The Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines digital as "available in electronic form; readable and manipulable by computer." The term "digital technology," then, refers to technology that is electronic and computer based, such as laptops, cellphones and other portable devices. This field is continuously evolving and has dramatically changed the way we communicate in a variety of arenas.
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Digital communication has greatly altered the way people communicate in a business climate. Instead of having to talk to a sales associate and that individual manually filling out a form for a customer's order, the customer can now place orders online with an automated system, decreasing the necessity of interpersonal communication. E-mail has sped necessary communications, allowing business to be done at an accelerated pace. Smartphones have increased accessibility to these fast moving communications and information databases, allowing business and business communications to take place at any time in any place with a signal.
Digital technology has changed the way interpersonal communication operates. It is easier than ever to maintain relationships and close contact. Cellphones, e-mail, instant messaging and video conferencing allow people to talk to each other at any time. Social networking sites like Facebook and Myspace allow people to keep friends and families in the loop by posting status updates. It has also changed the way people communicate. Internet slang uses different commonly understood abbreviations. For example, "lol" stands for laughing out loud and is used to indicate a humoured response to a message that has been sent.
Digital technology has greatly impacted the way communication takes place in the world of education. Assignments, lecture notes, quizzes, and sometimes even complete courses, can be delivered online in secondary and postsecondary education. This had made education and the messages conveyed therein accessible in more places, more frequently. Moreover, accessibility to professors has been expanded with the use of e-mail, allowing students to communicate with professors more often about different concerns without going to campus or waiting for school the next day.
Nobody likes to think about natural disasters, but digital technology has greatly improved our ability to communicate during such catastrophes. Satellite phones, for example, allow relief workers to communicate assessments and needs with one another in areas where traditional telephone lines have gone down. Internet sites allow relief organisations to communicate their needs to the public, increasing the chances of them receiving help. For instance, using the social networking site Twitter, the American Red Cross encouraged the public to donate money via text messaging to the relief efforts operating in the aftermath of a massive earthquake in Haiti. Within 48 hours, they had raised over £4 million.
Digital technology has changed the way we communicate who we are. The ability to carve out our own corner of the web has become increasingly simple with the surging popularity of blogging, social networking platforms and easy-to-use web design software. This has allowed individuals to express their beliefs, feelings and thoughts in an unprecedented manner. It has also called into question the concept of privacy in communication on the web. For example, news that the Library of Congress would be cataloguing "tweets" sent by users on Twitter led to an outcry from the public concerning infringement on privacy.
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