Jetpacks, flying cars, and robots ruling the world will be the world of tomorrow. This may sound like your typical science fiction notion where technology overtakes humanity, however, how far off are we from that future? New media retains its place within social culture, it is a form of communication which combines elements from any field and applies it to contemporary life. More specifically, social media has become a virtual space for information. Content is being mass produced by millions every hour of every day. This method of researching information between users can have its perks, as well as its downfalls. New media can be dissected into two forms, arts and sciences. Arts and science seem so tightly wound together that they are almost the same thing. The approach to either field can be similar or completely opposite at times. That is why defining new media today is such a challenge. This is because it is an ever changing concept which may reshape it’s form at any time. This essay will challenge the concept of ‘new media’ and analyze its prospective outcomes for the future. Where different aspects of social and cultural norms are tested against their traditional ways, as well as the evolution these norms must go through in response to the advancement of thinking and technology.
To start, the article by Ben Aslinger and Nina B. Huntemann entitled “Digital media studies futures” is the perfect beginning step into the topic of what new media may be like in the future. This article discusses many questions which arise when addressing the future of media studies. While media in the past has been seen as a particular technology or medium (film or radio for example), media is now evolving into more of an experience, rather than a medium (Aslinger, 9). Because the technologies and methodologies in regards to media are developing rapidly, it would be irrelevant to define any new media as a single medium. One of the greatest debates for the futures of media studies is its relation to academia. In the past, scholars would approach topics with solely a theoretical approach, using case studies. However, because media studies is forever changing, this practice must be changed in order to create a beneficial future for media studies. Aslinger highlights how scholars would learn a specific media, however it would then become obsolete before they complete their studies (Aslinger, 11). In addition, scholars in the past were also taught to direct their focus on a few topics rather than a variety. This style of learning needs to change in order to accommodate the vast expansion of media studies (Aslinger, 12). Studying a single discipline is not acceptable anymore, scholars need to become interdisciplinary thinkers. In short, the old ways of learning simply won’t cut it when it comes to media studies. The collaboration of multifaceted thinkers are now in high demand.
Next we have the article ““Envisioning Nanotechnology: New Media and Future-oriented Stakeholder Dialogue”, where Cynthia Selin and Rebecca Hudson focus on how to deal with the future of possible technologies, in this case, nanotechnology. Even though it applies to this specific field, the questions, concerns, and methodologies addressing the application of preparing for and visualizing the future is relatable to all disciplines. On that note, it can be safe to say that nanotechnology will be a dominant technology of the future because of it’s application, size, and functionality. The entire approach is through the project titled “NanoFutures” where it is a website designed to spark debate, dialogue, and discussion regarding the possible futures of nanotechnology (Selin, 174). The article states that collaboration and participation from external sources (such as non professionals) is extremely beneficial in the development of any field. Where people generate their own respective responses which may give some more insight than if simply professionals were working amongst themselves. Also, technologies are not limited in being shaped by functionality, they can be designed with success through social values. To visualize the future, according to Cynthia and Rebecca, a constructive method would be to come up with many plausible scenarios and see what the impact may be to certain audiences. When it comes to technology, it appears that the future of it may rest on “themes of of human identity, enhancement, and biology” (Selin, 175). NanoFutures posted several possible future technologies on their website (such as a scanner implanted in the body to monitor protein levels to then report if any possible diseases will develop), and the public was able to discuss it. The responses from these users were able to generate dialogues regarding the ethics, costs, applications, and much more without leaving it strictly to the professionals (Selin, 177). It appears to be that the future of technology advancement is deviating from the norms of having a single professional, to the collectiveness of the public. Where the idea of open sourcing technology for advancement can lead to a greater accomplishment than leaving it to be done by a few professionals in the field. Thinking outside the box is the new black.
Analyzing technological advancements cannot be done without looking on the social impact these technologies may have on different cultures. B.K. Ravi, author of “New Media, Culture and Society” evaluates the relations between various forms of media and their impact on different cultures. While this article mainly focuses on statistics relating to India’s development with the media world, the concept of media is challenged as a whole. Because of mobility and the internet, information can be accessed across the entire globe. This results in the convergence of many cultures into one dominant cyberculture (Ravi, 486). As with any reaction, the consequences can be that of positive or negative, depending how you look at it. While information becomes centralized into the virtual space of the web, societies and cultures are beginning to witness a decentralization of commercialization, technology, and control (Ravi, 484). The article has a great way to explain this, where current humans, homo-sapiens, will eventually evolve into “robo-sapiens” (Ravi, 485). Where the controversy behind the advancement of technologies and media is, will technology in time turn against us? That being said, who or what has done the damage (if it so happens) to culture? Would it be the technology itself, or the humans who developed that technology? Can we even blame anyone anymore? The continuous growth of internet participation gives identity a whole new meaning. New media is literally destroying unique identities, where anyone can be anyone posting anything to the world. This article ends on a pessimistic note, suggesting the future of new media might not be as beneficial as we expect. Where giving power to the people, or the anonymous people in specific, will not result in constructive technological and social advancement. The newly anticipated collaboration generation would eventually collapse on itself.
The article “Working the Twittersphere” by Dawn R. Gilpin outlines the application of Twitter in it’s place of the social media realm. More specifically, how Twitter relates to the controversy behind professional and personal online identities. The popularity of this social network allows many perks and shortcomings to arise. Such as professionals using this micro-blogging platform to network themselves with other social media users. With the help of the semantic property of the internet, using Twitter allows the gathering of information to then be analyzed in order to determine Twitter’s influence in the online world (Gilpin, 235). Twitter is unique among the social networks because any user can interact with another. The more Twitter is being used, the more information and resources which can be shared amongst users. The use of social media is difficult to place when discussing topics such as online identity. The article addresses the situation where the line between professional and personal identity is blurred (Gilpin, 233). When it comes to The Guardian’s debate on online identities, it seems to be well fought out. There are many cases which can be used to strengthen both sides. It really comes down to the individual user. Having an authentic online profile can relate the person from the online world to the offline world (Krotoski, Guardian). Which may grant said person jobs and other experiences. That being said, if something can be traced back to their name which may compromise their integrity, that would ruin their reputation online. That is where anonymity comes into play. Allowing users to create, share, and edit with the online community allows them to make faults without being personally blamed. Unfortunately, the internet is very commercialized and having a flow of anonymous users does not generate as much revenue as does a sea of identifiable and traceable users. In relation to authentic online identities, governments could have the solution with proper online IDs. This would lower fraud, and boost the economy online. One minor detail, most users trust their banks for personal information and not their government. Having a government deal with online identities would give it structure and security (Krotoski, Guardian). Perhaps having an agreement between website owners and the government can be achieved. We should not forget that the internet is global and government policies and agendas vary depending on the nation and culture.
These articles above all deal with the possible future and impact new media may have on the world. One looks at the development of technology as open-source, where the public is in control over it’s application. Whereas on the other hand, another evaluates that new media itself will develop into something humans will not have control over. Which may incidentally be true, if you were to really analyze the nanotechnology futures. Most of the plausible technologies addressed in the article by Selin deal with control over human resources with the help of artificial intelligence. The other article would define this as technological advancement which we are no longer able to keep up with. However, each article addresses the issue of the person, the individual. Because these media technologies are developed by us, we do have control over their function for the time being. That being said, it is our responsibility to produce technology that will achieve a responsible and constructive future. Giving power to the people, allowing the public to collaborate with visions and possibilities for the future have time and time again proven beneficial towards the advancement of technologies.
Aslinger, Ben, and Nina B. Huntemann. “Digital Media Studies Futures.” Media, Culture
& Society 35.1 (2013): 9-12. Sage Publications. Web. 15 Oct. 2013.
Gilpin, Dawn R. (2011). Working the Twittersphere: Microblogging as a Professional
identity Construction in Papacharissi, Zizi (2011). A Networked Self. Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites.
Krotoski, Aleks. “Online Identity: Is Authenticity or Anonymity More Important?” The
Guardian. Guardian News and Media, 8 Oct. 2013. Web. 12 Nov. 2013.
Ravi, B. K. “New Media, Culture and Society.” Academic Research International 2.2
(2012): 479-94. ProQuest. Web. 29 Oct. 2013.
Selin, Cynthia, and Rebecca Hudson. “Envisioning Nanotechnology: New Media and
Future-oriented Stakeholder Dialogue.” Technology in Society 32.3 (2010):
173-82. ScienceDirect. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.