Critically assess the argument that advances in media technologies from printing to the Internet always go hand in hand with major social and cultural changes.
New media is defined as “the forms of communicating in the digital world, which includes publishing on CDs, DVDs and, most significantly, over the Internet. It implies that the user obtains the material via desktop and laptop computers, smartphones and tablets. Every company in the developed world is involved with new media.” (9/1/12 http://www.pcmag.com/encyclopedia_term/0,2542,t=new+media&i=47936,00.asp).
Advances in media technology over the past decade and century have no doubt had a large influence on major social and cultural changes throughout the world, if we look back at what has happened throughout 2011 alone we can already see this is true.
The turn of 2011 showed the revolutionary wave of events in the Middle East known as the Arab Spring. The events that have been happening over the past few years in the Arabic countries has been thought to be largely down to online web-logging and social networking websites. A group of young revolutionists set up a group on Facebook called “April 6 Youth Movement” (9/1/12 http://www.facebook.com/groups/38588398289/) where protests and events were organized. Blogging and social networking was used as a medium of organizing these events as it is a lot harder for the governments of these countries to limit what their people view as it only takes a matter of seconds to duplicate a web page, where as if they see someone handing out flyers or putting up posters they can just arrest them. This social change means it is easier for people to communicate on a large scale, quickly.
However not everybody agrees; Malcolm Gladwell (11/1/12 http://gigaom.com/2011/02/03/gladwell-still-missing-the-point-about-social-media-and-activism/) says that people protested and brought down governments before Facebook was invented. They did it before the Internet came along. Although this is a valid point, it wasn’t the new media technologies that caused these events, but it was these technologies that meant how widespread and quickly news could be passed on. This is due to a large amount of people having access to the Internet, you can maybe fit a few hundred people in a lecture theatre to debate a topic and arrange an event, but with online forums, the numbers are unlimited, thus giving anybody the opportunity to participate and contribute into creating these events. They can also do this without fear of arrest, with the use of proxy servers and VPNs you can make yourself practically anonymous, without the worry of anything being traced back to you.
By the mid 2000’s nearly everybody was using digital photography as opposed to the old film photography that was used in the previous century. This meant photos could be instantly uploaded to a server and shared throughout the world via the Internet, which is much faster and a lot more cost effective, rather than buying a new roll of film, having to use it all up before you can take it to get developed and then have to wait for it. On top of that, this social change meant people can now have near instant fame from their photos due to photojournalism web sites such as Flickr. Previously it could have taken years before a photograph was really appreciated and one would have to hire a gallery, which is expensive to get the exposure they need.
On May 12, 2008, China fell victim to a large earthquake, measuring 7.9 on the Richter scale. The last time there was an earthquake in China, which was in 1976, it took 3 months before the government would admit it to the rest of the world. However, now due to new media technologies, including social networking websites such as Twitter, and the ease of uploading photos through mobile technology (i.e. camera phones and smartphones) the earthquake was reported as it was happening (2011 Clay Shirkey Pg 136 Revolutions in Communication).
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