Bandura (1999) explains the concept of social cognitive theory as “a theoretical framework applicable to both individualistically and collectivistically oriented social systems through its expanded conception of human agency exercised individually, socially mediated, and collectively” (p. 278). The digital age revolutionized communication practices and created a global community that blurs traditional notions of time, distance, and space. Bandura (1999) argues that electronic technologies “transmit new ways of thinking and behaving simultaneously to vast number of people in widely dispersed locales” (p. 25). The internet offers an accessible space for billions of people to exchange ideas and collect information in a matter a seconds. As a social learning tool, the internet provides an endless amount of information from sources varying in reliability.
This means that the construction of knowledge is at least partially dependent on an individual’s ability to conduct digital research. Bandura (1999) describes electronic inquiry as a “complex cognitive skill requiring a resilient sense of efficacy” (p. 29). A skilled researcher is more likely to gather data that is both accurate and relevant. Bandura (2002) explains that the “accelerated growth of knowledge is greatly enhancing human power to control, transform, and create environments of increasing complexity and to shape their social future. (Bandura, 2002, p. 272).
Digital storage is more cost effective than print and allows individuals and groups to secure and access data with ease. As a result, less information is being stored in print form. Over time most information will only be “accessible electronically and knowing how to search for information is vital for knowledge construction and effective functioning” (Bandura, 1999, p.29). A person with poor research skills is more likely to have difficulties sifting through the information or may require more time and energy to achieve the same results. Bandura (2002) explains that “with growing international embeddedness and interdependence of societies, and enmeshment in the Internet symbolic culture, the issues of interest center on how national and global forces interact to shape the nature of cultural life” (p. 284).
The host of the show, Mike Rugnetta discusses whether Google should be considered ‘knowledge’ and if it has made people more knowledgeable. The internet influences social learning and social learning affects culture. Rugnetta uses John Locke’s theory of knowledge, defining knowledge as: “the perception of, the connection of an agreement or disagreement of any of our ideas”. Locke argues that ideas themselves are not knowledge. Facts and ideas become knowledge when they are put to use with and against other facts and ideas.
Rugnetta explains that if knowledge is the collection and systematization of facts, then websites like Google should be considered ‘knowledge’. Rugnetta explains that websites like Amazon and Netflix are forms of knowledge according to Locke’s theory because they gather information based on the user’s selections or purchases and formulates suggestions based on connections in the data. As technology continues to grow and evolve, understanding how to find information will be essential. The digitization of information has changed the way we produce, distribute, and consume information. Clearly the role of technology and its influence on social knowledge and culture are important factors to consider in analyzing communication.
Bandura, A. (1999). Social cognitive theory: An agentic perspective. Asian Journal of Social Psychology, 21-41.
Bandura, A. (2002). Social Cognitive Theory in Social Context. Applied Science, 269-290.