Communication and Media Technology
The USA prides itself on its ability to improve and develop new modes of communication and information transfer (i. e. telephone, internet). By combining media and information, the world has indeed changed. For example, computer networks, telephone links, satellite transmission, and publishing have been integrated into what is commonly known as the internet. This combinations of technology, naturally enough, created a new wave of business. What was once the sole domain of telephone companies — simple phone lines — has now expanded to include mass information transfer and television. All of this requires fiber-optic lines. Likewise, television stations can now do more business for their customers. For example, a customer can select a movie or other interesting program from a viewers' menu and order that specific film for viewing.
Another example of mass information transfer and communication technology is the ability to offer entire university courses over the internet. The majority of American universities offer internet courses where you can read text materials, take exams, and actually watch a lecturing professor that has been recorded on video. Some of these lectures are also transmitted over the internet in what is called real time. What this means is live broadcast. Students can also send their questions about the course or lecture through e-mail or through real time interactive dialogues.
Today, if you are a computer user, you can buy a wealth of information/media software that include the entire work of Shakespeare, encyclopedias, dictionaries, language learning programs (known as CALL: Computer Assisted Language Learning), etc. Most of these products are contained on a single CD-ROM. Many American universities already use, or are in the process of establishing, CALL labs. Students can improve their pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, and writing through interaction with a computer. Likewise, other courses that include political science, literature, and marketing can be learned and/or facilitated through similar computer labs.
The widespread use of the internet grows even greater every day. It is impossible to determine exactly how many people use the internet, but it can be documented just how dependent America and other countries have become to the internet. In the year 2000, there was a problem, officially called Y2K, in data storage and retrieval. Computer intelligence did not know how to cope with two zeros in the last two digits of the year. Experts predicted that there may be mass computer crashes. The implications would have impact on hospitals, government agencies, university records, banking, flight reservations, and credit cards. The government had put official warnings out on both the internet and on television. One example of their precautions was to simply not use credit cards for payment from the time period beginning in December 1999 through February 2000, as the charges may be inaccurate.
Nevertheless, the growth of the internet, the media, and mass communication has indeed facilitated the global community. Ordinary citizens of different countries can now actually communicate with each other via the internet. The speed and efficiency of the computer age has displaced much older technology. For example, many people would rather do their business communications through e-mail rather than what has now been labeled "snail-mail".