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New media

New media is a broad term that emerged in the later part of the 20th century to encompass the amalgamation of traditional media such as film, images, music, spoken and written word, with the interactive power of computer and communications technology, computer-enabled consumer devices and most importantly the Internet. New media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. What distinguishes New media from traditional media is not the digitizing of media content into bits, but the dynamic life of the "new media" content and its interactive relationship with the media consumer. This dynamic life, moves, breathes and flows with pulsing excitement in real time. Another important promise of New Media is the "democratization" of the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content.

Thus, a high-definition digital television broadcast of a film viewed on a digital plasma TV is still an example of traditional media, while an "analog" paper poster of a local rock band that contains a web address where fans can find information and digital music downloads is an example of New media communication.

Wikipedia itself is one of the best examples of the New media phenomenon, combining Internet accessible digital text, images and video with web-links, creative participation of contributors, interactive feedback of users and formation of a participant community of editors and donors.

Most technologies described as "new media" are digital, often having characteristics of being manipulated, networkable, dense, compressible, interactive and impartial.[1] Some examples may be the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, computer games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. New media is not television programs, feature films, magazines, books, or paper-based publications - unless they contain technologies that enable digital interactivity, such as graphic tags containing web-links.[2]

Contents

[edit] History

In the 1960s, connections between computing and radical art began to grow stronger. It was not until the 1980s that Alan Kay and his co-workers at Xerox PARC began to give the power of a personal computer to the individual, rather than have a big organization be in charge of this. "In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, we seem to witness a different kind of parallel relationship between social changes and computer design. Although casually unrelated, conceptually it makes sense that the Cold War and the design of the Web took place at exactly the same time."[3]

Until the 1980s media relied primarily upon print and 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.

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, Callum Rymer and James Bohman that new media, and particularly the Internet, provide 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 achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.

Recent contributions to the field such as Callum Rymer (2009) and his recent presentation on Wikipedia, as well 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.

[edit] What is New Media?

Although there are several ways that New Media may be described, The New Media Reader edited by Wardrip-Fruin and Montfort defines New Media by using eight simple and concise propositions:[4]

  1. New Media versus Cyberculture - Cyberculture is the study of various social phenomena that are associated with the Internet and network communications (blogs, online multi-player gaming), whereas New Media is concerned more with cultural objects and paradigms (digital to analog television, iPhones).
  2. New Media as Computer Technology Used as a Distribution Platform - New Media are the cultural objects which use digital computer technology for distribution and exhibition. e.g. (at least for now) Internet, Web sites, computer multimedia, Blu-ray disks etc. The problem with this is that the definition must be revised every few years. The term "new media" will not be "new" anymore, as most forms of culture will be distributed through computers.
  3. New Media as Digital Data Controlled by Software - The language of New Media is based on the assumption that, in fact, all cultural objects that rely on digital representation and computer-based delivery do share a number of common qualities. New media is reduced to digital data that can be manipulated by software as any other data. Now media operations can create several versions of the same object. An example is an image stored as matrix data which can be manipulated and altered according to the additional algorithms implemented, such as color inversion, gray-scaling, sharpening, rasterizing, etc.
  4. New Media as the Mix Between Existing Cultural Conventions and the Conventions of Software - "New Media today can be understood as the mix between older cultural conventions for data representation, access, and manipulation and newer conventions of data representation, access, and manipulation. The "old" data are representations of visual reality and human experience, and the "new" data is numerical data. The computer is kept out of the key "creative" decisions, and is delegated to the position of a technician." e.g. In film, software is used in some areas of production, in others are created using computer animation.
  5. New Media as the Aesthetics that Accompanies the Early Stage of Every New Modern Media and Communication Technology - "While ideological tropes indeed seem to be reappearing rather regularly, many aesthetic strategies may reappear two or three times...In order for this approach to be truly useful it would be insufficient to simple name the strategies and tropes and to record the moments of their appearance; instead, we would have to develop a much more comprehensive analysis which would correlate the history of technology with social, political, and economical histories or the modern period."
  6. New Media as Faster Execution of Algorithms Previously Executed Manually or through Other Technologies - Computers are a huge speed-up of what were previously manual techniques. e.g. calculators. "Dramatically speeding up the execution makes possible previously non-existent representational technique." This also makes possible of many new forms of media art such as interactive multimedia and computer games. "On one level, a modern digital computer is just a faster calculator, we should not ignore its other identity: that of a cybernetic control device."
  7. New Media as the Encoding of Modernist Avant-Garde; New Media as Metamedia - Manovich declares that the 1920s are more relevant to New Media than any other time period. Meta-media coincides with postmodernism in that they both rework old work rather than create new work. New media avant-garde "is about new ways of accessing and manipulating information" (e.g. hypermedia, databases, search engines, etc.). Meta-media is an example of how quantity can change into quality as in new media technology and manipulation techniques can "recode modernist aesthetics into a very different postmodern aesthetics."
  8. New Media as Parallel Articulation of Similar Ideas in Post-WWII Art and Modern Computing - Post WWII Art or "combinatorics" involves creating images by systematically changing a single parameter. This leads to the creation or remarkably similar images and spatial structures. "This illustrates that algorithms, this essential part of new media, do not depend on technology, but can be executed by humans."

[edit] Globalization and new media

The rise of new media has increased communication between people all over the world and the Internet. It has allowed people to express themselves through blogs, websites, pictures, and other user-generated media.

Flew (2002) stated that as a result of the evolution of new media technologies, globalization occurs. Globalization is generally stated as "more than expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states".[5] Globalization 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).[6]

"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 globalization, arguments involving technological determinism are generally frowned upon by mainstream media studies.[7][8][9] 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[10] espouse a 'soft determinism'[11] 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 development, which recalls the theses of Marshall McLuhan.[12][13]

Manovich[14] and Castells[10] 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 globalized society whereby 'every citizen can construct her own custom lifestyle and select her ideology 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).

[edit] 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.[15] 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.[16] 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.[17] 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.[18] 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."[19] 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.[20] 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.[21] Others are skeptical about how democratic or useful it really is for social movements, even for those with access.[22] 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 widespread 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.

[edit] National Security

New Media has also recently become of interest to the global espionage community as it is easily accessible electronically in database format and can therefore be quickly retrieved and reverse engineered by national governments. Particularly of interest to the espionage community are Facebook and Twitter, two sites where individuals freely divulge personal information that can then be sifted through and archived for the automatic creation of dossiers on both people of interest and the average citizen.[23]

[edit] Interactivity and new media

Interactivity has become a 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.[24] 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.[25] 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[26] (2002) 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 Individuation Media or “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 its 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. In the mid 1990s, filmmakers started using inexpensive digital cameras to create films. It was also the time when moving image technology had developed, which was able to be viewed on computer desktops in full motion. This development of new media technology was a new method for artists to share their work and interact with the big world. Other settings of interactivity include radio and television talk shows, letters to the editor, listener participation in such programs, and computer and technological programming.[27] Interactive new media has become a true benefit to every one because people can express their artwork in more than one way with the technology that we have today and there is no longer a limit to what we can do with our creativity.

Interactivity can be considered as a central concept in understanding new media, but different media forms possess different degree of interactivity,[28] even some forms of digitized and converged media are not in fact interactive at all. Tony Feldman[29] 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, The Sims Online and Second Life. 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".[30] New media have created virtual realities that are becoming mere extensions of the world we live in. With the creation of Second Life people have even more control over this virtual world where anything that a participant can think of in their mind can become a reality in Second Life.[31]

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.

[edit] The industry

The new media industry shares an open 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.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Flew, 2008
  2. ^ Manovich, Lev. "New Media From Borges to HTML." The New Media Reader. Ed. Noah Wardrip-Fruin & Nick Montfort. Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2003. 13-25.
  3. ^ Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort, ed (2003). The New Media Reader. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-23227-8.
  4. ^ Wardrip-Fruin, Noah and Nick Montfort, ed (2003). The New Media Reader. pp.16-23. The MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-23227-8.
  5. ^ Thompson, John B. (1995). The Media and Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press, pg. 150
  6. ^ Volkmer, Ingrid (1999) News in the Global Sphere. A Study of CNN and its impact on Global Communication, Luton: University of Luton Press.
  7. ^ Williams, Raymond (1974) 'Television: Technology and Cultural Form, London, Routledge
  8. ^ Durham, M & Kellner, Douglas (2001) Media and Cultural Studies Keyworks, Malden, Ma and Oxford, UK, Blackwell Publishing
  9. ^ Lister, Martin, Dovey, Jon, Giddings, Seth. Grant, Iain. & Kelly, Kieran (2003) "New Media: A Critical Introduction", London, Routledge
  10. ^ a b Castells, Manuel, (1996) Rise of the Network Society, The Information Age: Economy, Society and Culture volume 1, Massachusetts, Blackwell Publishing
  11. ^ Lister, Martin, Dovey, Jon, Giddins, Seth. Grant, Iain. & Kelly, Kieran (2003) New Media: A Critical Introduction, London, Routledge
  12. ^ McLuhan, Marshall (1962) The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, London, Routledge and Kegan Paul
  13. ^ McLuhan, Marshall (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Toronto, McGraw Hill
  14. ^ Manovich, Lev (2001) 'The Language of New Media' MIT Press, Cambridge and London
  15. ^ Atton, Chris "Reshaping Social Movement Media for a New Millennium." Social Movement Studies, 2, (2003)
  16. ^ Ibid.
  17. ^ Reed, TV, "Will the Revolution be Cybercast?"
  18. ^ Kellner, Douglas, "New Technologies, TechnoCities, and the Prospects for Democratization"
  19. ^ Preston, Paschal "Reshaping Communications: Technology, Information and Social Change," London:Sage, 2001
  20. ^ Kellner, Douglas, "Globalization and Technopolitics"
  21. ^ Wasserman, Herman, "Is a New Worldwide Web Possible? An Explorative Comparison of the Use of ICTs by Two South African Social Movements," African Studies Review, Volume 50, Number 1 (April 2007), pp. 109–131
  22. ^ Marmura, Stephen, "A net advantage? The Internet, grassroots activism and American Middle-Eastern Policy," New Media Society 2008; 10; 247
  23. ^ http://www.wikileaks.orghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mind_Your_Tweets:_The_CIA_Social_Networking_Surveillance_System
  24. ^ Schorr,A & Schenk,M & Campbell,W (2003),Communication Research and Media Science in Europe, Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pg. 57
  25. ^ Croteau, David & Hoynes, William (2003) Media Society: Industries, Images and Audiences (third edition), Pine Forge Press, Thousand Oaks, pg. 303
  26. ^ [1] Crosbie, V. (2002). What is New Media? Retrieved from http://www.sociology.org.uk/as4mm3a.doc
  27. ^ Rafaeli, Sheizaf (1988). "Interactivity: From new media to communication”. Beverly Hills, CA. Pg. 110.
  28. ^ Flew, Terry (2002), New Media: An Introduction, Oxford University Press, UK, pg. 13
  29. ^ Feldman, Tony (1997) An Introduction to Digital Media, Routledege, London
  30. ^ The Sun Newspaper Online
  31. ^ http://secondlife.com/whatis/#Be_Creative
  • Orgad, Shani. (November 2006). This Box Was Made For Walking. Nokia, 21.

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