The effects of the digital age and social media

Introduction

The digital landscape is an ever-changing platform and throughout the past fifteen to twenty years we have seen a steep rise in digital technology. in the following report I have used data and research I have collected to ascertain the impact that the digital age has had on our personal lives, business, technology and education.

Before the digital age there were many ways in which you could go about day-to-day tasks, if you wanted to learn the answer to a question you could go to the library or look in an encyclopaedia.

By today’s standards these methods of information gathering are seen as obsolete, and they are. This way of information gathering is non efficient, by today’s standards but it isn't just information gathering that is more efficient today, old methods have been replaced by the internet, this report will detail the impact that social media and the digital age as a whole has had on the world and how it operates.

The effect on business

The digital age has spawned many online services such as Google, Facebook and Twitter, we now live in an age where both our personal and work lives can be carried out online, Google is a good example of how a company can use data to create a more efficient service.

Google’s primary revenue comes from advertisements, they essentially sell ad space to businesses, and the reason so many businesses choose Google as an advertising platform is down to the way they deliver the ads.

Google collects data based on your search habits, interests, services used and even YouTube videos that you have viewed, what they actually do with the raw data is very interesting. Google uses a method called combining data; a good example of how Google are combining data is how they are able to build spell correction models based on users search queries across all its services.

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Google generates ads based on a persons interests and gives the advertiser a direct link between them and their target audience, at present this is one of the most sophisticated ways of advertising, companies like Facebook have also adopted this approach.

A hypothetical example of this advertising method could be that a consumer uses Google to search for cinema tickets, Google has algorithms in place that notice this particular search parameter and then use this data to present cinema listings, they will use data collected from Google maps so the ads will be relative to your location.

Google has been able to create a network of services all inter connected, all sharing data to provide the user with a tailored experience. Through their understanding of data and the uses of it they have been able to create the extremely efficient well-oiled machine that Google is today.

More info on how google use your data can be found here.

The Netflix success story

The story of Netflix is an interesting topic to look at; the company was founded in 1997 and has grown concurrently with the digital age. In the beginning, Netflix offered a service similar to amazon’s love film in which DVD’s would be sent via postage.

The company continued with this method of distribution until they recognised the potential in watching instantly online, in 2008 Netflix launched their online streaming service and had a library of over 2500 movies.

In 2011, Netflix separated its postal and streaming service and began to focus heavily on streaming and making the service as efficient as possible.

Netflix has gradually become a more efficient service over time, they have done so by listening to their customers and providing a more personal, innovative way to watch movies.

Netflix also utilises the power of data, they have incorporated a feedback system in which a customer can rate titles, dependant on the customers choices the service will provide suggested titles based on their customers likes and dislikes. In turn creating a more efficient, personal and streamlined service.

As of 2015, Netflix holds net revenue of 5.4 billion US dollars, they have over 3000 titles in their catalogue and continue to develop their service, and they have currently started to invest in more original content.

In connection with my report I believe Netflix is a major example of how social media and the “digital age” have significantly impacted company efficiency, in the beginning Netflix offered a very basic postage service but after new advancements in technology, the use of data and listening to customers they have been able to develop the service organically in to the efficient and effortless product that we have today.

Find the Netflix timeline here.

The effect on our personal lives

The Internet and the digital landscape as a whole now dominate our personal lives; we can do almost everything online now, from booking a holiday to organising an event.

I wanted to find out what kind of effect that the digital age has had on our social habits and if there is a direct correlation with the growing digital landscape, to get a better understanding of peoples online habits I conducted a survey with questions based on the participants use of online services and their own thoughts on the subject matter.

The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions; I chose this format so I would be able to use the raw data to present statistics to include within the report, I was also able to create a detailed info graphic.

My survey

The survey consisted of multiple-choice questions; I chose this format so I would be able to use the raw data to present statistics to include within the report, I was also able to create a detailed info graphic.

Social media has completely changed the way in which we communicate with each other, we now are able to get messages to people quicker than ever thought possible, but is there a downside?

Social media does not provide a filter and things that you say or do are recorded, forever, there are many instances of people falling foul of this such as a young student who was jailed for 42 days over a racist tweet directed at ex footballer Fabrice Muamba. Story can be found here.

I was able to use the power of social media to share my survey, I opted for an online survey as it would capture my target audience and ensure that all the data collected contained no anomalies.

I received a total of 43 responses from the survey, I then analysed the data and worked out percentages to give me clear information on the impact of digital age and social media.

Survey can be found here.

The effect on technology

Social media has been able to develop into what it is now by the use of technology, we can communicate with each other from different sides of the planet in a matter of seconds.

Cookies are also an important part and allow websites to use previously collected micro data to help give the user a more tailored experience based on their prior activity on the site, YouTube’s recommended videos is an example of this.

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The use of smartphones is now widespread and has overtaken personal computers and laptops in terms of peoples browsing preferences. Smartphones give us the ability to organise our whole life through one device, whether it is setting an alarm or creating an event the fact remains that we are able to carry out daily tasks much quicker than that of previous generations.

The effect on education

Education is another industry that has been affected by the digital age, young minds are now able to access information much more quickly than that of two decades ago, and the ability to learn online is something which I think is a huge step forward in the efficiency of education.

Education establishments can track peoples learning progress with programs such as SAM learning which offers vast amounts of tools designed to compliment the learning process.

SAM learning also offers online tests, textbooks and utilises analytics and data to provide feedback in real time. Teachers are able to get a better grasp of where a student is in terms of their learning and current academic abilities and can use this knowledge to provide a better more efficient service for their pupils.

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Online learning resources offer people the ability to learn in their own time, such as the Open University, which enables people to achieve a degree in their own time and fit their learning around work/family commitments. The Open University was established before the introduction of the Internet and has experimented with many different teaching styles such as television broadcasts and both video and audio lectures.

With the rise of the Internet the Open University has been able to create a more polished and efficient way of delivering education materials, students are able to use social media and forums as a way of helping each other.

Summary

Many aspects of life have been overtaken by the digital age; all of our banking, shopping, music listening and film watching can be done online now effortlessly.

From my research I have found that there has indeed been a significant impact on efficiency spawning from the digital age.

· Businesses are able to collect and use data to provide a tailored user experience; they are also able to communicate and advertise to their target audience directly.

· Our personal lives have become easier with the digital age, we can organise our entire life with one device meaning that we ourselves have become more efficient with the help of the Internet and smartphones.

· Technology has developed with the digital age; we now have connectivity between services through the Internet. Media devices, programs and websites are all able to work in unison as a direct result of the digital age.

· Education has also developed in conjunction with the digital age; students can now access online tools and receive feedback in real time, SAM learning which I mentioned previously is a perfect example of how education has become more efficiency with the digital age.

In conclusion I will say that my research has shown that the digital age has had a significant impact on efficiency as a whole. With the introduction of new technology and significant advancements with the Internet a large proportion of the world has become more efficient as a direct result.

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