Category Archives: History of New Media

Newspaper v Internet: If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em

While most newspapers are trying to stake bigger claims online, one new publication is pulling material off the Internet to be printed in ink. John Wilpers, editor in chief of BostonNow, a free weekday daily introduced last month, said he wanted to fill the paper with items that local bloggers submitted to the BostonNow Web site. Last week, editors began culling posts and running excerpts next to articles from reporters and newswires. The blog items, which appear in gray boxes, are still relatively few, but Mr. Wilpers said he thought the feature would grow.

Mr. Wilpers, who previously edited two other free commuter newspapers, Metro Boston and The Washington Examiner, said he wanted to address what he believed was the news industry’s biggest problem: an inability to connect with the communities it covers.

“It doesn’t take a whole lot of smarts to look out at the Internet and see thousands writing on their communities, whether they be geographic or thematic,” Mr. Wilpers said. “They’re writing about Jamaica Plain or Dorchester or the Boston music scene or windsurfing on Massachusetts Bay.” BostonNow also hopes to help connect bloggers with fans. With a current circulation of about 85,000, BostonNow potentially offers a much larger readership than most local bloggers are used to. The greater exposure could translate into increased ad revenue for their own sites.


Read this article
from the New York Times

It’s no surprise that “print” is looking for new revenue answers online, but gimmicky solutions aren’t the answer. The history of media evolution suggests those mediums that can’t adapt or integrate, die. (Least we assume the Internet is the end-all, be-all of communications media.) Although newspapers face this challenge, it’s not like publishers have to reinvent the wheel to get good content online. The bigger obstacle is getting everyone to understand you can still make money in a subscription-free environment.

Previously from What’s New Media…all things web meets newspaper.

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Filed under Blogosphere, Business 2.0, History of New Media, Media Evolution, When New Meets Old

When (and why) did eMail jump the shark? And can it jump back?

When e-mail was first developed, the network was a friendly place. Most users were researchers, and they had a vested interest in making the network work well. For the most part, they knew each other; in fact, there was a directory of every network user, including their names, physical and e-mail addresses, and phone numbers–printed on paper and weighing less than 2 pounds….In all, financial losses attributed to phishing in 2006 amounted to around $2.8 billion. Because of this, most individuals and companies have little trust in their e-mail systems, and the challenge facing e-mail administrators has evolved from filtering out the bad messages to filtering in the good….Work has been progressing for several years on an e-mail authentication technology known as DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail), developed collaboratively by several companies, including Cisco Systems, Yahoo, Sendmail and PGP.

Read this item from C|Net

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Filed under History of New Media, Media Evolution, Networks

Looking back, the Communications Decency Act that almost was

The Communications Decency Act was passed in 1996. The goal was to protect children from harmful content on the Internet, which sounds great in theory but turns out to be terribly difficult to implement in practice. Many groups believed that the CDA was overly vague and could restrict all sorts of legitimate speech between adults, and the ACLU took the lead in the legal challenge to the law. The case worked its way up to the Supreme Court, where it became the first Internet-related case addressed by the Court. Reno v. ACLU was decided on June 26, 1997, and it struck down major sections of the CDA. The Court found that the law was imprecise; regulating speech generally requires highly-specific controls, and the text of the law did not meet that standard. The CDA did not define “indecent” and “patently offensive,” nor did it include the caveat that “patently offensive” material with some socially redeeming value would be allowed. The justices found that filtering on the user end (that is, by parents) was a less-troubling method of filtering out unwanted Internet content.

Read this item from Ars Technica

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Filed under A democratic medium?, Censorship, History of New Media, The Politics of New Media

Internet overload or just the usual doomsaying?

As the flood of data across the internet continues to increase, there are those that say sometime soon it is going to collapse under its own weight. But that is what they said last year. Back in the early 90s, those of us that were online were just sending text e-mails of a few bytes each, traffic across the main US data lines was estimated at a few terabytes a month, steadily doubling every year. But the mid 90s saw the arrival of picture-rich websites, and the invention of the MP3. Suddenly each net user wanted megabytes of pictures and music, and the monthly traffic figure exploded. For the next few years we saw more steady growth with traffic again roughly doubling every year. But since 2003, we have seen another change in the way we use the net. The YouTube generation want to stream video, and download gigabytes of data in one go. “In one day, YouTube sends data equivalent to 75 billion e-mails; so it’s clearly very different,” said Phil Smith, head of technology and corporate marketing at Cisco Systems. “The network is growing up, is starting to get more capacity than it ever had, but it is a challenge.

Read this item from the BBC’s Click

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Is email going extinct? If so, what will replace it?

We are witnessing a breathtaking evolution of new forms of digital communication. More than witnessing, we are facilitating it. All of this is unfolding so quickly that we do not have time to pause and reflect on what is happening. But if email is becoming an endangered species, then we need to pay attention. So the question still stands: what really different and new forms of communication are we going to see next?

Expore the progression of new media communication forms with the Read/Write Web’s Alex Iskold

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Computers, the greatest media tool? Adoption rates suggest otherwise.

Even if we give computer usership the benefit of the (statistical) doubt, 15 to 30 percent of the population still doesn’t even bother to use the most important and powerful communication tool since the telephone. And the PC’s been around for more than 30 years! Televisions, by contrast, were in 70 percent of U.S. homes within 10 years, and now have an adoption rate of 98 percent (according to the CEA). DVD players were in 82 percent of households within nine years of introduction. There’s a conclusion to be drawn here, perhaps, about the (lazy) priorities of some Americans: that they’d rather sit back on the couch and watch The Chronicles of Riddick than clean up the grammar in the Wikipedia entry on the Boxer Rebellion. But I think that there is more going on here than just a battle between passive entertainment and active engagement with cyberspace….The computer has always been an awkward consumer electronics device. Unlike televisions, telephones and DVD players, PCs require constant updates and regular maintenance. And they have a failure rate that is astoundingly high. Furthermore, until recently, objects like TVs didn’t change that much. If you bought a color television in 1975, you could pretty much be assured that it wasn’t going to be rendered obsolete in five years. And if some new television technology came along, it was going to deliver a noticeable improvement from what you already had (if you liked “I Love Lucy” on your black and white TV, you were going to love “The Flintstones” in color). Computer users, on the other hand, must constantly upgrade their hardware just to keep pace with software and services. What’s more, because of their inherent complexity, personal computers still have a steep learning curve, even though they are at a relatively mature stage of their evolution.

Read Computer Adoption: Buzzword from Popular Mechanics

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Filed under History of New Media, Media Evolution, Technology, our Mirror, When New Meets Old

What McLuhan meant

Marshall McLuhan was concerned with the observation that we tend to focus on the obvious. In doing so, we largely miss the structural changes in our affairs that are introduced subtly, or over long periods of time. Whenever we create a new innovation – be it an invention or a new idea – many of its properties are fairly obvious to us. We generally know what it will nominally do, or at least what it is intended to do, and what it might replace. We often know what its advantages and disadvantages might be. But it is also often the case that, after a long period of time and experience with the new innovation, we look backward and realize that there were some effects of which we were entirely unaware at the outset. We sometimes call these effects “unintended consequences,” although “unanticipated consequences” might be a more accurate description…..Why is this understanding of “the medium is the message” particularly useful? We tend to notice changes – even slight changes (that unfortunately we often tend to discount in significance.) “The medium is the message” tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. With this early warning, we can set out to characterize and identify the new medium before it becomes obvious to everyone – a process that often takes years or even decades. And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive. As McLuhan reminds us, “Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force.”

An excerpt from What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message? by Mark Federman, Chief Strategist at the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology

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