Definition: New Media
‘New Media’ is a buzzword, shorthand for a volatile cultural and technology industry that includes multimedia, entertainment and e-commerce. The unifying term ‘New Media’ refers to a wide range of changes in media production, distribution and use. These are changes that are technological, textual, conventional and cultural.
Since mid 1980’s a number of concepts have come to the fore which offer to define the key characteristics of the field of new media as a whole. Here are some of the terms in discourses about new media. These are: digital, interactive, hypertextual, virtual, networked and stimulated.
The free internet based encyclopedia, Wikipedia, itself a product of New Media, defines New Media as the product of mediated communication technologies coming together with digital computers. Before the 1980s, the media relied mainly on print and analogue models like newspapers, television, cinema and radio. Now we have digital radio, television and cinema, while even the printing press has been transformed by new digital technologies such as image manipulation softwares like Adobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools.
Some technologies we might therefore, include as or associate with New Media are:
- The internet and World Wide Web
- Digital Television
- Digital Cinema
- Personal Computers (PCs)
- DVDs (Digital Versatile Disc or Digital Video Disc)
- CDs (Compact Discs)
- Portable Media Players (such as the MP3 player)
- Mobile phones
- Video (or computer) games
- Virtual Reality (VR)
- Artificial Intelligence (AI)
New Media might not be an ideal term for such a range of technologies, but it is one that is increasingly recognized internationally and one that is generally associated with the technological transformations in communication that have recently taken place.
At the heart of this cultural shift sits the Internet, the ultimate network of networks. With its roots in the 1950s and 1960s, our Internet is not especially new itself. What is new is this interconnected series of computer networks tied together by satellite, wireless, fibre optic cable and wire which has enabled the traditional model of mass communication to be radically altered.
In many ways, the recent growth of new media studies has coincided with that of the Internet, though of course it is by no means the only significant new media technology. Since the 1970s, when the first ‘personal computers’ were introduced and ‘APRANET’ was built as an elite channel for technical communication, the Internet has become a platform for commerce, sociality and popular culture.
Through keyword-driven Internet search engines like ‘Yahoo!’, ‘Lycos’, ‘Ask Jevees’, ‘Alta Vista’ and ‘Google’, millions of people worldwide now have instant and easy access to a vast and diverse amount of information online. Compared to encyclopedias and traditional libraries, the World Wide Web has enabled a sudden and extreme decentralization of information.
Yet, while the Internet is usually identified with New Media, computers per se are not. Although, we could confidently argue that the Internet is a part of New Media, as the Internet itself changes so some critics argue that it is now also entering a new phase in its development, one that is distinctly different from its past.
The concept of Web 2.0 is distinct from Web 1.0 in that its websites allow users to do more than just retrieve information; it includes a social element where users generate and distribute content, with freedom to share and reuse. Examples of this would include social-networking websites (such as You tube, Myspace and Facebook), wikis (like WikiWikiWeb and Wikipedia) that allow users to create, edit and link web pages easily.
Web 1.0 Web 2.0
Double click à Google Adsense
Ofoto à Flickr
Britannica Online à Wikipedia
Personal websites à Blogging
Page views à cost per click
Publishing à participation
Today, the internet is different is terms of content, distribution, and usability than it was made open to public. We now have a new relationship that has increased participation, creativity and interactivity on the web as a whole.