Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Media

Read the New Media report by the University of Tornoto

New Media: Digital, networked communication

global reach

In 1964, Marshall McLuhan wrote in Understanding Media: "Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned." McLuhan's global village was networked communication giving us all increased transparency and accountability to one another.

Just like mass media, new media comes to you but it also gives you the ability to respond and reach outward to global sources.

New media includes both devices and programs that are increasingly dominating our space and time. The chart below separates new media by device and location.

This chart address new media social networking platforms, followed by a chart that identifies the ways in which they work.

Social networking sites that require registration indicate the numbers of regular users. Facebook is estimated at 300 million users. Skype states that is has 425 million registered users.

Tuenti is a Madrid based, invitation only Spanish language social network. The name means “your entity." It is the third fastest rising Google search item. It was founded in 2006 by Zaryn Dentzel from Santa Barbara who came to Spain as an exchange student. It only has 5 million users is considered to be growing faster than any other social network site. It offers users integrated access to other networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

In a recent lecture at the “The Machine is (Changing) Us : You Tube and the Politics of Authenticity," Michael Wesch explains the advantages and disadvantages developing with new media interactions:
new ways of relating to others
•new ways of knowing ourselves
narcissistic interest
instant desires combined with disenchantment
•contained media-think

Welsch explains that rather than authentically communicating with one another, we are interacting with machines. This comic segment below from E! shows celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe speaking via cell phone to people in the same room.

Not only are we decreasing in authentic communication with one another, we are increasing in self-interest. Websites, Facebook, Blogs and Twitter are used for self-promotion and can generate a false sense of self-importance and a shallow, quick byte understanding of others.

We are now willingly, publicly revealing ourselves with new media. The idea of continually exposing our innermost thoughts is socially unprecedented. Wim Wender's film Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire, 1987) from just 2 decades ago, featured a famous subway scene in which only an angel could hear what people were really thinking.

Now on Twitter, anyone can have a window into anyone else's soul. For example, Douglas Coupland, author of Generation X, comments on a feeling of not feeling, while days before he was laughing at flamethrowers on YouTube. Twitter commentary varies from blatant self promotion, as with astronaut Buzz Aldrin, to corporate promotion like the NYTimes (which has gift ideas for the inner child with everything). Even a dog's owner has decided to post for him. Some people consider new media a type of democratization. However with only 1.6 billion people regularly using the internet, 5 million are disconnected. There is also the question if using new media can break through existing social barriers. While it is true that many small voices have received recognition, the most followed Tweets and blogs are those that belong to celebrities and corporations.

New media rules: We are witnessing a fast moving era of social communication that has no established rules. Margaret Mason created her book, "No One Cares What You Had for Lunch," to provide an Emily Post meets Dale Carnegie self-help for bloggers and their style of communication.

New media content: The question of content is the relevance and social influence of what is expressed with new media. The Pew Research Center for Excellence in Journalism has created a New Media Index that follows content. They closely analyzed the content of blogs versus mainstream media during the first week of Obama in office and found that blogs gave more subjective responses to the inaugaration while mainstream media focused on the economy. Pikanews is a similar European website for surveying old and new media. It allows users to enter topics and scan both journalism and blogs and other content.

New media authorities: Because new media is largely independent, subjective and unlimited, the result is anyone can be an authority of anything. The "new media tastemakers" include teenage girls influencing the fashion industry to shared sites that give popularity ratings through voting.

New media and business as usual: In response to consumer independence and tastemaking websites, businesses are utilizing new media strategically. Below is one model that suggests businesses integrate all new media, from putting staff on hourly Twitter updates to connecting their Facebook, blog, website and email newsletters.

In 1984, Billy Idol appeared in an MTV commercial stating, "Too Much is Never Enough." We can ask that of unlimited digitized new media, what is the limit? Will people ever want less options or limited means of communicating?

New media and television: Pappathanassopoulos describes that television and the internet are converging into screen culture. TV websites began as auxiliary and are slowly providing the same thing as the internet. TV websites are an advantage to channels because they add archiving and a more global audience.

Many European media platforms began offering interactivity in the 1990’s and like the US, the EU will cease analog. The author concludes by suggesting that “The European viewer has gone from being a silent citizen to a valuable consumer." A valued consumer is still anonymous however. Part of new media is not only having options but gaining an individual voice and influence, which of course is also a question for politics.

New media and politics: Alec Charles discussed the E-state of Estonia in "New Media, New Europe: Estonia’s E-mediated State."

Charles states, “Technology becomes a tool to reinforce existing power structures.” Educational and class differences in voting are increased in e-elections. Estonia is a country that went directly from isolation into pc banking and e-government. While it was rated favorably for economic and media growth, only 50% of citizens access the internet. In 2007, they held the first ever full scale internet election from homes or access points, with results favoring the preference of the educated. The election created questions of a new Europe and new world that would be driven by new media.

Estonia was considered an old world Russian-Nordic fishing community. Since its independence it has joined Eurovision and generated new media like Skype. The e-election showed photos like the one above, with seniors demonstrating card readers and e-voting publicly. By contrast, computerless peasants like those featured below, dominate Estonia outside of Tallin.

New media Vs. the old world: Conversational cafe society, historic political conflicts, traditional ways of doing things and old machinery, are just some of the European aspects surrounding new media. The more that governments go electronic and corporations do e-business, the less we interact with power directly. In order to truly achieve egalitarian social participation with new media, it must be expanded to include as many people as possible all along the way, for the best of all possible solutions.

Solio: Bringing solar power to the people!
Solio is a company that has created global chargers for new media devices. Only one hour of sunshine gives 20 hours of Ipod use! For every Solio charger that is purchased a Solio charger is provided to a family in global poverty who may be living with little or no electricity.

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