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Can software change culture?

By Jay Goldman ·
Heard a great story from my colleague today about a sales call he was on a few years ago. They were meeting with an SVP of HR, who took the very hardline position that software can't change culture. He was frustrated then because he lacked examples to disprove her theory, but the intervening two years have given him plenty ? Facebook, Craigslist, Napster, and iTunes just to name a few.

I thought I'd put it out there as a question for the TR community: what do you think? Can software change culture?

(Some more background on the story and why he thinks it can at

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In a way, yes

by NexS In reply to Can software change cultu ...

Take Instant Messaging/SMS as a prime example.

Now if you took a snapshot of the way we speak and send emails, and type anything, from before IM/SMS became so big and compared it to how we are now, there's a very big difference.

"Hello, George. I have a meeting at 10:00am and so I may be late for lunch."
As opposed to:
"Hi George, hv mting @10. myt b l8 2 lunch."

Appalling, I know.

Edited for extra appallingness.

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Thanks for the original message.

by CharlieSpencer In reply to In a way, yes

Otherwise I would have had to ask for a translation. Some of us still don't use IM and aren't familiar with the abbreviations.

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Lucky you

by NexS In reply to Thanks for the original m ...

I am envious.

My age bracket grew up with it, and therefor there's no realistic way for me to escape it.

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Appreciate the Extra!

by Jay Goldman In reply to In a way, yes

Thanks for the edit for extra appallingness NexS :)

I've noticed lately that the standards for what's grammatically (and even editorially) acceptable are slipping pretty quickly. I regularly read things that have spelling mistakes, extra words, obvious errors, etc. both online and in print.

My first instinct is to be saddened, but the truth is that language is always evolving. An English speaker from 100 years ago would have been appalled at our use even before the TXTing revolution. I remember recently reading that there are now (or soon to be) more English-as-a-second-language speakers than there are English-as-a-primary-language speakers. That has the potential to shape the language far more than texting does!

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My concern

by CharlieSpencer In reply to Appreciate the Extra!

is that grammatical errors may lead to factual ones. "Citizen journalism" didn't have very strong standards to begin with. Look at the selective editing involved in that flap over the 'discriminatory' Dept. of Agriculture employee a few months ago. One unpleasant cultural change is that many believe anything on the Internet is true by default.

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Many believe

by santeewelding In reply to My concern

Must be so. I'm reading it, right here, on the internet.

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Journalistic Standards

by Jay Goldman In reply to My concern

It's true that the standards of 'citizen journalism' aren't as high as traditional media outlets, but only up to a point. I trust bloggers who I have been reading for a long time far more than I trust random journalists in publications I don't know, especially if I've built up a relationship with the blogger through comments, Twitter, etc.

There have also been lots of examples of Mainstream Media (MSM) journalists involved in fabrication (see, for example, Jayson Blair There's also the more subtle bias (generally political) of some publications ? the NYT leans Democrat, Fox News is straight out Republican. I think it's easy to fall into the idea that MSM is inherently more trustworthy ??I would say it's incumbent on the reader to always be cynical and questioning regardless of the source.

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by santeewelding In reply to Journalistic Standards

Pay attention to what is happening right under your nose. Not only what Palmetto did, but what you are doing, citizen journalist.

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Second languages

by NexS In reply to Appreciate the Extra!

I find it, though cruel, a necessity to look down on bad english-as-a-second-language users.
If they think they're doing it right, and aren't then they won't try harder. Call it 'constructive criticism'.

I'm also inclined to say that english of the Shakespearean era was almost a different language altogether. There were many differences in words and the way we use them.
But then again, it's not as different to 'Middle English'.

I hope never to lose sight of the core meanings of words, and I think Santee keeps us all on our toes with that one. Well, for em at least!

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Software can change and even create "culture".

How many people, outside a few of us, even knew what a computer was 30 years ago? 20 years ago? Software, along with the hardware, made possible an ever changing culture that didn't exist. Gaming, word processing, web browsing...the list is growing.
Now, some could argue that our "culture" has actually decreased, since it seems a large proportion of society is self-absorbed in their newest little hand-held gadgets. But it seems to me just another sub-culture.

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