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By sarbearr Oct 03, 2013 694 Words
Progression is clear in all aspects of our lives, however most fundamental in fostering ‘progress’ is technology. We most often think of technologies as ‘things’, and therefore they can be clearly measured and linked to progress. (Slack and Wise 2005 p. 12) Technology can be seen as synonymous with a better life, as it has many benefits in allowing society to advance and improve, however technological advancement can also have severe ramification on users and society as a whole. This can be clearly seen through the new social media ‘Instagram’, which relies upon innovation and technological advancement to remain relevant to modern society.

The ‘story of progress’ is a means of promoting a better life, or a superior product. Key examples of this throughout history include the Chicago World's Fair in 1933, where the belief that technology drives civilization was formed. (Burke, 2013 p 27) Also John Kennedy’s 1960 election speech, which he adopted a widely held technological determinist position, stating that science and technology were crucial for the progression of America. Similarly modern companies use these techniques to sell their product. Instagram, as one of the most prominent social media acts as a key example of how technological advancement has allowed a group to convey a sense of ‘progress’ in order to promote their product.

Instagram, created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger was released in late 2010, solely as a photo-sharing media that derived from ‘Facebook’. Instagram is only accessible via smart phones, forcing users to technologically progress, and therefore promoting the idea that a better life is synonymous with technology. Like JFK’s ideology of the ‘New Frontier’, Instagram acts as a symbol of progress for its time, as it focuses on innovation and advancement to remain relevant and include its audience. This can be clearly seen in the recent changes Instagram made to their rights and regulations in a bid “to create meaningful ways to help you discover new and interesting accounts and content” (Systrom, 2013 p1).

However progress is not always seen as positive, as technological advancement can have ramifications. Instagram experienced these consequences, when promoting their innovative advertising campaign, which stated that they were able to sell users photos for advertising purposes, without users permission. This led to an outburst amongst Instagram users, who felt their privacy was not being respected and instead invaded and abused. These feelings are reinforced through a users comment "Instagram's suicide note". (Cubbit, 2012, p 3) Although progression can be seen as moving forward, often it is at the expense of peoples viewpoints and in this case, progression led to a business’s lack of concern for its user base. In many ways this event can be linked to manifest destiny, as like American who believed their cruel actions against the indigenous people where justified because of their destiny to expand, Instagram justifies their actions in the name of innovation.

Instagram, successfully uses the ‘story of progress’ to promote their social network. Although progress may be positive in initially promoting Instagram as a new and innovative social media, the effects of technological advancement are not always positive. This can be clearly seen through their advertising campaign, as users felt their privacy and rights were being abused. Thus it cannot be said that technology is synonymous to a better life, or that technology and progress are only positive.

Reference list

1. BBC news. (2012). ‘Instagram seeks right to sell access to photos to advertisers’. Whole webpage. BBC news, viewed 18/3/13 2. Declan McCullagh .(2012). ‘Instagram says it now has the right to sell your photos’. Whole webpage. C net, first viewed 18/3/13, 3. Kevin Systrom, co-founder of instagram, ‘Thank you, and we’re listening’. Whole webpage Instagram, first viewed 18/3.13

4. Murphie, A., & Potts, J. (2003). Theoretical Frameworks. ‘In Culture and technology’ (pp. 11-38). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

5. Slack, J. D., & Wise, J. M. (2005). Progress. In Culture + technology: A primer (pp. 6-26). New York: Peter Lang.

6. Dr W Burke. (2013) Lecture 2 Progress. All pages. LSM101 Cultural Perspectives on Science and Technology

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