Media Revolution: From Cell Phones to the Internetメディア革命:携帯からインターネットまで

African-American singer/songwriter Gil Scott-Heron — considered to be a “founding father” of hip-hop music — wrote a song in 1970 called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” about the lack of TV news reporting on the important social changes then occurring throughout American society.

Why the U.S. news media whiteout? Maybe it was because “revolution” is, understandably, a word that tends to make people nervous. Whether it is in the political, cultural or journalistic spheres, a revolution means a major change from the status quo.

There is one revolution nowadays, however, that citizens in the United States not only seem to feel comfortable with but are rushing to embrace at lightning speed: the revolution in new media technology.

It is hard to imagine now that the telephone, for example, was once a device that people hung by a cord on the wall of a room. Today, millions of Americans own a cellular phone (often called a “cell phone”) and use it as a form of cordless communication wherever they go. The technology of the cell phone — which is actually a kind of sophisticated radio — dates back to 1947 in the U.S., when such phones were first used in some American cars.

The technology continued developing over the decades up to the present day. Now about half of all American citizens own a cellular phone; among those, an estimated 20 percent of all American teen-agers reportedly own cell phones.

Nowhere, though, is the new digital revolution more symbolized than in the Internet.

The Internet technology has its earliest roots in the “space race” of the 1950s, when the United States and the former Soviet Union (now Russia) were fierce competitors and devoted much money and resources to exploring outer space. The U.S. military continued developing this technology over the years until it became what we know today as the Internet and the World Wide Web.

In a
2003 study, researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) found that more than 70 percent of Americans who use the Internet regard online technology as their primary source of information, “ranking the Internet higher as an information source than all other media, including television and newspapers.”

How the times have changed. If Gil Scott-Heron were to write a 21st-century follow-up to his critical song of 35 years ago, he might well have to title it: “The Revolution is Finally Being Televised — Digitally.”