New media is a generic term that is used for the various forms of electronic communication made possible through computer technology. The term new media or digital media contrasts with “old media” which stands for  paper-based publications  like newspapers magazines and books, feature films, radio etc.  These come under the umbrella of new media only if they use technologies that enable digital interactivity.

Until the 1980s media relied on print and analog broadcast models such as those of television and radio. Since then  media started  using digital technologies, such as the Internet and video games. Computer technology has transformed ‘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 use of technologies such as desktop publishing tools and image manipulation software like Adobe Photoshop.

Most technologies described as “new media” are digital such as the Internet, websites, computer multimedia, video games, CD-ROMS, and DVDs. New media also includes audio and video streaming, e-mail, online communities, blogs, web advertising, mobile computing, Internet telephony (integration of digital data) with the telephone, such as, digital cameras, interactive kiosks, interactive television, podcasts.

As  a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications, new media blurs the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication. Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is an example of new media (combines 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). Facebook is an example of the social media model.

Advantages: New Media: 1)Provides opportunities for interactive communication. 2)Allows for a huge increase in the volume of communication. 3)Provides the possibility of increasing the speed of communication. 4)Alters the meaning of geographic distance. 5)Allows previously separate forms of communication to overlap and interconnect.

New media facilitates on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device. It allows interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. It involves real-time generation of new, unregulated content. It has “democratized” the creation, publishing, distribution and consumption of media content.

New media and Globalization: Globalization involves the expansion of activities beyond the boundaries of particular nation states. The rise of new media has shortened distance (“death of distance”) and 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.

Virtual communities” established online transcend geographical boundaries, eliminating social restrictions. People in virtual communities use words on screens to exchange pleasantries, argue, engage in intellectual discourse, conduct commerce, make plans, brainstorm, feud, fall in love, gossip, create a little high art and a lot of idle talk.  New media has the ability to connect like-minded others worldwide.

New Media is of value to the global espionage community as it allows easy accessibility.  Facebook and Twitter, two sites where individuals freely divulge personal information are of particular interest to the espionage community. They are sifted through and archived for the automatic creation of dossiers on both people of interest and the average citizen.

Interactivity and new media: Interactivity has become a term for a number of new media options that have resulted from the rapid spread of Internet access points, the digitalization of media, and media convergence. New media enables user-to-user interaction and also interactivity between user and information. Thus, the “one-to-many” model of traditional mass communication is replaced with  “many-to-many” web of communication. Any individual with the appropriate technology can now produce online media and include images, text, and sound.  Thus the convergence of new methods of communication with new technologies changes the very  concept of  mass communication. As Vin Crosbie (2002) said, Interpersonal media is “one to one”, Mass media is “one to many”, and New Media is Individuation Media or “many to many”.

In the mid 1990s, filmmakers began to use inexpensive digital cameras to create films. Moving image technology enabled viewing films in full motion on computer desktops. Other instances of interactivity include radio and television talk shows, letters to the editor, listener participation in such programs, and computer and technological programming.

Different media forms possess different degrees of interactivity, and some forms of digitized and converged media are not in fact interactive at all. Digital satellite television, for instance, is an example of a new media technology that lacks a fully interactive dimension from the user’s point of view.

The global interactive games industry is large and growing. Interactivity is prominent in online games  which allow for users to establish relationships and have an experience that transcends traditional temporal and spatial boundaries when gamers logging in from different parts of the world interact. New media have created virtual realities that are becoming virtual extensions of the world we live in.

Industry and New media: In areas such as software/video games, television, radio and movies, advertising and marketing, industry gains from the advantages of two-way dialogue with consumers primarily through the Internet. The Television Industry has used New Media and the Internet to expand their resources for new programming and content. The advertising industry has also capitalized on the proliferation of new media running multi-million dollar interactive advertising subsidiaries. Interactive websites and kiosks have become popular. Public relations firms are also taking advantage of the opportunities in new media through interactive PR practices. Interactive PR practices include the use of social media to reach a mass audience of online social network users.

Youth and New media: With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically. 8-18 year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day to using entertainment media and  much of that time is spent ‘media multitasking’ (using more than one medium at a time).

Disadvantages: News spreads fast on the Internet at an uncontrollable rate. Hence once it is on the Internet it is difficult to get it off.  Privacy gets compromised on the Internet with identity theft, stalking etc on the rise. Information posted online gets stolen. Time spent on social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter etc takes time away from our interaction with our fellows.  Cyber bullying of children and people leading to depression is also a serious problem.

Old media/ new media:

The “old media” are newspapers & magazines, direct mail advertising, and radio & television.  All are based on a number of assumptions:

  • There are only a limited number of “players” in the market. The market entry cost is high.  In some areas (TV & radio) there is a “natural” limit on the number of players.
  • Along with this, Old Media are geographically limited. Radio and TV stations can only broadcast so far.  International mail is slow, expensive and often not reliable.
  • Communications are strictly one way. The content provider sends information to the consumer and the consumer sends money to the provider.  There is no mechanism for a flow of either information or money in the opposite direction.  The consumer is strictly passive.
  • Providers have detailed and exact control of what the consumer sees or hears.
  • Presentation is more important than content. Content and presentation cannot be separated. “The medium is the message”.

The New Media or the World Wide Web subverts “old media” assumptions:

  • The number of players is unlimited. Entry cost is no more than a computer, a modem, and an Internet connection.  A website – the “new media” equivalent of a printing press – is essentially free. There are no “natural” limits to the number of players.
  • No place in the world is appreciably further away then any other place. National and regional boundaries are simply not relevant on the Web.
  • Communication is inherently two- way. The consumer is active.
  • Providers not only do not, they can not control exactly what the consumer sees.
  • Content is more important than presentation. Content and presentation are separate.  The medium is provided by the viewer; the message is provided by the creator.



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