New Media and Mass Communication
Theory relating to mass communication has to be continually reassessed in the light of new technologies and their applications. We recognized the arrival of new types of media that extend and change the entire spectrum of socio-technological possibilities for public communication. No transformation has yet taken place, and it is too early to predict how far and fast the process of change will go. Even so, it is important to anticipate the possibility and examine the implications for the key issues of society and culture that have already been raised. The underlying assumption in this chapter is that a medium is not just an applied technology for transmitting certain symbolic content or linking participants in some exchange. It also embodies a set of social relations that interact with features of the new technology. New theory is only likely to be required if there is a fundamental change in the forms of social organization of media technologies, in the social relations that are promoted, or in what Carey (1998) terms the ‘dominant structures of taste and feeling’. Details are provided by essay writing !
There are some grounds for thinking that mass media have changed, certainly from the early-twentieth-century days of one-way, one-directional and undifferentiated flow to an undifferentiated mass. There are social and economic as well as technological reasons for this shift, but it is real enough. Secondly, information society theory as outlined in Chapter 4 also indicates the rise of a new kind of society, quite distinct from mass society, one characterized by complex interactive networks of communication. In the circumstances, we need to reassess the main thrust of media social-cultural theory.
The ‘new media’ discussed here are in fact a disparate set of communication technologies that share certain features apart from being new, made possible by digitalization and being widely available for personal use as communication devices. An initial definition of new media has been given earlier (p. 38), and at this point we need only note that we are particularly interested in those new media and applications that on various grounds enter the sphere of mass communication or directly or indirectly have consequences for the ‘traditional’ mass media. Attention focuses mainly on the collective ensemble of activities that fall under the heading ‘Internet’, especially on the more public uses, including online news, advertising, broadcasting applications (including downloading of music, etc), forums and discussion activities, the World Wide Web, information searches and certain community-forming potentials. We are less concerned with private e-mail, game-playing and many other more or less private services provided by way of the Internet.
The chapter will look at defining characteristics of new media, their applications and the accompanying communication experience. The rather brief history of new media to date has been marked by considerable division of opinion about the
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