A platform is essentially a technologically based structure in which something may be represented. Perhaps the world’s most dominant platform is the internet. The internet provides a means for millions of people all over the world to communicate, interact and also publish material. Within this umbrella that is the internet we find a series of network systems, in what Dodgson refers to as the ‘systems age.’ He argues that in this new digital age we are accustomed to “sensing, collecting, and manipulating data in near real-time with little to no human supervision.”
Social networking sites demonstrate Dodgsons ideology. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter are a continual stream of data, updated every second and stored into archives. They are a platform in which ones personal information or data is made readily available to their own network of friends whether they are interacting with the site or not. Furthermore, through these sites we as a user of the platform are afforded the ability to view other peoples data, interact with it, collate it and aggregate it so that it suits our personal preference. What we ‘like’ on Facebook or who we ‘follow’ on Twitter is stored in our own network for future reference. Therefore social networks provide the platform for us to shape our own network (and we do not neccessarily have to be at a computer to do so).
Naturally one platform may not be compatible with another. For example an Xbox 360 game will not play in a Playstation 3 console. However, technology has evolved to overcome such problems. Welcome the concept of ‘cross-platforming.’ A cross-platform enables an application to run on existing platforms. The best example of cross-platforming can be found in computer systems and the internet. Internet applications are for the most part, accessible across most computing systems. A good example of an internet application performing a multi-platform function is PDF. A PDF file will open on both PC and Mac, as well as other operating systems if required.
Drawing back to a social network perspective the ability of Facebook users to use the hash tag and integrate their twitter posts with their Facebook status’ is another example of a platform evolving from a singular structure into a multi-platform.
In summation, a platform in a technological sense affords people the ability to communicate, interact and publish material. Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter are perfect examples of a platform executing its key function. Where incompatibility occurs, cross-platforming solutions such as a PDF file enable users to perform tasks on a multitude of platforms.
Computing Platforms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Platforms_%28computing%29
Cross Platforms: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-platform
Dodson, Wes (2009) ‘Dawn of the Systems Age’, Page 3.14