The history of media is really just a history of new technologies. Whether it was going from print to radio, radio to television, silent films to talkies, black-and-white to color, or 2D to 3D technology, each was considered “new media” at one time.
In today’s information technology age, things like social media, blogs, video games, and online news outlets are typically referred to as “new media.” But what exactly does that term mean and how do these new forms of media differ from “old media”?
New media refers to “those digital media that are interactive, incorporate two-way communication and involve some form of computing,” says Robert Logan in his book Understanding New Media. This type of media is “very easily processed, stored, transformed, retrieved, hyperlinked and, perhaps most radical of all, easily searched for and accessed.”
Old vs. New
Some examples of old media are vinyl records, film, television, radio, and print media – but even they can become new media if they contain technologies that enable digital or interactive processes.
One early example of this is Wikipedia, launched in January 2001, which took the concept of an encyclopedia (old media) and produced an online version (new media). Combining internet accessible digital text, images and video with web links, it also welcomed the creative participation of contributors for the benefit of readers.
Like wikis, many forms of new media enable users to be participants. Social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter are prime examples of this. Some other examples are interactive websites, video games, human-computer interfaces, and virtual worlds.
In fact, augmented reality and virtual reality are expected to radically shape the future of new media. For instance, an advanced interface with the ability to “read” the user and enhance or change what content is delivered based on their feedback in real time.
The Future of New Media
New media is changing the way people across the world are entertained and consume information. It has introduced user interaction, and can be customized to fit user preferences, rather than users simply passively consuming media.
Moreover, with the emergence of new media, which is accessible to almost everyone with an internet connection, the traditional power structure of the mass media has been getting eroded.
The media agenda was once largely set by those in power – media owners, producers, advertisers, and political groups – but now the internet has changed the nature of media by enabling consumers to control and even create media of their own.
New media will continue to evolve and have far-reaching implications for society, especially in business and politics.