New media

New media

New media is a term meant to encompass the emergence of digital, computerized, or networked information and communication technologies in the later part of the 20th century.

Most technologies described as "new media" are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulable, networkable, dense, compressible, and impartial.

Concept and definitions

Until the 1980s media relied primarily upon print and art analog broadcast models, such as those of television and radio. The last twenty-five years have seen the rapid transformation into media which are predicated upon the use of digital computers, such as the Internet and computer games. However, these examples are only a small representation of new media. The use of digital computers has transformed the remaining 'old' media, as suggested by the advent of digital television and online publications. Even traditional media forms such as the printing press have been transformed through the application of technologies such as image manipulation software like Adobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools.

The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) defines new media as, “Any digital media production that is interactive and digitally distributed.” They make the distinction between “new” media and media on the basis of it’s accessibility and transmission and its interactive nature, which will be the most defining feature for future new media development. They also suggest there is an increase in use of internet, and an emphasis of integration of text, pictures, sound and video. Pierre Lévy argues in his book "L'idéographie dynamique" that this integration of different mediums of thought representation has created the new language of dynamic ideography; an interactive, kinetic, computer-facilitated and memory-capable language employed in New Media .

While the term New Media is disputed - the technologies involved are now up to 25 years old, and therefore not new in the sense of recent innovations - Manovich has argued forcefully against the alternative term digital media in The Language of New Media (2001). Manovich contends that a digital process is one which is based on sampling a continuous (analog) one from the real world in order to re-present it. While computer based media fit into this description, as data is converted into binary code, so too does cinema - which functions by sampling time into a series of discrete images which are then played in rapid succession. Consequently, the term digital media signifies too broad a range of technologies for Manovich to consider it to be of any value within academic discourse.

Andrew L. Shapiro (1999) argues that the "emergence of new, digital technologies signals "a potentially radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources" (Shapiro cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). W. Russell Neuman (1991) suggests that whilst the "new media" have technical capabilities to pull in one direction, economic and social forces pull back in the opposite direction. According to Neuman, "We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication" (Neuman cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). Neuman argues that New Media:

  • Will alter the meaning of geographic distance.
  • Allow for a huge increase in the volume of communication.
  • Provide the possibility of increasing the speed of communication.
  • Provide opportunities for interactive communication.
  • Allow forms of communication that were previously separate to overlap and interconnect.

Consequently it has been the contention of scholars such as Douglas Kellner and James Bohman that new media, and particularly the Internet, provides the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures. Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are scholars such as Ed Herman and Robert McChesney who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who own the majority achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.

Recent contributions to the field such as Lister et al (2003) and Friedman (2005) have highlighted both the positive and negative potential and actual implications of new media technologies, suggesting that some of the early work into new media studies was guilty of technological determinism - whereby the effects of media were determined by the technology themselves, rather than through tracing the complex social networks which governed the development, funding, implementation and future development of any technology.

To define new media is impossible since it is always changing. New media can not be defined because of the constant changing in technology. What ever is new today is old tomorrow. And trying to define the limits of change is a futile effort since it’s nature is change.

Globalisation and new media

Flew (2002) stated that as a result of the evolution of new media technologies, globalisation occurs. Globalisation is generally stated as "more than expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states". Globalisation shortens the distance between people all over the world by the electronic communication (Carely 1992 in Flew 2002) and Cairncross (1998) expresses this great development as the "death of distance". New media "radically break the connection between physical place and social place, making physical location much less significant for our social relationships" (Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 311).

However, the changes in the new media environment create a series of tensions in the concept of “ public sphere”. According to Ingrid Volkmer, “ public sphere” is defined as a process through which public communication becomes restructured and partly disembedded from national political and cultural institutions. This trend of the globalized public sphere is not only as a geographical expansion form a nation to worldwide, but also changes the relationship between the public, the media and state (Volkmer, 1999:123).

"Virtual communities" are being established online and transcend geographical boundaries, eliminating social restrictions. Howard Rheingold (2000) describes these globalised societies as self-defined networks, which resemble what we do in real life. "People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries and argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, gossip, feud, fall in love, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk" (Rheingold cited in Slevin 2000: 91). For Sherry Turkle "making the computer into a second self, finding a soul in the machine, can substitute for human relationships" (Holmes 2005: 184). New media has the ability to connect like-minded others worldwide.

While this perspective suggests that the technology drives - and therefore is a determining factor - in the process of globalisation, arguments involving technological determinism are generally frowned upon by mainstream media studies. Instead academics focus on the multiplicity of processes by which technology is funded, researched and produced, forming a feedback loop when the technologies are used and often transformed by their users, which then feeds into the process of guiding their future development.

While commentators such as Castells espouse a 'soft determinism' whereby they contend that 'Technology does not determine society. Nor does society script the course of technological change, since many factors, including individual inventiveness and entrpreneurialism, intervene in the process of scientific discovery, technical innovation and social applications, so the final outcome depends on a complex pattern of interaction. Indeed the dilemma of technological determinism is probably a false problem, since technology is society and society cannot be understood without its technological tools.' (Castells 1996:5) This however is still distinct from stating that societal changes are instigated by technological develoment, which recalls the theses of Marshall McLuhan

Manovich and Castells have argued that whereas mass media 'corresponded to the logic of industrial mass society, which values conformity over individuality,' (Manovich 2001:41) new media follows the logic of the postindustrial or globalised society whereby 'every citizen can construct her own custom lifestyle and select her idology from a large number of choices. Rather than pushing the same objects to a mass audience, marketing now tries to target each individual separately.' (Manovich 2001:42).

New media as a tool for social change

Social Movement Media has a rich and storied history that has changed at a rapid rate since New Media became widely used. The Zapatista Army of National Liberation of Chiapas, Mexico were the first major movement to make widely recognized and effective use of New Media for communiques and organizing in 1994. Since then, New Media has been used extensively by social movements to educate, organize, share cultural products of movements, communicate, coalition build, and more. The WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 protest activity was another landmark in the use of New Media as a tool for social change. The WTO protests used media to organize the original action, communicate with and educate participants, and was used an alternative media source. The Indymedia movement also developed out of this action, and has been a great tool in the democratization of information, which is another widely discussed aspect of new media movement. Some scholars even view this democratization as an indication of the creation of a "radical, socio-technical paradigm to challenge the dominant, neoliberal and technologically determinist model of information and communication technologies. A less radical view along these same lines is that people are taking advantage of the internet to produce a grassroots globalization, one that is anti-neoliberal and centered on people rather than the flow of capital. Of course, some are also skeptical of the role of New Media in Social Movements. Many scholars point out unequal access to new media as a hindrance to broad-based movements, sometimes even oppressing some within a movement. Others are skeptical about how democratic or useful it really is for social movements, even for those with access. There are also many New Media components that activists cite as tools for change that have not been widely discussed as such by academics.

New Media has also found a use with less radical social movements such as the Free Hugs Campaign. Using websites, blogs, and online videos to demonstrate the effectiveness of the movement itself. Along with this example the use of high volume blogs has allowed numerous views and practices to be more wide-spread and gain more public attention. Another example is the on-going Free Tibet Campaign, which has been seen on numerous websites as well as having a slight tie-in with the band Gorillaz in their Gorillaz Bitez clip featuring the lead singer 2D sitting with protesters at a Free Tibet protest. Another social change seen coming from New Media is trends in fashion and the emergence of subcultures such as Text Speak, Cyberpunk, and various others.

National security

Security concerns over new media have increased due to the growing number of cybercrimes. Adam Lockyer, an analyst for The Terrorism Intelligence Centre, states that ‘insurgent terrorist organizations use the media as a conduit for their political message to be heard by the target audience’ (Lockyer, Adam 2003). However, television is no longer the only means for building mainstream attitudes. Professor Marc Lynch, Ph.D., Cornell University and associate professor at George Washington University, predicts that user generated websites such as Youtube.com and Facebook.com will play a big role in the recruitment within the mainstream masses as well as the broadcasting of terrorist ideologies (Lynch, Marc 2007). By now, nearly every federal agency within the U.S. government has some department or division responsible for computer security. National security experts reach out to computer hackers and train internal operatives in the field of computer security with the need to intercept and interpret digital communications. Some of these methods go against the intend of new media and contribute to the debate about net neutrality.

Interactivity and new media

Interactivity has become a key term for number of new media use options evolving from the rapid dissemination of Internet access point, the digitalization of the media, and media convergence. In 1984, Rice defined the new media as communication technologies that enable or facilitate user-to-user interactivity and interactivity between user and information. Such as Internet replaces the "one-to-many" model of traditional mass communication with the possibility of a "many-to-many" web of communication. Any individual with the appropriate technology can now produce his or her online media and include images, text, and sound about whatever he or she chooses. So the new media with technology convergence shifts the model of mass communication, and radically shapes the ways we interact and communicate with one another. Vin Crosbie described three communications media in “What is new media?”. He saw Interpersonal media as “one to one”, Mass media as “one to many” and, finally New Media as “many to many”.

When we think of interactivity and its meaning, we assume that it is only prominent in the conversational dynamics of individuals who are face-to-face. This restriction of opinion does not allow us to see it's existence in mediated communication forums. Interactivity is present in some programming work, such as video games. It's also viable in the operation of traditional media. Other settings of interactivity include radio and television talk shows, letters to the editor, listener participation in such programs, and computer and technological programming.

Interactivity can be considered as a central concept in understanding new media, but different media forms possess different degree of interactivity , even some forms of digitized and converged media are not in fact interactive at all. Tony Feldman considers digital satellite television as an example of a new media technology that uses digital compression to dramatically increase the number of television channels that can be delivered, and which changes the nature of what can be offered through the service, but does not transform the experience of television from the user’s point of view, as it lacks a more fully interactive dimension. It remains the case that interactivity is not an inherent characteristic of all new media technologies, unlike digitization and convergence.

Terry Flew (2005) argues that "the global interactive games industry is large and growing, and is at the forefront of many of the most significant innovations in new media" (Flew 2005: 101). Interactivity is prominent in these online computer games such as World of Warcraft and The Sims. These games, developments of "new media", allow for users to establish relationships and experience a sense of belonging, despite temporal and spatial boundaries. These games can be used as an escape or to act out a desired life. Will Wright, creator of The Sims, "is fascinated by the way gamers have become so attached to his invention-with some even living their lives through it" . New media have created virtual realities that are becoming mere extensions of the world we live in.

New Media changes continuously due to the fact that it is constantly modified and redefined by the interaction between the creative use of the masses, emerging technology, cultural changes, etc.

The industry

The new media industry shares a close association with many market segments in areas such as software/video game design, television, radio, and particularly movies, advertising and marketing, which seeks to gain from the advantages of two-way dialogue with consumers primarily through the internet. The advertising industry has capitalized on the proliferation of new media with large agencies running multi-million dollar interactive advertising subsidiaries. Interactive websites and kiosks have become popular. In a number of cases advertising agencies have also set up new divisions to study new media. Public relations firms are taking advantage of the opportunities in new media through interactive PR practices.

See also

References

  • Orgad, Shani. (November 2006). This Box Was Made For Walking. Nokia, 21.

Further reading

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