ITGS Syllabus

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Topic 158

Face-to-face communications versus communications via technology by Tanay

There are several issues laying at hand when comparing face-to-face communications with communications via technology.

For starters, face-to-face communications is direct communication from one source to another, where as communications via technology is indirect communication. Moreover, on one hand where face-to-face communications is pretty much a single option, on the other hand there are several methods of communication via technology.

Face-to-face communications pretty much explains itself and gives us an idea of what it is. Whereas, there are several aspects of communications via technology. The three most popular communication methods via technology are television sets, mobile phones, and computers.
Television sets are commonly used to communicate messages to the public. Commonly known as broadcast systems, television sets communicate through the forms of news media, advertisements, and shows. All of these send messages to us. They communicate an inner language that helps us understand both the world and ourselves better. Television sets motivate us instilling us with dreams and imaginations – some of which are foreseeings of future comings.

Mobile phone and computers are much similar forms of communications. Mobile phones and computers help us to communicate with others on different ends of the world. Due to the advancement in technology both devices aid in countering dangerous acts, in fighting wars, in having peaceful settlements, and so forth.

But, unlike face-to-face communications there are many social and ethical issues when using technological communication methods. Due to our advancements in technology, we are able to track conversations through technological devices, we can alter conversations, or we can use one conversation against another to cause commotion. Electronic systems now reach into all levels of government, into the workplace, and into private lives to such an extent that even people without access to these systems are affected in significant ways by them. New ethical and legal decisions are necessary to balance the needs and rights of everyone.

The broad issues relating to electronic information systems include control of and access to information, privacy and misuse of data, and international considerations. All of these extend to electronic networks, electronic databases, and, more specifically, to geographic information systems. Specific problems within each of the three areas, however, require slightly different kinds of ethical decisions. Networks, electronic information systems in general, and geographic information systems in particular are discussed separately below.

Technology itself has become so hard to control that we have come out with rules to control our technology and have gone as far as introducing acts enabling us to misuse technology – such as the Patriot Act. Public agency mandates and the right to access of public records are also creating problems of a different sort. Some agencies are charged with responsibilities to study and thereby help protect endangered species, others to understand and help preserve archaeological sites. Some of these agencies are finding that detailed information about species and their habitats or about sensitive archaeological sites can also harm endangered animals or places. Habitats and sites become vulnerable because they become known. The problem lies in the right to access of public records. Agencies may decide that the best protection of species or sites is simply to not gather detailed information about them.

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Face-to-face communications versus communications via technology by Taro

Face-to-face communication and communication via technology may serve the same purpose of exchanging various thoughts and information, but there are certain distinctions between the two methods. Face-to-face is obviously meeting a person or several people and forming words with one's mouth. We 'speak' and 'listen'. There is no other alternative action in that type of communication. Communication via technology on the other hand has some variations. It might be over the phone or the sending and receiving of typed words, such as e-mails and MSN messenger. In contrast with the face-to-face, phoning has the advantage of talking from afar, for example from one country to another.

However the drawbacks are that it is usually for only two people and as the distance between the them gets longer and longer, more money is required for the person calling. In addition to that, this type of conversation does not occur if one of the two has a defected technology or is in a bad environment. It is common that statics cause loss of messages. Also in the case of country-to-country, the time lag is often the problem. It is important to note that nowadays 'phoning' is not simply the use of telephone, but also can be the use of cell-phone or even computer program, like Skype.

Moving onto e-mails and MSN, these have a function that allows conversation with multiple number of people. Just like phoning, there is the good feature of long-distant communication. It is much cheaper so it makes it easier for one to keep contact with friends or relatives oversea. Another strong feature that can be noticed is the accuracy of the messages, since they are typed and are possible to be stored.

However the drawback this time is that in comparison with the face-to-face communication, the level of emotion that appears is very low. These can be improved to certain extent if the individuals use keys such as exclamation marks, or capitalize the letters. But they must be careful with this, since misunderstandings are frequent in net communication. The exclamation after a critical statement might make the receiver think that the sender is angry, when the sender was just being honest.

The minorities who support indirect conversation over direct one, emphasize that in situations where they are embarassed to tell their true feelings about something, like a time in which they are confessing their love towards someone, e-mail or MSN is preferable because they have time to think of good structured sentences. But again this can lead to a misunderstanding of the receiver; he/she not taking the message seriously would be an example.

To prevent such cases, specific areas are being improved by the manufacturers. For MSN messenger, the latest versions of it allow the simultaneous use of a webcam, which transmits one's visual images and shows it on the receiver's window. In this way, the receiver is able to see the facial expressions of the sender while he/she is chatting(typing).

Today the whole set comes in one pack: abilities of verbal talk, transmission of visual images, and typing words. So overall, communication via technology, especially MSN, seems like a better way of communicating than face-to-face. However even if the issue of emotions is cleared up, the fact that face-to-face is 'close' and MSN is 'furthur apart' sometimes show the difference in level of friendliness.

What is meant here is that when a person chooses one of the two types, face-to-face, to communicate with another person, he/she might be doing so because he/she really likes the other person and he thinks MSN is just for talking with someone who he doesn't talk to that much usually.


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