In Social Structure, Van Dijk argues that space and time are still an intricate part of modern society. We no longer have a problem with time. Everything is stored and can be sent in an instant. There are ever more efficient ways of spreading information. Things such as emails and social media sites make it easy to constantly communicate. He also speaks of changing communication groups and the different access people have to networking technology. To many people’s interest, he gives a different insight into the digital divide and how it’s not a matter of physical access but a matter of digital “literacy” skills. Another topic discussed is how virtual communication has created discourse communities that have never been seen before. Instant messaging and things such as facebook are examples of new communication groups that are formed in our network society. To my interest, Van Dijk takes a stand against people who negatively speak of online interaction. He speaks of online contact as a way to support each other. His views are quite interesting and make light out of the network society.
Jan Van Dijk is a professor at the University of Twente in the Netherlands. He specializes in sociology and communication science. He is very well respected for the two books he published called The Deepening Divide, Inequality in the Information Society, and The Network Society, which is where our class excerpt is from. The book “The Network Society” was published in 1991 and is applicable to most people, but was most likely written for people who study or are interested in sociology. It isn’t the most difficult read and it does an incredible job of predicting the future of our technological society.
This book got very good reviews from many of the people who read it. Professor Robin Mansell from the London School of Economics and Political Science said, “This new edition provides deep interdisciplinary insight into the significance of new media in our lives.” Also to my interest Professor Downey stated, “If there was a textbook for this course it would be The Network Society.” In the novel Life is Elsewhere, author Milan Kundera speaks of the ever-growing space and how society is seeing the individual relevance shrink. People are putting their interests into things happening elsewhere. Van Dijk agrees that people see more importance now on something happening elsewhere because they now can see what is happening at any instant due to technology.
As a whole the piece was very interesting and is very applicable to the society we live in today. It was interesting to me how Van Dijk reconstructed the digital divide. Van Dijk writes, “After having acquired the motivation to use computers and some kind of physical access to them, one has to learn to manage the hardware and software.” He is showing society that the digital divide is not created just from physical access, but it is kept because people are not taught how to use computers and therefore never able to close the gap. If individuals are correctly taught on how to use technology the digital divide could become non-existent.
Dijk, Jan Van. The Network Society. London: Sage Publication, 1991. Print.
Downey, Greg. LIS201 Lecture. Humanities, Madison. 30 Sept. 2014. Lecture.
Mansell, Robin. "The Network Society." Review. n.d.: n. pag. Print.
Kundera, Milan. Life Is Elsewhere. New York: Knopf;, 1974. Print.