A question for you, What’s ‘new’ about new media?

That’s an honest question. Whatsnewmedia is looking for your take on this basic, but elusive question. So..what’s new about it, what’s fund-a-mentally new about all this?



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17 responses to “A question for you, What’s ‘new’ about new media?

  1. I see a couple of differences between New Media (that collection of network-based, computer chip-enabled electronic communication tools) and traditional media (radio, television, newspapers, magazines, etc.).

    The first is that communication is no longer one way. Sure, we had letters to the editor and you could have your own public access television show, but for the average media consumer, there was no real chance of being heard before New Media. That’s definitely new for most of us.

    Secondly, the time compression is phenomenal. When I was editing magazines, we’d spend a month doing the work it takes to put out the publication and then wait two weeks for printing and shipping before anyone could even read our work. When we were lucky, some comments would find their way back to our desks. Today, you post, you get hit. That fast. Sweet. That’s new.

    I’m sure there are other differences, but being able to be heard quickly by people who are communicating with you is what sets New Media apart for me.

  2. I think truly crucial is the combination of (a) universal access to simple publishing tools (meaming anyone can ‘publish’ content) and (b) powerful social bookmarking and aggregation services (meaning that anyone may be heard if they publish smth of interest, value etc.)

  3. Native1

    If your wondering where new media trends are going, the answer lies within the internet and our cultures desire for fresh entertainment! Networking and video-sharing websites are the biggest thing happening within the web. These internet phenomenons have bet set-up to target consumer groups such as students and other young adults. Networking website like Myspace and Facebook have caught people’s attention day after day. From custom options to user programmed applications, these profile sites are where the audiance gather and share interesting entertainment, the latest trends, jokes, and other media. The online society can also be broken into societal groups to be successfully targeted by advertisements and subjects of interest. Another place to look for present and future media is the massive realm of massive online multiplayer games. These RPG’s have caught the attention of millions of gamers who wish to join in virtual experiences. As this generation of gaming develops, i believe people will be consumed by the media presented in these online worlds. Companies can buy space in these interactive worlds and post advertisements. In Second Life, you can go to virtual stores and make purchases online!

  4. dpandkp

    I personally do not think there is much of anything new about what a lot of people consider new media. To me, new is a term used to describe something that hasn’t been conceived that comes into existence all of a sudden.

    These days, “new” media or “new” technology means small steps forward. For example, Native1 mentioned online RPGs. This isn’t a “new” media or medium, it has been around for quite awhile, but the presentation element is slightly different, and in the case of RPGs I do mean slight, while most other aspects of that genre of game are the same. In this respect media isn’t changing but the candy coated “presentation” layer certainly is. If you put an apple in a box and write Contents: Super Apple on the outside packaging, this may make you question what is inside or for some people, even believe that the apple is in fact, Super. However at the core of the concept, it is still just an apple in a box.

    In my opinion and also in line with other conversations that I have had in other classes and have read about in books, is that game designers are becoming more aware of the human connection and overall need to complete certain objectives. This is exactly why games like World Of Warcraft work. The book title escapes me, but an entire book was written on this subject (the desire to complete) about humans.

    This obviously isn’t the only aspect of new media but merely an example. I once had a professor of mine tell me years ago that all of the stories, all of the movies, all of the games that could possibly be written have already been written and that only slight modifications can be made. There are no new ideas, there are only updates of ideas that may be presented in a more appealing or more modern fashion.

    Here is another example. The marketing behind second life would have you believe that it is the BEST thing to ever hit the interwebz. Truth is, only a tiny tiny amount of people play that game in comparison to say, World Of Warcraft, or people that actively log into FaceBook on the average day. As far as I’m concerned, Second life is an updated MUD with a visual appearance that more or less requires you to pay to really “play” the game. This isn’t a new thing, it is an evolved idea. It also seems that elements of this new medium are backfiring. In Japan and other parts of the world if you connect to Second Life, there isn’t anyone playing. Obviously I don’t live in Japan, so Im taking articles written about the subject as my proof on the matter.

    Here is one link on the issue. http://www.mutantfrog.com/2007/12/17/second-life-in-japan-depopulating-j-cast/

    Interestingly enough, lots of companies have had ideas about what to make as far as online community games based upon what Second Life has done, but in many views, has done wrong. Now I ask myself, was Second Life new media? Will the updated spawns of Second Life be new media? I personally don’t think so, or for that matter, care. All of my friends, myself included, don’t care if we never once step foot in Second Life. I personally think it’s pretty silly. In the lifespan of computer technology and advancements in the field I would dare say Second Life is aging if not already in its’ senior stages.

    But this again is my opinion of what comprises new media or better said, what doesn’t comprise new media. What most people call new media I call updated media.

    To provide a counter example, if a company were to release technology tomorrow that would bring things seen in movies like “The Fly” or “Flight of the Navigator” to life, I would be in awe and would call that new media. In reading through the other responses, about the only one that rings true for me is the example of compression of time. It is definitely true with today’s level of networking that information travels much faster than it used to between people. Once again, I don’t think this would qualify new media as that has been happening “quickly” since the days of bulletin board services and other similar technologies. However I will agree that the scope of information trading has increased dramatically with faster connections making possible more detailed and more elaborate information blocks. Blocks that started as text and tiny pictures that has evolved into things like Youtube and online gaming.

  5. We could even ask if there is something “fund-a-mentally” new in new media. We are currently reading ‘New Media. An Introduction’ (3rd edition) by Terry Flew. He mentions digitization, convergence, interactivity and networks and networking as the keys to understanding new media.

    However, at the University of Amsterdam we prefer not to talk about new media in essentialist terms. Such characteristics are sensitive to time thus we argue that new media should be historicized. What is new now may not be new tomorrow and characteristics change, evolve, disappear and merge.

  6. Marc Dostie

    New media today is only reinterpretations of traditional media in various formats to which we see there being a new idea behind that surge. just like today we see everyone putting videos on you tube, we saw individuals almost a century ago build Hollywood into what it is by experimenting video with new ideas behind it.

  7. boursier

    New media is a victim of nomenclature; it’s new because we say it is.
    The world wide web presents not only new channels to old media, but because it changes the controls held over distribution for most traditional media. What are the substantial differences between someone wearing a sandwich board with something scrawled on it and someone with a website? Geography and interest. The limitations of geography and the rules of conventional visibility limit access to the sandwich board message. The culture in which you are operating your sandwich board message dictates the terms on which you will be heard, ignored, and understood whereas the web presents a forum for unconventional thought elevated to a polished form. It’s much easier and less expensive for a devotee to turn their message into a website than it is a sign to be worn outside looking like a jackass. This affordable, quick-polishing solution also puts their message in a context where like minded individuals are likely to find it. The bonding of communities with mutual interests was often limited again by constraints of space, but the web produced a world in which people separated by great distances could communicate and establish community. I think what I’m trying to say is that new media has established a much fatter pipeline with which to engage in furry cybersex and discuss 9/11 conspiracies; these are not mutually exclusive.

  8. Pingback: What The Fuck Is New Media?–Bock The Robber

  9. Pingback: What’s “new” about new media? — New Media Portal

  10. I like the idea of thinking about this question historically. The term “new media” has its challenges because looking back, every new development in media technology is “new” at the time it comes out. And all new media borrow from, riff on, attempt to subsume, and/or retroactively alter the existing (“old?”) media of the day.

    That said, I do see places where the “newest” new media fundamental break with the now “newest” old (analog?) media. The personal computer is key because we now have one box that can be used for consumption, storage, and production of “content” and also for networked communication (which as others have said, changes dynamics of space and time).

    So this might be called “convergence.” It’s convergence of devices, convergence of formats (digital data), and convergence (or blurring) of ways we use media that were formerly much more distinctly separated, namely, production and consumption.

    Lev Manovich, who I am coincidentally rereading right now, identifies five general thrusts of new media that break with the past in significant ways. As a former programmer, he starts at the basic structural level and works up to a cultural level to craft a convincing argument.

    His first two principles are the most important: 1) numerical representation of all “content,” which makes new media programmable and 2) the modular structure of new media, which means it can all be broken down into smaller independent objects. From these we get 3) automation, 4) variability, and finally, 5) cultural transcoding, which is to say that the conventions of the computer (which constantly change with innovation) influence and blend with our human culture as a whole. Here we get a nod to folks like McLuhan who want to look at the way form and structure of media change human relations.

    So the term “new media” is problematic, but perhaps more convenient than “numerically represented, modular, networked, culturally transcoding media.”

  11. tim s.

    Whats new? I suppose theres always something new , because new media is constantly evolving. the whole blogging thing is new to me but ive seen it around and it seems pretty resourceful, for research or just sharing opinions.

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  13. It does seem to me that there are still many technophobe/technophile arguements going on about this. There is nothing ‘new’ about writing content, however there is definately something new about how far that content can travel.

    It was not long ago that the traditional forms of media such as the television could only be picked up in the country that they were being transmitted. Now we have satalite TV reaching a huge audience, worldwide. It is connecting people in ways and giving us common topics to talk about.

    The other thing is that perhaps there are no ‘new’ games on the Internet – most RPGs are based on the traditional D&D rules, which were based on very simple rules of play from earlier games – however; this does not mean that the ‘medium’ has not changed. People in WoW are connecting with others accross europe/america that they would never have met before, they are picking up on each others linguistic styles, grammar, and other languages not just 1337 speak!

    The *medium* has changed, 2,3,4-way communication can be had (the prime minister of the UK has his own youtube channel where the public can ask questions and get a personal response), and games are now ’emmergent’ (the outcome of a task is unknown it depends on the people involved and their roll in the game).

    Many people feel more connected, they feel that their stories ‘can’ be heard. They don’t have to mass produce and ship their personal diary to America. We can read the same news story on elpais.es and on bbc.co.uk we can see the two countries newspapers different takes on a story.

    The ‘medium’ changed because of the technology which drives it. The ‘media’ just got bigger, it got easier to participate in (for those on the power grid).

  14. Cutter Mitchell

    I think the answer is in how you asked the question. New Media is not new. It simply refers to the revolutionizing of traditional media. Meaning taking it and reinventing in through technology.

    For example, the newspaper. That was really the first form of media. Major I mean. Please correct me if that is wrong, but it works for this. So when radio came out, there was a New Media for newspapers. In that news reports were then broadcast over the radio waves instead of captured in print. The same happened when television came out. There was once again a new media for newspapers/radio news, this tim it was broadcast in video format.

    Each of these changes is a New Media Revolution. This is what is happening now with media. Just take this blog, it is on the New Media Revolution track.

  15. Apollo

    Great question.

    This discussion parallels the issues raised by Existentialists about “I think therefor I am” of “what is I, thinking, and ‘am’.” We need to understand the basic concepts which these ideas are based on.

    As for “new” I define it as “newly created and emerging” within the past 25 years, roughly the past generation. This allows the inclusion of the internet, which was created over 30 years ago, as well as video games, which are also ‘created’ rather long ago.

    The issue of going with “newly created” is that all of these recent technologies are derivative and evolutions of past technologies, so it’s not very effective to state that a completely new standalone paradigm has been created across multiple mediums; as much as they have “grown” out of the past.

    For Lev Manovich’s definition, none of his examples is signs of “new” media effects. Transcoding was done by Nikola Tesla WAY back for the first phonograph recordings, modularity applies to any complex device including the automaton wooden toys of ancient times in China and Greece, variability is everywhere in nature, and finally cultural transcoding has happened with every new evolution of mediums of expression such as accessibility of news from the creation of the newsprint press. These examples are a great list of what new media has HELPED happen, but not a solid way for defining it.

  16. There is no real definition of new media. Online was the first that came along so there is a certain synonymnity, but with the plethora of new media coming along that will change. In-taxi advertising with touchscreen LCD can be New Media.

  17. Outside of the technical aspects of the new media, it can also be partly defined by a couple of its first casualties:

    Foremost, the Editor. That bottleneck of conscience that judged a story for newsworthiness and accuracy. The mentor that taught technique and ethics. The Editor maintained journalism’s integrity.

    Secondly, the Photograph as Editorial Art. Apparently if it’s not free, it’s not worth having in the new media.

    More than anything, these characterize the new media for me. A lack of integrity and art. It’s like watching the Olympics devolve into professional wrestling on “Open Ring Night.”

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