This past week we’ve discussed whether or not digital technology fundamentally changes forms of communication. Some argue that the internet has actually changed the way people communicate citing decreases in verbal communication among other things as evidence of fundamental shifts in communication. Others argue that the essence of communication has not changed, the way it occurs has just evolved. This argument emphasizes that although the scale and scope of communication has largely changed due to social media sites like Facebook, the fundamental nature of connecting with someone is the same. Tom R. Tyler argues that people quickly adapt to changing technologies, but that they use them all for the common purpose of bettering their life. Therefore, he argues that abundantly available technology has not changed what communication is, but is being used to communicate in new and better ways.
I started thinking about this in relation to the e-portfolio I am building on my own website and how that is a new form of communicating who I am and what I do. In the past, people presented themselves and their work through résumés and physical portfolios. Now, more and more people are digitizing their portfolios as a more efficient means of representing themselves to the world. An e-portfolio can be a cheaper, more flexible alternative to the portfolios of the past that can be distributed easily and effectively (see this article). The essence of what a portfolio is (a representation of the work you do and what it means to you) is not fundamentally changed by the move to a digital portfolio. Instead, an e-portfolio is an evolution of the portfolio that better suits trends in modern society. Similarly, technology has not essentially changed what it means to communicate with someone, it has just evolved to become more applicable in society today.