To What Extent Is ‘new’ Media Actually New?

2075 words (8 pages) Essay in Media

08/02/20 Media Reference this

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In this essay, I’m going to discuss to what extent is ‘new’ media actually new and make comparisons between old and new media forms. By my definition, ‘new’ media is a series of platforms for broadcasting information which were invented using the ever-growing advancements in technology e.g. the internet. The information is consumed from smart phones, laptops, desktops and tablets, and it often withholds the same information as the ‘old’ media, although its style is different. Upon first glance, you may get the impression that ‘new’ media may seem to be much more evolved than it actually is as it’s known to adopt features that their predecessors have already used. This essay will argue that traditional media is refashioned into ‘new’ media, that traditional media from a museum has qualities we often associate only with ‘new’ media, that both ‘new’ and traditional media practice similar techniques and that due to a convergence paradigm media has blended together. From my collection of case studies, books and articles I’ve encountered, I’ve managed to get several points together to back up my argument and prove that my thesis statement is accurate.

A contentious issue surrounding my definition is that the information that these ‘new’ media platforms may be broadcasting is nothing that you can’t already view from traditional media that already exists. Therefore, how can it really be considered ‘new’ if the content can still be viewed from a traditional media platform? Also, another issue with this definition is that not all the information displayed on these platforms are verified meaning that anyone could’ve fabricated an entire news story and display it in legit way which leads to the spreading of “fake news”. My final issue with the definition is with the “ever-growing advancements in technology” when will what we consider today as ‘new’ media transform into what we call ‘traditional’ media currently as we continue to push boundaries for what media platforms can be due to the rapid evolution of technology. When a ground-breaking discovery comes to light in the digital world and everything progresses forward, then will a completely different platform step forward and become ‘new’ media?

We live in a society today where ‘new’ media can be boxed into a small screen and stuck to the palm of our hands, so that we can constantly read, devour and adjust to the content it gives us. However, ‘old’ media was still influencing the social aspects, morals and actions of people all over the globe. In an earlier time people read paper copies, listened to the radio and even discussed it in life with friends and family. This is all still going on, but now ‘new’ media is handed to us on a silver platter, making it somewhat easier to read, watch and discuss. It’s not really that different to ‘old’ media in a sense that it’s just evolved due to technological advancements like the World Wide Web and computer graphics. As stated by (Bolter & Grusin, 1999: 14-15). “What’s new about ‘new’ media comes from the particular ways in which they refashion older media and the ways in which older media refashion themselves to answer the challenges of new media.” This is referring to remediation which is the representation of older media within digital media. Bolter and Grusin are hinting to the idea that ‘old’ media just reinvented itself to evolve itself into ‘new’ media and that no media event completes cultural work without the influence of another media source which has previously existed.

Moreover, one example we could look at is social media which was first invented in 1997 but now statistics predict 2.77 billion people across the globe are using social media in 2019. As older media is still recognized as one of the main sources of news, it is known to spread into ‘new’ media when it’s reposted on social media in the form of news articles, news video clips etc. and their users will comment on them whilst on those platforms. This shows us how ‘new’media platforms are trying to reach the broader population as when they began they could only target a narrow audience. Once again, it shows us that ‘new’ media isn’t necessarily ‘new’ as it still has a lot of examples of traditional media imbedded within it’s platforms. 

From a recent trip I took to Brighton Museum, I explored the Film and Media collections that contained objects from 1896 to 1970. Whilst I was there, I took notes on how film-making and projecting apparatus had developed over the years. One artefact I took particular interest in was the Binual magic lantern invented in 1850. We see that the lantern is an image projector displaying pictures painted, printed or produced photographically, usually on glass with a lense and a light source. This was later used for educational purposes to teach children in schools. By being able to present large imagery whilst teaching, changed the educational system – it meant that children were able to learn better and prove to be more knowledgeable from taking in more memorable information. We can compare this to a modern day interactive whiteboard used in classes to project images that help us understand information. An interactive whiteboard works in a very similar way to a Binual magic lantern. However, rather than projecting images through photographs and paintings the images are projected digitally. Except from the interactive feature of the whiteboards, are the products themselves really so different? The main purpose of both products remain the same – to project and enlarge images to see information better. Therefore, I believe this traditional form of projection apparatus is not much different from the modern day whiteboard – enforcing that ‘new’ media is not so different from traditional media. Therefore, I believe the purpose of this new and old projection media has not changed, but merely been adapted to have multipurpose features that speed up the using process.

In addition to my argument, one of my points is that both ‘new’ and ‘old’ media practice the use of immediacy and hypermediacy. As suggested by (Bolter and Grusin, 1999: 5) “both new and old media are invoking the twin logics of immediacy and hypermediacy”. Immediacy is the need we have as humans to create media that reflects our reality as accurately as possible. Throughout history, there have been many attempts at achieving this goal, one major example is virtual reality. Bolter and Grusin believe that this transparent interface is needed to dodge the fact that ‘new’ digital technology is mediated. Further in the book, they state that the human aspect is being erased from media and that is a massive part of immediacy as it help us differentiate between what’s legitimate and what’s not. When they mention immediacy, I believe they are referring to the fact that artists and designers make an attempt of providing extremely immersive scenarios that create a sense of immediacy. For example, computer interfaces have become a vital concept for Bolter and Grusin when discussing immediacy in digital media.

On the other hand, the opposite to immediacy is hypermediacy which is defined simply as multiple forms of media joined together in a viewing experience. A good example of traditional media that featured hypermediacy is magazines. For example, a magazine layout features many combinations of mediums like images, text etc. These features are specifically placed so they don’t draw too much attention from each other. Contrastingly, looking at newer digital media like a Windows desktop, the same rules of placement still apply so the features don’t all blend into one another and give different perspectives to the user. This furthers my point of how ‘new’ digital media isn’t that far from traditional media as there are examples of both of them using immediacy and hypermediacy throughout the cultural history of media.

Another point that furthers my argument is the fact that new media has just blended with old media in a convergence paradigm so they aren’t as separate as many believe. In a book I was reading called ‘Convergence culture: where old and new media collide’ I learnt about the term ‘convergence’ and what it meant in terms of traditional and digital media combining. As stated by (Jenkins, 2008: 6) “More and more, industry leaders are returning to convergence as a way of making sense of a moment of disorienting change. Convergence is, in that sense, an old concept taking on new meanings.” Old and new media companies have used convergence as a vital reference point way of imagining the next steps of the entertainment industry. If the digital revolution paradigm thought that newer media would’ve replaced older media, the new convergence paradigm presumed that both of them with find complex ways of interacting with one another instead of one displacing the other. It seems that now there is an on-going blurring of the distinctions between media, mass media, electronic communications and information technology.

One example I found was a international television production company ‘Endemol’ which gained its profits through PC platforms, websites and telecommunications etc. This is a clear example of the merging of products and services which is an important form of convergence. It also is a concept that involves producing a better online performance, much more diverse content, the standardization of areas of the Internet, removal of many restrictions holding companies back, globalization etc. Specifically, media convergence is interpreted as all forms of media being brought together by technological changes. These technological changes include the World Wide Web which when invented in the 1990s, it allowed people to grasp a vision of the future and due to globalization of technology, both news printed in newspapers and online news articles have become more liberal than ever before. This shows both examples of old and new media working coercively meaning that governments will find it harder to control entire markets.

In conclusion, I believe I have compared numerous examples of older and newer media with one another and come to the decision that my thesis statement still stands that ‘new’ media isn’t as new as we were first led to believe. I’ve explored a number of examples displaying the many similarities that the two have in common and concluded that they both feed off each other to grow and develop in our society today. Personally, I think it is fair to say that since the birth of the internet, ‘new’ media has been able to reach people from every corner of the world and inform them on the latest news from each country. However, there is some traditional media examples that will never be replaced by newer media in the digital age as they are ingrained in our society as we know it today. But what does this mean for the future of media? The rapid rates of change in how we as a society consume media and the ways in which technology has enabled new ways of interaction is so fast that even trying to predict what will happen in a year is impossible. Maybe in a year from now, ‘new’ media has evolved greatly due to technological advancements and has now less features that you can correlate to traditional media, meaning that it can wholeheartedly be named ‘new’ media. Another question of “what does the future hold for traditional media like print, TV and radio etc.?” I strongly believe that there are some aspects of traditional media that are so ingrained in the roots of our society that they will never fully be removed. As we move forward, traditional media is also shifting and evolving to mimic the characteristics we adore so much about digital media and the key might be a combination of the both that maximize success.

Bibliography

  1. https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/
  2. Bolter, J. and Grusin, R. (2003). Remediation. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.
  3. Jenkins, H. (2006). Introduction: “Worship at the Altar of Convergence”: A New Paradigm for Understanding Media Change. In Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide (pp. 1-24). New York; London: NYU Press. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt9qffwr.4
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