The new media technologies have been referred to as the communication revolution due to the immense changes they have brought to mass communication and social lifestyles in past decade or so. The expression ‘new media’ has been in use since the 1960s and has had to encompass an expanding and diversifying set of applied communication technologies such the it is somehow impracticable to tell just what the ‘new media’ comprise. As far as the essential features of new media are concerned, however, the main ones seem to be: their interconnectedness; their accessibility to individual users as senders or receivers; their interactivity; their multiplicity of use and open-ended character; and their ubiquity and almost limitless extended located-ness. The new media could be said to have brought a communications revolution because it seems to have brought a revolt against mass communication and all that it used to stand for. The two main driving force of this communications revolution are satellite communication and computer technologies. The key to the immense power of the computer as a communication device lies in the process of digitalization that allows information of all kinds in all formats to be carried with the same efficiency and also in a multiplex. New means of transmission by cable, satellite and radio have immensely increased the capacity to transmit. New means of storage and retrieval including the personal video recorder, the mobile phone, CD-ROM, compact disc, DVD, etc, have also expanded the range of possibilities, and even the remote control device has played a part. The many possibilities of ‘media-making’ (camcorders, PCs, printers, cameras, etc, especially in digital form) have changed immensely the practice of journalism whether print or broadcast, such that the amateur or the professional are being bridged. There are also new kinds of ‘quasi-media’ such as computer games and virtual reality devices which seem to be overlapping with the mass media in their culture and in the satisfaction of use. The communications revolution has being of benefit to traditional media and the audience due mainly to the interactivity that has become possible. What is the nature of convergence?
Convergence is the coming together of different technologies, the fusion of two or more technologies to form something new and different, something that has attributes of each but is altogether unique. The new technologies and products that result from convergence are greater than the sum of the original parts, and the two most powerful and pervasive technologies – information and media are converging. The result of convergence has been called ‘techno-fusion’. What are the differences between the old and the new?
Today the differences between the old and new are difficult to distinguish partly because some media forms are now distributed across different types of transmission channels, reducing the original uniqueness of form and experience in use. Also, the increasing convergence of technology, based on digitalization, can only reinforce this tendency. Thirdly, globalization has reduced the distinctiveness of domestic content and institutions and as such content and practices are becoming global or universal though some are domesticated variants of the global. Nevertheless, there are some clear differences in terms of physical and psychosocial characteristics, in terms of perceived trust and credibility for example. Differences are obvious concerning freedom and control where the new seems to be freer and less controlled especially by government. Secondly, differences are clear concerning what each is good for and the perceived uses by individual audience members.
What is New Media?
New media rely on digital technologies, allowing for previously separate media to converge. Media convergence is defined as a phenomenon of...