Interactivity has as of late become one of the biggest concerns with product development. This does not come as much of a surprise given that interactivity has an addictive nature and is found to be much more stimulating than passive media interaction. This understanding of superiority in this way of presenting subject matter has been recognised in many fields, utilized in others, and is being looked into by many this very moment. This idea of interactivity is where one can affect their experience with whatever product they are using. This is a valid definition of interactivity, with another simply being an improved ability to access or interact with content. What we are concerned with most in this essay is how interactivity changes the way in which people communicate with authority. People have always been forced to deal with multiple forms of authority and with the development of more advanced interactive technologies these interactions have been made easier, safer and in most cases more personally satisfactory.

One way in which interactivity has changed the way in which we communicate with authority is media coverage and information distribution within the electoral process. This year has been home to one of the most intense on controversial elections in the history of the united states. However what served to intensify this election was its presence on social media, with candidates taking to social forum sites and posting on popular applications such as twitter. In years past candidates have been been covered on media outlets, such as on news outlets ranging from large studios like Fox, CNN, and NBC to local news stations, as well as newspapers and magazines. These older media forms of information distribution have brought information on electoral candidates and the many issues the the presidential candidate has to face, however with interactive media being adopted by the 2016 electoral candidates the game has changed. Important information that would have once taken a day or two to reach political candidates now reaches them within an hour of when a major event has occurred, if not sooner.

With interactive media these important figures are now able to voice their opinions or ideas about almost any incident mere moments after something has occurred through email or social media, now more often than not being delivered to our mobile devices. This gives candidates in this election a way of expressing themselves beyond what they are able to spit out during press conferences and debates, and can give people a better sense of how a candidate really feels and acts in their reactions. It also allows them to respond to individual post and vice versa, allows individuals to respond in many different ways. Some popular ways of collecting opinions and data through social media during the election have included your standard message board comprised of posts submitted by people, polls which allow people to anonymously submit their answer to a question posed online, and interactive video where a viewer can click on link to open another tab or load a new video related to their previously viewed one.  According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center “20% of social media users have changed their views on a political or social issue based on something they saw on social media”. This is very important because when you think about the amount of voters that have access to social media, that is a very large group of individuals. When you are talking about the population of the United States, creating a 20% shift in political opinion and social views via interactive media is huge, huge enough to change who could win the election. The power of interactive media in the world of government is huge because it shows how much power people can display through their opinions on subjects and it shows a new level of communication between the candidates and the masses. This is just one way in which interactive media has transformed the way that we communicate with authority.

Another instance in which the relationship between interactivity and authority has recently become a hot topic is with police officers and body cameras. Body cameras for police officers was an idea that became backed by the general public after multiple reports of white police officers attacking unarmed minorities became heavily covered by social media and news outlets. There were reports of these types of shootings before in places such as New York however some of the more popularised ones that helped to launch this initiative include the Baltimore and Ferguson shootings, which were covered on every major news outlet. After these many instances of minority shootings, the Black Lives Matter campaign has recently become very prominent in the online social community and believe that body cameras are one way to limit these incidents of discrimination. Now if there is a scenario in which a member of a minority were to be doing nothing illegal, simply minding his own business, and law enforcement agents were to suddenly begin harassing him, there would be video recorded proof that could be used to show the validity of the officers actions.

The idea behind body cameras is that every police officer will be wearing a Go-Pro style camera on their chest, and all of their interactions with people (pulling someone over, giving a ticket, or even a shootout) will be recorded and will be physical, court admissible pieces of evidence that can make court cases much easier to process. Studies of officers working with these body cameras on them have yielded some impressive results. In an article published by Journalist’s Resource research shows that “Officers who did not wear cameras performed 9.8% more stop-and-frisks and made 6.9% more arrests; Officers assigned to wear cameras issued 23.1% more citations for ordinance violations than those who did not wear cameras; Officers with body cameras initiated 13.5% more interactions with citizens than those who did not wear them; Officers wearing cameras were 25.2% more likely to perceive the devices as being helpful during their interactions with the public; and the cameras did not have a significant impact on whether or not officers gave verbal warnings to citizens.” Now these are a lot of facts condensed into one area but these can all be perceived as improvements. Police officers are not only engaging with more people, which means that they are aware that they are being surveyed and should maintain a steady pace at work, but they are also increasing the quality of their work, with less unnecessary arrest being made and more citations being given where they likely should be. These trends are a step in the right direction and more steps are being made so that soon all law enforcement officers will be wearing these body cameras. This form of interactivity makes it so that on an individual level police officers in the field are more conscious of what they are doing and minorities that are commonly targeted will be safer because they are under surveillance during these sorts of encounters with officials.

One way that interactivity can change the relationship between a user and authority can be seen in the educational system. One such website that is quickly becoming popular in classrooms and companies alike is Slack. Slack is an interactive messaging website that according to some, is capable of sinking Email in its entirety. Slack shares a lot of similarities with email, however in an article posted by The New York Times they stated “Slack has a few unusual features that make it perfectly suited for work, including automatic archiving of all your interactions, a good search engine and the ability to work across just about every device you use. Because it is hosted online and is extremely customizable, Slack is also easy for corporate technology departments to set up and maintain.”  These capabilities, such as being multi platform make this a very versatile application and should be introduced to all students in the educational field. It allows for the ease of communication for individuals, groups, and teachers making it extremely useful for students and faculty with very busy schedules.

In conclusion there are many new and exciting systems of interaction that change the way that people are able to communicate with authority. There are new social systems being set up like Slack to improve the interactions of student with faculty and workers with their employers. The increase in political involvement in social media allows for increased interaction with political and governmental figures in office or during elections. The implementation of body cameras on law enforcement officials allows for safer interactions between police officers and minority groups, as well as more efficient court ruling when officers break the rules and must report to the authority above them. All of these new forms of communication over online and mobile networks improve the relations between user and authority and seem to benefit all parties involved, transforming these interactions with authority into much safer and efficient instances.

Citations :

Anderson, M. (2016, November 7). Social media causes some users to rethink their views on an issue. Retrieved from http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/11/07/social-media-causes-some-users-to-rethink-their-views-on-an-issue/

Do body cameras change how police interact with the public? – Journalist’s Resource. (2016). Retrieved November 18, 2016, from http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/criminal-justice/body-cameras-police-interact-with-public

Manjoo, F. (2015). Slack, the Office Messaging App That May Finally Sink Email. Retrieved November 21, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/12/technology/slack-the-office-messaging-app-that-may-finally-sink-email.html



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