online orientated. In 2000, Netflix launched the personalised movie recommendation system that uses Netflix's members ratings to accurately predict choices for all Netflix members. It went on to introduce streaming which allowed members to watch movies and television programmes on their personal computers. Netflix continues to develop and, in 2010, it became available on the Apple iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch and other internet connected devices. A breakthrough for this service was in 2012 when Netflix became available outside of the United States of America and was ready to be used in European countries including Britain. [48] In present time Netflix has commissioned several programmes for its Netflix Original initiative, which has resulted in critically acclaimed series' such as House Of Cards and Orange Is The New Black. Netflix now has more than 50 million subscribers worldwide, and is available via multiple devices such as games consoles, smart TVs and mobile devices.


Television was first conceived in the 19th Century, but was only produced in the 20th Century, with scientists working on Television as early as the 1870s. [49] Television has undergone many innovations through the years, with 96% of homes in the United Kingdom owning a television set. [50]

Television broadcasting started in the United Kingdom in 1936 as public service free of advertising. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which had been established in 1927 to develop radio broadcasting, first began a television service, initially serving London only, in 1936. BBC Television was closed during World War II but reopened in 1946. [51] It wouldn't be until 1955 that ITV was founded, [52] and then in 1982 Channel 4 was launched. [53] This expansion of the number of channels available has been a major technological innovation within television with now over 1,000 channels, available through different means of distribution media.

Television has also shifted how it is broadcast, with Digital terrestrial television launching in 1998. The shift from analogue would not be immediate, but rather took until 24 October 2012, for all television broadcasts in the United Kingdom are in a digital format, following the end of analogue transmissions in Northern Ireland. [54] Other broadcasting means are available from Cable, to Satellite.

Most recently there has been a shift on-line, with catch up services, such as BBC iPlayer, and 4oD.

Television's also often serve as a screen for other devices, the types of devices available to connect has expanded and changed over the years. In the 1970s Home Video System (VHS) would become used at home. At first it was a competition between VHS and Betamax, but VHS would become the dominant home video format. By 2000, DVDs would become the preferred use of distribution over VHS, due to the better quality. Televisions are used now as screens for games consoles, and can connect to online sources for Film and Television.

Television over the years have shifted, with the expansion of choices available, and what can be streamed on them.

Electric CarsEdit

An electric car is a vehicle that is powered by an electric motor via energy stored in a battery. They have been produced since 1880’s and were popular until mass production of gasoline vehicles. During the energy crisis in the 1970’s and the 1980’s, the electric car made a return, however its popularity did not last for long. [55] Through recent technological innovation, advances within the field of battery and storage management research, and public concern about rising oil prices, there has been a surge in popularity once again. Today, some of the largest car manufacturers such as BMW, Honda and Nissan have produced electric cars for the public to buy. As of December 2014, over 700,000 plug in passenger cars, that can be driven on public roads, have been sold. [56]

Autonomous CarsEdit

The Autonomous car, also known as a Self Driving Car, is a vehicle that uses cameras and computer technology to navigate without any human interaction. The autonomous car has not hit the mass market, and as of 2014 the only type that is commercially available are open air shuttles, with a speed of 12.5 mph. [57] The first fully autonomous car was reveled in the 1980’s by Carnegie Mellon University's Navlab. [58] Self driving cars have the ability to bring many advantages to society, such an reduction of fatal traffic collisions and car theft. Due to the occupants having to just simply select their destination, they could sleep whilst their vehicle takes them to the city, for example. According to the head of Google’s autonomous driving project, they could be available to consumers in 3-5 years. [59] On the 11th of February 2015, self driving cars were tested on UK roads for the very first time. [60]

Automotive Navigation SystemEdit

The invention of the in car Satellite Navigation device has had a large impact on how we travel today. The first automotive navigation computer was produced in 1981, in the Toyota Celcia XX, however it was not until the year 2000 when the United States made a more accurate GPS signal for civilian use. [61] The system uses GPS to acquire its current position, and can direct the driver to their destined location by using the devices map database. These databases can include the entirety of the United Kingdom, the driver must enter their destinations address, and the device will calculate the route whilst giving you step by step instructions via a pre recorded voice for the entirety of the journey. The invention of Satellite Navigation has made driving to new locations much easier, compared to using road maps and asking locals for help if you were lost, this machine can get you back on track within seconds.


E-Readers first began with the Amazon Kindle in 2009. They were originally designed to allow for readers to essentially carry a library in their pocket. An E-Reader can hold thousands of books, and make them available at the touch of a button. This advancement in the production of literature was important as it reached out to a new generation of readers and made the process easier for those who may not have been such keen readers before. E-readers are portable and low-power - an average Kindle's battery can last up to one month from one charging session. The high-resolution 'anti-glare' screen was installed to make the difficult job of reading in sunlight much easier for its userbase. Kindles and other readers now have more advanced features in addition to their basic function, including the ability to play music and browse the internet. Amazon's Kindle was so popular that they decided to bring out a tablet which also functioned as an E-Reader, called a Kindle Fire. Now, many reading applications are available on a wide variety of platforms, such as iPhones/iPods and Android phones.

Past Technological InnovationsEdit

Many basic technological innovations of the past have affected the way in which we function in society today. These include advancements such as the printing press, which became the basis for our print media industry - without which we would not have our online content today. The printing press was invented in 1400 by Johannes Gutenburg. This invention also created books - without which we wouldn't have advanced to using E-Readers, such as Kindles and Kobos. The steam engine was also an essential technological advancement which launched society from the agricultural age to the age of industry. It led to the development of cars, and other motorised vehicles.

Cultural Effects of Technological InnovationEdit

Transmediality and Media ConvergenceEdit

Media doesn't exist in a vacuum. Rather, one medium can intersect with another. This is integral to how innovation has been shaped in terms of technology as consumer experiences, which Henry Jenkins explained this in his book 'Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide': "The flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want."[62]

What Jenkins means is that the "flow of content" shapes the users' "entertainment experiences", as is explained in further detail below. Transmediality is a way of extending the original version of a piece of content, which can range from books and films to video games. It is a way of taking a story and expanding it in order to reach a wider audience. Furthermore, this allows the author, or creator, to add to the original story.

Most pieces of transmediality can be split into two categories; West Coast and East Coast Transmedia. East Coast Transmedia uses Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) to engage with users and consumers. One example is Why So Serious?, an online campaign created by the studio behind the movie The Dark Knight. It ran for a more than a year before the movie was released, and encouraged fans to engage in activities to reveal information about the film, including the first picture of Heath Ledger's Joker. West Coast Transmedia is the use of different platforms to expand an original story. This is evident in most comic book films of the last several years, which feature original characters from early comic books, involved in completely new story lines. Spider-Man and Batman, two of the most known superheroes, feature in video games, films, television programmes, books and even on mobile phone games. Geoffrey Long, Technical Director and Research Fellow at USC Annenberg AIL, describes transmedia as: "If you follow this story across all of these platforms, you will have an experience that is vastly greater than you would have had if you only experienced the movies alone.” [63]

A prime example of Transmediality is Lego. First released in 1949, Lego has went on to intersect with multiple Media platforms such as film and video games. Earning more than $450m worldwide, The Lego Movie was one of the most successful films of 2014, and also spawned a video game.

Always - On CultureEdit

Always-On Culture has meant that we appear to have gone wireless which makes technological innovation becoming fast and it means that technology is everywhere. Most people in today’s world will not leave their house without a mobile phone and with most smart phones in this day and age, people will be signed into social media accounts such as Facebook or Twitter without actually using it at that time. This creates the Always-On Culture that no matter where a person is they are always online on some platform despite perhaps being idle.

Boyd [64] says that we aren’t just dealing with technological networks here, we are dealing with social networks, real relationships, real time lives. We just happen to use technology a lot to communicate and query; to facilitate those social interactions. Boyd goes on to say that it does not matter if a person is not literally online at that specific time, being connected to the network is what it means to be always on.

Technology in Other DisciplinesEdit


Numerous philosophers have studied and written about technology, creating debate into the implications of technology for human life. Philosophy of technology is a field of philosophy which discusses the essence and significance of technology, and dates back centuries. [65]. A lot of this study relates to ideas regarding the ethics of technology in society. Philosopher Hans Jonas, for example, says that due to the advent of modern technology, the basic idea of human ethics, such as the sense that "human good... was readily determinable" is no longer existent or possible, in that technology affects the way that people act. [66] Writing in 1974, Jonas' ideas could be suggested to be especially prevalent nowadays in which the discussion of ethics in such modern phenomenons as social media comes up often. If, as Jonas suggests, technology does change or affect human behaviour, then this could be a way to explain trolling on websites such as Facebook and Twitter, attributing to a change in, or lack of, human ethics.


Technological innovation has assisted in many advances in science over the past century. The use of technology to speed up investigations into discoveries such as disease research, engineering and mathematical innovation has assisted in the advances of humans in the digital age ten fold. The production of computers has allowed scientists to create rapid and accurate calculations that would have taken a tremendous amount of time in the past. The simple matter of high speed computers touches all topics of science and has found a home in the development of human kind [67]. Although the term technology can be refereed to any human innovations throughout, it is clear that the digital age has brought around technology, that the influence and capacity to further our own field on the topic. Even a small, almost ignored device such as a cellular phone reveals the massive innovations that make emergencies, health and public participation easier, and manageable in an individuals every day affairs [68]


Technology and Politics are two topics that have come hand in hand constantly throughout human history. The idea that people are political is quite familiar as we act out of beliefs and obligations. But because we generally tend to think that technology is “merely” a tool at our disposal, conventional wisdom tells us that technology is somehow neutral. The idea that technology is in any way political might appear to be a strange one but in this case political technology refers to power relations between people, institutions and things. So, developing skills in critical thinking around these kinds of questions will help us to deconstruct the idea that technology is somehow neutral. It is more often than not, the political structures containing the most innovative technologies that are beneficial so society that are implemented. As we are constantly looking to better ourselves, this is only logical that technology would pave the way to the structure and organisation of politics. The term Technocracy come stop mind, referring to technological knowledge of an individual is what will define who the decision makers are in politics and society [69]. This can link to engineers, scientists and technologist who maintain the structure and innovations through political structure and parties. It is even fair to say that political technology in terms in a negative perspective shows advantages by individuals, such has vote manipulation using technologies developed by a specific party, or using the available technology provided to them to succeed above others [70]


Technology and History are two topics that are very strongly interlinked,with a symbiotic relationship. From History to have moved forward as we known, there has needed to be technological innovation,or we would still be in the Stone Age. Instead through experimentation,and innovation, History was pushed forward creating different Ages, which are defined by the technological advancements of the times. The very first inventions of humanity were tied to survival, hunting, and food preparation. As time progressed less basic survival inventions were created,this is were Architecture, Weaponry, even Art begin to progress not for survival but to improve upon people's experience of life. Through Medicine, Computing, Science etc. life expectancy has risen throughout history. Technological Innovation is an integral part of the human experience, as without it, life would still be very basic,fuelled by survival instincts. As opposed to the history that did occur showing innovation to better humanity's existence.


Businesses have evolved and adapted to the use of new technology for their own benefit. The advances in technology in the past decade have destroyed barriers of distance, allowing communication to be virtually instantaneous. Businesses can use computers, for example, to organize enormous databases full of customer and client information, communicate with the entirety of the workforce through email, and to communicate with potential employees. Before the introduction of the Personal Computer tasks within a business such as filing, recruitment offering and marketing could be costly and time consuming, now however these jobs can be completed in a fraction of the time they used to take. Technological inventions such as the smartphone, allows the user to check and send emails whenever, and wherever, which allows to the business to be quicker at decision-making. The ever-rising popularity of Social Media has given business a new, personal and fast way of communicating with its customers, whether it is responding to a complaint, or promoting a new product, social media can be the perfect platform for these tasks.



Alternate Reality Games (ARGs) An interactive event or game which uses transmedia storytelling to deliver a story - separate from the original - that may be altered by players' ideas or actions.

Always-On Culture The idea that people are continuously connected to a network, they can always be reached.

Automation The use of machinery in industry, as opposed to human labour.


Broadcast Transmission of a programme or some information by either radio or television.


Convergence Can mean a number of things including technological developments and changing forms of media text.

Culture The social behaviour and customs of a group of people. Culture changes over time and it varies between groups of people.

Cultural Determinism This is the idea that society has influenced technological innovation.

Cultural Theory Simply a term used to refer to a collection of conceptual frameworks for understanding all sorts of cultural phenomena.


Disinhibition the inability to control impulsive behaviours, thoughts or feelings and manifests online as people communicating in ways that they would not ordinarily do offline


Electric Car A vehicle that is powered by an electric battery


Fan Culture The fan still constitutes a scandalous category in contemporary culture, one alternately the target of ridicule and anxiety, of dread and desire […] The stereotypical conception of the fan, while not without limited factual basis, amounts to a projection of anxieties about the violation of dominant cultural hierarchies


Gaming Console An electronic device that outputs a video signal to display a video game. Users can interact with the game by using controllers.


Horizontal Integration Horizontal Integration is where an organisation develops by buying up competitors in the same section of the market e.g. one music publisher buys out other smaller music publishers.


Innovation The process of pioneering a new product, method or idea. Internet Global System of interconnected computers; a mass communications system





Media A collective term for a channel or outlet with which data or information can be distributed.


Nomophobia The fear of being without your mobile phone. Netflix An online movie and television streaming service, available on multiple platforms.


Online Identity Internet identity (also called IID), or internet persona is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. It can also be considered as an actively constructed presentation of oneself.


Produser A compound word of 'producer' and 'user', referring to someone who simultaneously fills both roles.



Remediation The idea that a new medium recycles the content of an existing one.


Social Media Social Media is the various platforms online that a person can communicate with others. Examples of this are Facebook and Twitter.


Technological Determinism The theory that technology drives the progress of a society.

Transmediality Transmedia storytelling is the telling of a single story or experience across many differ net platforms and formats including, but not limited to,social media, games, and cinema.

Trolling The posting of an opinion on an online message board with the intention of causing argument or negativity.



Vertical Integration this is where an institution has shares or owns each part of the production and distribution process.


Wireless using radio, microwaves, etc. (as opposed to wires or cables) to transmit signals





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