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The Concept of Old and New Media

Question:

Drawing on relevant research critically discuss how new media technologies have blurred the lines between media consumers and media producers. How has this phenomenon impacted on media audience research? 

New media technologies can be considered as any such type of application that transfers information with the help of computerized systems or digital techniques or data networks. This technology was initially established in the 20th century and was then primarily associated with the transfer of information in a more manipulative manner (Courtois, Verdegem and De Marez, 2012). Most of the form of this technology is extremely interactive and contains such data design that is compressed and would be accessed in different markets. Some of the most common instances of this new media technology comprises of Internet-based concepts such as websites and other digital mediums such as CD-ROMs and DVDs (Craig A. Cunningham, 2009). The old media such as television, film and paper based products are not included in the ambit of new media.

This concept of new media technology commenced during the 1960s (Puppis, 2010). As the modern computer technology started the exchange of information through the medium gradually started becoming a very powerful application. This media technology is used by the artists and designers to discover new concepts and create new things in this field such as new video games or digital artwork (Pierson, Mante-Meijer and Loos, 2011). The use of such technologies started becoming more prevalent in the 1980s and it replaced the other traditional mediums by the implementation of the computers and video game systems.

In accordance to the standards of new media technology there are common elements existing in the modern mediums. In contemporary times since technology is available in almost all corners of the world the geographic distance has lessened. The communication level as well as the speed has increased with the help of the internet. Moreover, the level of exchange in information has helped the users to adapt the new technologies and supply input. 

The concept of old and new media 

To critically discuss the topic “how new media technologies have blurred the lines between the media producers and media consumers”, one thing is clear enough that an understandable difference between old and new media should be illustrated on the very initial part of the discussion. Old media consists of mostly radio, print, movies, television and their presence within the societies and human lives was restricted to a small number of places (Fischer, 2010). For instance, radio and television are invented long back and use to be the main technology aspects in the residences. Initially movies were enjoyed in theatres until DVD players and VCRs brought the facilities to enjoy the movies into homes. The closest item to a transportable mass medium was reading a paper or book on a travel to and from work (Len-Ríos, 2011). Nevertheless, new media are considered as more social and personal than older media that generates an inconsistency. New media concurrently connect and separate media consumers. As a whole it can be said that a shift from analogue to digital technology is the new media. Various different terminologies are applied when people discuss about new media. These include online media, digital media, personal media and social media.

Characteristics of Different Media

Characteristics of different media; source: (Deitel, Deitel and Nieto, 2000).

The terminology ‘new media’ itself is critiqued for setting up an artificial dichotomy between old and new (Ross, 2010). The technological advancement to set the media as new media has been in the process of improvement since many years and also it has no last limit (Deitel, Deitel and Nieto, 2000). Various in innovations make the ‘new media’ more novel and fresh and this process in continuing. So, it is also a matter of concern whether people can accept already existing ‘new media’ as old or oldest as new innovations are in line. For instance the internet is present in its own capacity since past forty years and the World Wide Web made internet more accessible to the crowds (Anderson, 2014). Now, it can be said that the term ‘new’ assist public to understand few main technological alterations from old media forms and also says that the new media forms are current and future oriented, as technology and media are developing faster constantly than before (Deitel, Deitel and Nieto, 2000). So, again what is an innovation today may not be accepted new within a week. In spite of rapid technological development, compatibility associated with multiple platforms ironically permits for some constancy. Whereas, innovative technology frequently made the analogue media products and devices outdated, the new media format stays same even as updated and newer gadgets with which to access digital media become obtainable. Important to innovative media is considered as the idea of technical convergence (Chambers, 2011). Mostly new media are digital and the current digitization of old media permits new media to freely circulate and be played or accessed or read by any of the digital media platform with no requirement for conversion.  This can be illustrated with an example, records cannot be played in a cassette tape player or VHS cassette tapes cannot be played in a DVD player. Similarly, while machines which print words and human eyes are the encoding and decoding tools required to connect with the analogue structures of print media, people can read printed text books or can read printed material on a system, or on a Smartphone, i-pad, e-reader or different other handheld gadgets (Kendall, 2008). Another characteristic of this new media is blurring of lines between the media consumers and media producers as individual media consumers now pose a more personal association with the media.

Personal media

The term personal media is used as the media users are free to select the content of the media to which they wish to get exposed, to produce their personal content, to share their content with others, to link or comment on other’s content and overall to structure modified media environments (Boase, 2008). While the mass media messages are the conception of professionals and institutions, many personal media messages are the formation of small groups or individuals whose abilities range from recreational to professional. Personal systems permitted hobbyists and amateurs to formulate new system programs which individuals could circulate on discs or possibly during early internet connections (Jenkins, 2006). Camcorders permitted individuals to generate different variety of products from videos to independent or amateur films.  Listening devices and portable recordings allowed individual to make their personalized mix tapes and give musicians an accessible and affordable way to generate demo tapes. These types of media creations were not easily distributed prior as today, as analogue technology still necessitated that individual send their notes on tapes or discs.

Technical Convergence

Digital media

Personal media laid across the line to social and new media with growing accessibility of digital media and internet. As the media products for example pictures, music and videos turned digital, analogue personalized media gadgets, which individual once brought around were no longer essential (Luders, 2008). Latest online platforms offered individual the chance to make and create content which could be obtained by any person with the help of an internet connection. For instance: a singer, who would have sold his/her recorded songs on cassettes out of his/her vehicle might be discovered now after putting his/her song on MySpace (Kendall, 2008).

Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites are the most influential element of new web. As per Vitkauskaite (2012), this allows the media users to construct a semipublic or public profile, build a connective network to other individuals and check other’s networks and profiles of connections (Vitkauskaite, 2012). The concept of social networking has been existed for more than a decade, previous emphasis for example MySpace and Friendster have yielded to the massive site called Facebook. More specific networking site like: LinkedIn concentrate on the professional networking (Mandiberg, 2012). In any situation, the capacity to status updates, self-publish instruction, likes, dislikes, links and profiles allows individual to craft individual life narrative and share with other individuals (Dunbar-Hester, 2009). Similarly, other individuals can follow others’ narratives in the same network as these are generated. The level to what people engage with the narratives of others differs depend upon the closeness of association and situational aspects, but the social networking sites are applied to maintain weak, moderate and string ties with other members. Social media is considered as the way through the concept of sharing and collaboration rather than merely through interpersonal interaction and connection.

As per Fisher (2014), the growth of concept of creative general licensing and open source publishing presents challenge to conventional copyrights, corporations and media outlets. The concept of open source publishing initially appeared with software programming (Fisher, 2014). ‘Crowdsourcing’ refers to the concept stage of improvement where individual from different positions and perceptions offer information or proposals to explain a problem or formulate something fresh. In a nutshell, the amalgamation of crowdsourcing and open source publishing permits the media user community to jointly create and develop on more creative projects, products and ideas (Shepherd, 2012). Contrasting most media inventions which are closely monitored and tightly copyrighted by the organizations which create then, crowdsourcing and open source publishing increase the democratizing prospective of new media. 

As per Dunbar-Hester (2009), the arrival of this participative, democratizing, collaborative and new media has been embraced and resisted by the channels linked with old media (Dunbar-Hester, 2009).  Increased feedback and participations represents that the conventional media channels which were applied to passive and one –way audiences now have to pay attention to and answer feedback, some of what are negative and critical as well (Bell, 2010). User formulated content professional as well as unpaid, can compete directly with the traditional mass media substance, which charges much more to generate.

Personal Media

Social media

Social media is said to be responsible for entire occurrence of viral videos, where a commercial parody can reach millions and billions of audiences within few minutes than a real commercial. Medial channels are in a contradiction (Mihailidis and Thevenin, 2013). These channels want to support the participation of the audiences but they want to be equipped to predict and control the media utilization habits and audience recreations.

New media comprise mainly digital media that are designed to read binary code. New media are different from old media as they are less related to specific platform and are hence more movable from one device to another. New media are also less attached to physical object (Woodward, 2007). That means instruction can be accumulated electronically more willingly than requiring to encoded to physical object. New media are more social and personal than old media (Gates, 2008). This is because the line between the media producers and media consumers haze in new media; media users obtain more independence to personalize individual media experiences. Moreover, reciprocative web of personalized media gadgets allow people to collaborate, be in touch with one another and share instruction in various ways which increase the communal nature of the application of technology (Dunbar-Hester, 2009).

The concept of Prosumer

Vincent Miller makes argument on the idea how the lines between consumers and producers blurred, in his writing named “understanding digital culture” (Miller, 2011). Consumers are the purchasers or the audiences of the produced objects and producers create cultural objects and content. By referring to the term prosumers, Millers illustrates that along with the introduction of convergent innovative media and choice overabundance in information sources, in addition to augmented ability to generate content by themselves (Bell, 2010). This move away from producer domination to consumer or audience power would suppose to have speed up and thus grinding down the consumer-producer distinction (Davies, 2015). ‘Prosumer’ is said to be the completing consequence of  strategy, which has been growingly applied that supports feedback between consumers and producers (in short prosumers)  and this allows for more media consumers control over the creation of products. 

Impact of new media technologies on media audience research 

Communication study has always considered media effect to be very significant part of it and hence the number of theoretical achievements has been more in this field. Nevertheless, in the era of new media technologies the effect of both the new media and the traditional media is seen to deviate from the present theories (Kent, 1994).

As the new and advanced media technology is gradually opening up, it is observed that the traditional media is slowly collapsing (Nightingale, 2011). This traditional media had won a public trust in the past couple of years and with the advent of the new media technologies this trust is diminishing at very fast pace (Tyner, 2009).

The modern social networks such as Microblog, Facebook, and Twitter assist people to extract more information from the internet resources than the general sources such as the television and newspapers (Walden, 2012). Through the new media technologies the chances of enforcing the audience to believe the propaganda of the government is comparatively less (Newman, 2010). Additionally, it is also true that when the propaganda by the state media shifts from common sense the reality becomes more of an irony to the propaganda for the audience (Gunter and Machin, 2009).

The influence of the new media has a two step flow. Generally it is seen that when the opinion leaders are influenced by the media only then most part of the audience is influenced as they are guided by these opinion leaders (Ross and Nightingale, 2003). It is seen that these opinion leaders are mostly urbane, serious media users and generally cannot be easily manipulated by the media content. Hence, we can say that they act as barriers between the media influence and the audience. To some extent this barrier is extremely necessary and effective.

Further, individual media tends to have very less power on the adult audience population. This is mainly because of the fact that by the time most people turn into adults they are absorbed by different groups and therefore individual media has less impact on them. In the new media technology era this is more prominent as the information of the opponent is no longer effective in this group of audiences.

Nevertheless, it can be noted that new media tends to offer a much wider view for the audiences. Primarily, there lies a major multiplication of the personal media in this new era. The traditional media in contemporary times is using newer arrangements of space and time. Presently what is more essential is not the technology but rather the social context of the use of the media. Hence, these social uses are a part of the broader reformulations.

With regard to implied audiences that includes the presumed or the imagined audiences, it is observed that they play a significant part in the discourses relating to the new media (Gillespie, 2005). Many scholars are considering the project of mapping new audiences with respect to the challenge for the application of the empirical methods to public speculations (Ross and Nightingale, 2003).

For a research on new media technology the empirical research on audience is extremely essential. With every passing day audiences are becoming less predictable and more fragmented in their relationship with the media (LIVINGSTONE, 1999). Hence understanding them is becoming even more important for the theories such as social shaping, markets, designs etc. Further with the advent of the new media technology in the form of multimedia computing, internet, and poly channel broadcasting the television audience is challenged (Napoli, 2011).

The new media technology provides the audience an increased control and choice over the facts of when or where or how the audience consumes the media and on the transformation of the relationship between the media and the audience (Book.douban.com, n.d.). Simultaneously, the new media technology also forms an assuring as well as monitoring audience behavior and this reveals the methods in which the audiences consume the media. These factors were unknown during the times of the old media technology (Lindlof, 1991).

Hence the ongoing technological changes force the media industries to think in a different manner regarding their audiences and undermine the traditional concepts and analytical approaches (Wicks, 2000). However, they also simultaneously open new dimensions for the conceptualizing audiences.

Therefore it can be stated that the new age audiences are slowly becoming more subtle and erratic. At the same time the new systems for measuring the audiences or gathering of feedback or anticipating their tastes and preferences are ensuring the media industries to redefine the true worthiness of the media audiences and how these audiences are included in the strategies and economics of the businesses (LIVINGSTONE, 1999). It can be then said that there is about to be an evolution of the media audiences in the near future.

Media industry analysts have generally emphasized on the idea that the media audience is a socially constructed occurrence and the industries that define the audience in a particular manner tend to reflect the needs and interests of these audiences and as a result some of the most essential features of the audiences are ignored (Bould, 2012).

In this context relating to media audiences the idea of rationalization of the understanding of the audience includes the efforts to carry more empirical rigor and quantitative methods in order to process the broad range of dimensions of audience behavior that includes exposure, awareness and appreciation.

Conclusion 

The exact procedure at work nowadays is one in which the chief conceptualization of the audience engaged by media industry stakeholders is shifting from the old focused based approach and is gradually exploring into the other wider dimensions relating to the experience of the audience including the engagement of the audience to the appreciation of the audience (Moores, 1990).

In the contemporary times it is seen that the increase in the audience fragmentation and audience autonomy that is mostly imposed by the new media technology is undermining the exposure model of the old media. 

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