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New media are forms of media that are native to computers, computational and relying on computers for redistribution. Some examples of new media are telephones, computers, virtual worlds, single media, website games, human-computer interface, computer animation and interactive computer installations.
New media are often contrasted to "old media", such as television, radio, and print media, although scholars in communication and media studies have criticised rigid distinctions based on oldness and novelty. New media does not include television programs (only analog broadcast), feature films, magazines, books, – unless they contain technologies that enable digital generative or interactive processes.
Wikipedia, an online encyclopedia, is a good example of New Media, combining Internet accessible digital text, images and video with web-links, creative participation of contributors, interactive feedback of users and formation of a participant community of editors and donors for the benefit of non-community readers. Facebook is another type of New Media, belonging to the category of social media model, in which most users are also participants. Another type of New Media is Twitter which also belongs to the social media category, through which users interact with one another and make announcements to which the public receive. Both Facebook and Twitter have risen in usage in recent years and have become an online resource for acquiring information.
In the 1950s, connections between computing and radical art began to grow stronger. It was not until the 1980s that Alan Kay and his co-workers at Xerox PARC began to give the computability of a personal computer to the individual, rather than have a big organization be in charge of this. "In the late 1980s and early 1990s, however, we seem to witness a different kind of parallel relationship between social changes and computer design. Although causally unrelated, conceptually it makes sense that the Cold War and the design of the Web took place at exactly the same time."
Writers and philosophers such as Marshall McLuhan were instrumental in the development of media theory during this period. His now famous declaration in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) that "the medium is the message" drew attention to the too often ignored influence media and technology themselves, rather than their "content," have on humans' experience of the world and on society broadly.
Until the 1980s media relied primarily upon print and analog broadcast models, such as those of television and radio. The last twenty-five years have seen the rapid transformation into media which are predicated upon the use of digital technologies, such as the Internet and video games. However, these examples are only a small representation of new media. The use of digital computers has transformed the remaining 'old' media, as suggested by the advent of digital television and online publications. Even traditional media forms such as the printing press have been transformed through the application of technologies such as image manipulation software like Adobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools.
Andrew L. Shapiro (1999) argues that the "emergence of new, digital technologies signals a potentially radical shift of who is in control of information, experience and resources" (Shapiro cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). W. Russell Neuman (1991) suggests that whilst the "new media" have technical capabilities to pull in one direction, economic and social forces pull back in the opposite direction. According to Neuman, "We are witnessing the evolution of a universal interconnected network of audio, video, and electronic text communications that will blur the distinction between interpersonal and mass communication and between public and private communication" (Neuman cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322). Neuman argues that new media will:
• Alter the meaning of geographic distance.
• Allow for a huge increase in the volume of communication.
• Provide the possibility of increasing the speed of communication.
• Provide opportunities for interactive communication.
• Allow forms of communication that were previously separate to overlap and interconnect.
Consequently, it has been the contention of scholars such as Douglas Kellner and James Bohman that new media, and particularly the Internet, provide the potential for a democratic postmodern public sphere, in which citizens can participate in well informed, non-hierarchical debate pertaining to their social structures. Contradicting these positive appraisals of the potential social impacts of new media are scholars such as Ed Herman and Robert McChesney who have suggested that the transition to new media has seen a handful of powerful transnational telecommunications corporations who achieve a level of global influence which was hitherto unimaginable.
Scholars, such as Lister et al. (2003), have highlighted both the positive and negative potential and actual implications of new media technologies, suggesting that some of the early work into new media studies was guilty of technological determinism – whereby the effects of media were determined by the technology themselves, rather than through tracing the complex social networks which governed the development, funding, implementation and future development of any technology.
Based on the argument that people have a limited amount of time to spend on the consumption of different media, Displacement theory argue that the viewership or readership of one particular outlet leads to the reduction in the amount of time spent by the individual on another. The introduction of New Media, such as the internet, therefore reduces the amount of time individuals would spend on existing "Old" Media, which could ultimately lead to the end of such traditional media.