The Rise of Communication Technology & Society

Instructor: Mary Matthiesen-Jones

Mary has worked around the world for over 30 years in international business, advertising, and market research. She has a Master's degree in International Management and has taught University undergraduate and graduate level courses .

Today we are constantly connected with the world through a wide variety of communication devices. Learn how some of the latest technologies are changing our communication needs, and how we communicate. After you learn about them you can test your knowledge with a quiz!

Communication in the Digital Age

Remember snail mail? If you wanted to send a personal or business message, sending actual letters through the mail used to be the way people communicated. It might take days for your letter to arrive, and days more for an answer. But, that was the only option. And if you were away from home, and needed to make a phone call, you looked for the nearest pay phone, and hoped you had the right change!

Today we still need to send messages and make phone calls. But with today's technologies. we are no longer constrained by boundaries such as location and speed. Communication needs remain the same, but current and emerging devices and technologies are changing how we communicate.

Smart Communication Today

What makes communication technology smart? In simplest terms, if a device can do more than its core function and exchange data with other devices, it's smart.

Smart Phones

Most cell phones today are now smartphones because they can be used, not only to make calls, but also to send text messages, and emails, to other devices. They can be used to surf the internet, take pictures, record videos, play music, and more. The average smartphone today has more computing power than a room-sized supercomputer from the 1980's! With that power and the available applications, mass communication in written, audio, and video formats, can all take place through a single handheld device.


Tablets add another dimension to mass communication. They are more than just a portable computer. They combine features found on computers with those of smartphones. Tablets also offer additional communication features such as text-to-speech, and other assistive technologies not found on smartphones. Populations such as those with communication challenges who were previously excluded from many mass communications can now be reached. Tablets facilitate mass communication quickly, and easily, to larger populations than ever before.


Smartwatches traditionally work as companion devices to smartphones, using the same operating system. Using Bluetooth technology, smartwatches enable you to check email, answer calls, send simple text messages, and more, without having to access your smartphone. You can link almost any application that you have on your smartphone to your smartwatch. Smartwatches also offer another vehicle for mass communications to reach you. The key advantage is user convenience. And of course, they also still tell time!

These three mainstays of smart technology have altered the mass communication landscape. More and more people are turning away from traditional mass media and are turning to their smart devices to access news and entertainment as well as to communicate with other people.

What the Future Holds

Today's smart technologies that we take for granted, which are becoming the new core media for mass communication, are only the beginning.

The Internet of Things

In homes and offices, in cars, and even on our bodies, when physical devices are connected through software or sensors, and data is exchanged, that is the internet of things. When you can program the lights to come on in your home from your smartphone, you are part of the internet of things. When you can look inside your refrigerator to see what's there while you are actually in the store shopping, that's the internet of things. As more and more appliances, cars, and other devices become smart, the internet of things will change how we communicate with inanimate devices, as well as people. That smart refrigerator, will not only tell you what you need to buy but will offer up ads, for where to buy.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

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