In Manuel Castell’s “Materials for an Exploratory Theory of the Networked Society”, he states that humans have moved from the industrial age to the information age. He also claims that we now live in a new economy. This new economy is composed of three important features. First, it is informational. This means that the productivity of a region, whether it be a city or a country, it based on its capacity to generate knowledge and subsequently process and manage it. Second, it is global. Its activities, whether they be in science and technology, business, communication media, and more are able to work in a “planetary scale.” These activities, Castells states, can exist in either real time or “chosen time.” Finally, this economy is networked. Castells describes the new form of economic organization which he calls the network enterprise, which is composed of firms existing on decentralized networks and relying on the sharing of information and often the changing of alliances once information has been shared.
Within the “cultural realm” Castells acknowledges communication that is characterized by networking and flexibility. This ultimately leads to two important concepts called “timeless time” and the “space of flows.” Timeless time is what has resulted from the emergence of new communication technologies, as they have worked to both compress and de-sequence time. Space of flows is defined by Castells as “the technological and organizational possibility of organizing the simultaneity of social practices without geographical continuity.” This defies geographic regions and seemingly allows us to be in two places at once.
The concepts put forth by Castells are very evident in our everyday lives. Timeless time and the space of flows have clearly disordered our social interactions in a way that has made them much more complicated as a result of new communication technologies. Certain activities are now able to be conducted that were previously impossible, such as essentially being in two places at one time. The technology of Skype allows us to remain physically in one location while visually seeming to exist in a completely different place. We can see, hear, and talk to people from across the globe. This technology has allowed to me attend interviews and see and talk to friends in New York while remaining in my flat in London. This has completely compressed the time it would have previously taken to see and talk to them which would have required me to get on an over six hour flight to the United States.
As a whole, the network society has completely altered communication systems and the way we receive and process information. Stories are broken on social media as soon as they happen, and live updates allow us to essentially be in the moment of the news as it happens. Interactions are more scrambled than ever before as we belong to both small and large networks and are able to share information through countless channels, from traditional television news to Twitter and Facebook. In the network society, we are constantly connected and in so many different ways, and there is no doubting that this has completely changed the structure of society as a result.