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Web Portfolio Information

Web Portfolios in the Information Society and Future

This web design lesson offers theories behind why the networked e-portfolio (Web portfolio) will evolve into the post modern identity vehicle for the knowledge worker of the new millennium. Ideas behind how Web portfolios are narratives and can change society are established based on writings from information science theorists and scientists including Jean Francois Lyotard, Dr. Amy Spaulding, Professor Nicolas Negroponte, Alan Kay, and Frank Webster.


Additionally, the effects of the e-portfolio as a media and information manage- ment tool in postmodern society are approached with reference to the writings of Marshall McLuhan, Margot Lovejoy, and Dr. Stephen Covey. I wrote this web design lesson to focus on my specialization and fascination with information studies. However, the thoughts and predictions I offer will be driven by disciplines such as education, humanities, and natural sciences. These disciplines involvement in Web portfolio initiatives within curriculum are a factor in the Web portfolio evolving in professional and academic settings.

The Web Portfolio’s Place in the Information Society

Frank Webster describes the scholarly debate that surrounds the notion of an information society. He explains that information society theorists contend that “technological innovation produces social change” (Webster, 2002, p. 264). On the other side of the debate, of which Webster is a staunch proponent, scholars charge that no information society exists and that information and technology are simply following a path of continuity with historical change.


Webster states this point as: “scholars who, while happy to concede that information has taken on a special significance in the modern era insists that the central feature of the present in its continuities with the past” (2002, p. 6). More importantly, Webster (2002, p. 6) makes the distinction that many scholars occupy various points along the continuum of both constructs. Webster explains that there exist five definitions of an information society.


The definitions are driven by the thought that quantitative changes in information are evoking qualitative changes in society, thus contributing the notion of an information society: technological, economic, occupational, spatial, and cul- tural (Webster, 2002, p.9). I believe that Web portfolios fit into these information society definitions as an instrument that will specifically change occupational information activity. I feel the incre asing trend towards Web portfolios have societal implications that will impact the technology applica- tions, economic distribution, occupational scenarios, spatial arrangements, and cultural manifestations that represent acknowledgments that things are chang- ing historically, but at the same time, society is building exclusive relationships that are going beyond technological advances and post industrialist contribu- tions. The information society is a place that people want to be.


They want be “in” on technologies adaptation of their lives. It may not be simply an upper income person getting the latest cell phone, PDA, or laptop computer to use in their $50,000 Jaguar; maybe it’s a lower income person getting the latest DVD player and navigation system for their $2,000 Chevy Geo. Or, a young person who makes poverty level wages buying a $400 iPod. These examples are not to be misunderstood; having the right technology will be an important part of being part of groups, whether they are social or occupational. Personal perception of what is needed technologically will drive knowledge workers in the new millennium to embrace Web portfolios. Eventually, everyone who is “in” will have one. Without one, it will be difficult to secure work for hire and therefore one may be cut off from the opportunities that the information society deems as most attractive.

The Web Portfolio as Personal, On-Demand, Mass Media and Advertising

Media makes portrays life as more difficult without having the “technological norms” of your culture and environment. Media shapes perception by creating an environment that presents advertising as a primary news gathering process. As McLuhan (1964, p.227) states, “Ads pushed the principle of noise all the way to the plateau of persuasion. They are quite in accord with the procedures of brainwashing”. McLuhan also extends that “ads are news”, especially in the electronic age.


I feel the Web portfolio is considered an ad or advertisement. It is an ad for someone or an organization. The Web portfolio fits McLuhan’s theory that advertisements are news in several aspects. The goal of the Web portfolio is to persuade the user to act favorably, as with ads. The Web portfolio creates an ongoing narrative that provides news of accomplishment and presents a story of perceived importance merely for the fact that it is being delivered in the Web portfolio, as the “user”/reader of a magazine might believe. The Web portfolio is dynamic, such as news. And as with news and the Web portfolio, content becomes the true selling vehicle. The Web portfolio also puts our identity and our public appearance in the social and cyber worl d at risk.


The risk is exposure that is not favorable or that inflates truths about capabilities, history, and accomplishments. Any vehicle of cred- ibility can work conversely to discredit the author. The extent of truth to the personal narrative presented in a Web portfolio is dependent on the morality and perceptions of the creator, as is in the case of any communication whether it is a resume or a corporate financial report. The truth lies in the personal moral compliance of the individual(s) whom created the communication. The Web portfolio will open people up to intrusion, but at the same time will generate opportunity. This is the pattern seen with all emerging technology.


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