Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Highlights Of New New Media

I have taken Paul Levinson’s classes twice in my Fordham career and plan on taking two more classes with him in the upcoming future. There’s just no escaping this guy. I would just like to point out that the preface he wrote was very nice. Knowing that we, the students, have inspired and impacted professors in the way they write, think, and teach makes any class more meaningful and lively and I can certainly see why Communication teachers, like Paul Levinson, would have to change their teaching topics frequently. Unlike other subjects, where two plus two is always four and Columbus sailed to America in 1492, Communication and the technologies involved are always in a state of change. More importantly, the topics in Communications are all relevant and impact the lives of millions even if they are aware of this or not. As students and professors, its our job to bring light to these topics and changes so we can best prepare ourselves and others for the future of Communications.

I feel like this book has a comical, sometimes sarcastic, tone to it, but then again, that’s the kind of guy Levinson is. This book was also intended to be instructional. Levinson is trying to explain to us what the new new media are and how we can best benefit from using them instead of just using this new new media during class while teachers are lecturing.

Its interesting how he didn’t list IPODs and HDTVs as part of his catalog of new new media. I always thought anything digital is considered new new media. However, according to his criteria for new new media, we aren’t producers of IPODs and HDTVs. We only consume them. The fact that we can produce our own media, interact, and receive feedback so fluently, like blogs and Facebook, is the defining characteristic that makes up new new media. In addition, even though new new media comes in various platforms, such as blogging and Youtube videos, we still apply old methods to provide content, such as writing and talking. My question is a concern about whether or not we have allowed ourselves too much power and whether the ability to express ourselves freely is ultimately a good thing.

According to Levinson, the best way for a student to actually learn what new new media is all about is to engage in this media himself. This makes sense on a practical level. I mean, the only way to really learn and absorb anything is through experience and interaction. Its one thing to read about how to operate on a brain, but it’s a whole different experience actually performing the operation. I have great respect for Communication classes in which professors encourage students to do their work in other methods, such as video and audio presentations, blogs, and podcasts, besides a traditional paper. As great as Plato was, these aren’t the Platonic days anymore. This is 2010.

On the surface blogging seems like a wonderful innovation. The ability to have your own free page where you can talk about anything, link up to other blogs, and have them comment on your blogs is great. Even better is the ability to post at whatever time you feel like it and adding pictures, sounds, and video to further make your blog posts stand out. The problems, however, are tremendous. Most people online do not know what they are talking about, are so quick to disagree with others, and a lot of people provide false or misleading information. In addition, a lot of people just flock to those blogs and comments that agree with them. This is what happens when everyone is allowed to have a voice and express it freely; complete chaos. I mean, for all I know there could be people out there reading this who think that what I say is complete nonsense. Even still, I completely agree that it is necessary for everyone to have a voice and express themselves freely. If newspapers have editorial sections where only qualified individuals can be noticed, why can’t those who don’t have connections or are qualified, but not being hired, let out there opinions? As far as making money on your blog is concerned, that doesn’t work well. The support of ads, such as Google, on your blog page makes pennies. If you do manage to make money, certainly don’t expect an income sufficient enough to survive off of it.

Youtube, another form of new new media that Levinson talks about, one ups blogging by allowing videos to be seen on the computer. Videos are tremendously powerful because visuals aid in stimulating emotional responses. Though Youtube hasn’t replaced television, the responses people provide by watching videos on Youtube can sometimes be completely different from the responses those make by watching the same videos on television. Again, because anyone can produce whatever videos they want and put it on Youtube, what you tend to see a lot of on Youtube nowadays are random videos that serve no purpose other than fun or amateurish videos by those desiring to become big in the film industry. I also find people who post old shows from the 90s on Youtube and this really brings me back. In fact, I rarely watch television anymore. The only shows I watch are reruns on Youtube of older shows and cartoons because I miss the 90s that much and shows and cartoons these days can’t top those from the 90s. The problem, however, occurs when certain shows that people put on Youtube get taken off due to copyright infringement. The point is, anyone can be a producer on Youtube and star in his own show, receive feedback from others, and comment on the videos of others, and this is the power that new new media has over older media.

I believe Youtube is direct competition with broadcast television and this argument interests me for various reasons. First, Youtube acts as another outlet for distributing and accessing media which draws eyes away from the television sets. As a result of fewer eyes watching television, rating decline and when ratings decline, advertisers begin to cease paying for broadcasts. This could leave a broadcast network in disarray. In addition, once a user subscribes to You Tube, he can post anything on You Tube he desires for free, whether it is a personal video or a television rerun from years ago, as long as it does not contain extreme indecency (which is purely subjective.) Indeed, every show I looked up on Youtube, whether primitive or recent, I was able to find for free. This endangers broadcast television because this poses the question of why advertisers should have to pay to support shows on the networks when the public is simply posting these shows to be accessed on You Tube for free? The primary reason for the writer’s strike occurred as a result of the writers of broadcast television shows feeling underpaid and wanting to profit from the shows they helped create being aired on outlets like Youtube. This raises issues of how the networks should distribute the money if there is even any money to distribute. Finally, Youtube calls into question the very notion of what broadcasting is. Traditionally, broadcast television has been thought of as the major networks sending content over the air to as many eyes as possible. Youtube is a new type of personal broadcasting and while its not going over the air, the content of Youtube is still reaching as many eyes as
possible. Therefore, Youtube is stealing away those who traditionally sat in front of a television set and broadcast television must learn to somehow adjust and deal with this new form of accessing media or risk losing viewers and advertising in the future.

Wikipedia, another form of new new media that Levinson talks about, is probably the primary example of how easy it is to acquire false information….but is it really? I’ll never forget when a Professor at Fordham told me that the amount of false information reported on Wikipedia is equal to the amount of false information presented in the famous Encyclopedia Britannica. The ability to see just how many times an article has been edited or updated on Wikipedia obviously should lead one to suspect just how legit the information is. Another problem with Wikipedia is that the sources behind the articles are tough to cite, if there are even any sources present in the article to begin with. When I write research papers, I always pick EBSCO over Wikipedia for the simple reason that EBSCO has its articles cited whereas Wikipedia articles are tough to cite. I don’t believe Wikipedia is the reason that libraries are unnecessary because Wikipedia doesn’t contain books in the way a library does. However, ever since I discovered EBSCO and other online journal articles, I have not stepped foot in a library because articles that I need can be easily researched and accessed online from the comfort of my own home.


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  2. I blogged about some of the same points and really enjoyed his ideas on having students engaged in new media to fully understand it. It makes sense.

    The preface was also a nice touch. Nice to know that professor's appreciate student's input and ideas.

  3. Wikipedia is subjective. At times, I have found badly classified information, so I wouldn't really trust it much, but it does serve it's purpose. I still use my Grolier New Book of Knowledge Encyclopedia; it works for me! Peace out...

  4. Unlike many other subjects, where the subject matter does not change dramatically from one year to the next, the media landscape is constantly evolving and often shifting radically, and if nothing else, it keeps us on our toes, and means we communication scholars have to work harder than our colleagues in other disciplines, at least if we want to be relevant. And we learn a tremendous amount from our students. It's a bit of a cliché to say that us old folks are digital immigrants and our students are digital natives, but there is some truth to that. Certainly, I've learned about the centrality of Facebook today from my students, at the same time that I've tried to get them to broaden their horizons to other social media such as Twitter.