What is New Media?

Utilizing an analytical lens through which to answer this existential question brings structure to the seemingly vague nature of the question.

To call something “New” is to infer that there was once an older version of said “new” product. There are many other words synonymous with old; legacy, past, previous, prior, ancient. Okay, maybe ancient is taking the concept a bit far; but you catch my drift.

“Media” is a little more difficult to place within a definitive “container,” a term my New Media professor Dr. Lucas likes to use.

Media refers to a collection of mediums or platforms which are uniquely tailored to serve a function predetermined by their respective communities. Prior to the 1960's and invention of ARPANET; Painters used a canvas, writers a notepad, disk jockeys a studio-bound microphone and politicians a public speech as their mediums. These mediums were utilized to convey a message to others in society, functioning as a channel of communication. These artists, yes even the politicians; would carefully craft their message with paint brushes, hours spent in dictionaries, voice lessons or practicing speaking in order to achieve the maximum effect upon their intended audiences.

This was the past, you’ll notice I mentioned ARPANAET. Once the Internet became a reality, all of these artists were given the opportunity to participate in a new revolution. This revolution IS NEW MEDIA. The ability to utilize all the traditional tools of your artistry and then transfer your art digitally to an even larger audience than was ever thought to be possible is REVOLUTIONARY!

New Media as a concept can seem daunting, vague and all encompassing when viewed from a macro perspective. Despite this, New Media is nothing more than the advancement of artistry by supplementing preexisting mediums; with the Internet. One is not replacing the other, the old and new merely are enjoying their afternoon tea. This tea is flavored with an aroma composed of the enjoyment of the masses. What was once reserved for the few, now belongs to the many. Enlightenment 2.0 would be a much more appropriate term for this revolution than “New Media.”

If New Media is revolutionary due to its’ power to reach more people in an expedited manner there are profound questions which accompany that assertion.

  • Is the content which once was subject to a meticulous process superior to the new instant presentation of content which occurs today?
  • Who are the new gatekeepers of media and why are they in that position?
  • Are we barely realizing the full potential of New Media, or has it already run its’ course?
  • What are the masses doing with the information and messages dispensed through New Media?

I will elaborate further in a four part series “Questions about New Media” about the totality from the implications of these questions. With the future in mind it is still worth providing a brief answer to each question.

  1. Your opinion of the gate-keeping function of research and academia as well as other scholarly institutions determines how valid their system is. If an amateur expert had access to the knowledge and means of production in the past, would they have produced quality work?
  2. The Gatekeepers are now mega multinational conglomerations: Newscorp, Turner Broadcasting, Disney being three of the major ones. New Media has allowed: Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat and Tumblr the ability to function as “Web Gatekeepers.”
  3. With all of the advances in technology daily; i.e. Tesla’s Self Driving Car, Apple’s Airpods and Twitter’s live-streaming of the 2017 U.S. Presidential Inauguration it is clear we are only on the tip of the iceberg. This does not however mean that the negatives: Fake News, Cyber Security Issues, Cyber-Bullying; could possibly destroy all of this progress.
  4. 46% of Americans receive their daily news from Facebook. Facebook now has more active accounts (Over 2 Billion) than there are people who have access to Internet (only 40% of the World’s population) People are using New Media technologies actively to post selfies and learn about the world around them, while also passively accepting whatever information is espoused to their eyeballs.
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