Introductory unit


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Introductory unit

  1. 1. INTRODUCTORY UNIT: New Media TechnologiesAIM: Students need to feel confident about how changes in mediatechnology are changing the nature of the relationship between mediatexts and their audiences.Part 1: Web 2.0‘The phrase ‘web 2.0’ describes a new phase of the internet which:Allows us to create material, distribute it to another (and thus share it)and perhaps move closer to the democratic ‘spirit’ of the internet thatits inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, had in mind.’Julian McDougall, OCR Media Studies for AS (2008)One of the writers most associated with this term is David Gauntlett,Professor of Media and Communications at the University ofWestminster. You can read his full article at’s a summary of the key points. The fetishisation of expert readings of media texts is replaced with a focus on the everyday meanings produced by the diverse array of audience members, accompanied by an interest in new qualitative research techniques; The tendency to celebrate certain classic conventional and/ or avant garde texts, and the focus on traditional media in general, is replaced with – or at least joined by – an interest in the massive long tail of independent media projects such as those found on YouTube and many other websites, mobile devices, and other forms of DIY media; The focus on primarily Western media is replaced with an attempt to embrace the truly international dimensions of Media Studies – including a recognition not only of the processes of globalization, but also of the diverse perspectives on media and society being worked on around the world; The view of the internet and new digital media as an optional extra is correspondingly replaced with recognition
  2. 2. that they have fundamentally changed the ways in which we engage with all media; The patronising belief that students should be taught how to read the media is replaced by the recognition that media audiences in general are already extremely capable interpreters of media content, with a critical eye and an understanding of contemporary media techniques, thanks in large part to the large amount of coverage of this in popular media itself; Conventional research methods are replaced – or at least supplemented – by new methods which recognise and make use of peoples own creativity, and brush aside the outmoded notions of receiver audiences and elite producers; Conventional concerns with power and politics are reworked in recognition of these points, so that the notion of super- powerful media industries invading the minds of a relatively passive population is compelled to recognise and address the context of more widespread creation and participation.DISCUSSION / DEBATERead the following materials to consider some of the mainissues in discussion about new media. 2: CONVERGENCETwo of the areas identified in the OCR Guidelines are: 1. The importance of cross media convergence and synergy in production, distribution and marketing. 2. The importance of technological convergence for institutions and audiences.Here’s the two-part definition from the OCR text book:1. Technologies coming together, for example, a mobile phone you canuse as a still and moving image camera, download and watch moving
  3. 3. images on, use as an MP3 player and recorder and access the internetwith.2. Media industries are diversifying so they produce and distributeacross several media – for example, a newspaper with an onlineversion and audio podcasts.Here’s the distinction between Convergence and Synergy distinction here is a difficult one and McDougall tends to blur thetwo terms – convergence and synergy – together.DISCUSSION – Why is it difficult to distinguish between the two.What does this tell us about the ways in which media are comingtogether?ANSWER: 1. Increasingly, convergence creates synergy. By coming together, the separate media forms generate an energy that they could not achieve on their own. 2. In many ways the term ‘Convergence’ has superseded ‘Synergy’ because it is now more difficult to separate out different technologies and think that they are ‘rubbing against each other’. Technologies have converged and are in some senses ‘inseperable’.Come up with examples of Convergence. Apart from their phones whatother technologies could be held up as examples of mediaconvergence?TASK: Students could be given sections of this text to read andsummarise: Why Convergence Matters: down to see the article)DISCUSSION – Q. What has changed? Why is this convergencehappening?Possible Answers-Technology – For the first time, all this is possible.
  4. 4. The following extract is an excellent summary from Wikipedia of theemergence of DIGITAL media. Students need to have a basic grasp ofthe idea of a shared digital language (binary codes etc)Until the 1980s media relied primarily upon print and art analogbroadcast models, such as those of television and radio. The lasttwenty-five years have seen the rapid transformation into media whichare predicated upon the use of digital computers, such as the Internetand computer games. However, these examples are only a smallrepresentation of new media. The use of digital computers hastransformed the remaining old media, as suggested by the advent ofdigital television and online publications. Even traditional media formssuch as the printing press have been transformed through theapplication of technologies such as image manipulation software likeAdobe Photoshop and desktop publishing tools.Andrew L. Shapiro (1999) argues that the "emergence of new, digitaltechnologies signals "a potentially radical shift of who is in control ofinformation, experience and resources" (Shapiro cited in Croteau andHoynes 2003: 322). W. Russell Neuman (1991) suggests that whilstthe "new media" have technical capabilities to pull in one direction,economic and social forces pull back in the opposite direction.According to Neuman, "We are witnessing the evolution of a universalinterconnected network of audio, video, and electronic textcommunications that will blur the distinction between interpersonaland mass communication and between public and privatecommunication" (Neuman cited in Croteau and Hoynes 2003: 322).Neuman argues that New Media: • Will alter the meaning of geographic distance. • Allow for a huge increase in the volume of communication. • Provide the possibility of increasing the speed of communication. • Provide opportunities for interactive communication. • Allow forms of communication that were previously separate to overlap and interconnect.Part 3: AUDIENCES - How has the relationship between audiences and the media changed?
  5. 5. TASK:Students to write an account of an average day of media consumption.What do they use? When? Why?They are to write a second account of an average day for someone ofa different generation (grandparents?). What media do they use andwhy.Students discuss the different ways in which they are now able to be‘creative’ via new media technologies. - in what ways are they active rather than passive? - What significance might there be in being active? What is the impact on the conventional structure of media industries?Having done this, students can decide how much they agree with thefollowing statements: - Audiences are now active rather than passive. - Audiences can also and simultaneously be, producers.‘The question that needs to be answered is: do new mediaforms produce both distinctively different content and‘audiences’ when compared with their predecessors? Theanswer to this question is a qualified yes.’P David Marshall, New Media Cultures (2004)P Csigo suggests that media instututions are no longer interested inkeeping the audience together, but in ‘triggering engagement’ inpeople.‘For media institutions, this imposes key changes: the mediaworld changes from a ‘value chain’ (cultural products made anddistributed to audiences) to a social network (a complexsystem where producers and audiences are mixed up). Anotherway of describing this is the shift from ‘push media’ (whereproducers push media at us and we receive and consume it) to‘pull media’ (whereby we decide that we want to do with themedia and access it in ways that suit us).’Julian McDougall, OCR Media Studies for AS Level (2008)Part 4: DEMOCRACY, ‘WE MEDIA’ ETC
  6. 6. It is also worth considering the way in which we are now activeproducers rather than passive consumers. People make the media.This idea is associated with Dan Gillmor and her book We the Media:Grassroots Journalism by the People for the People. The book is abouthow the proliferation of grassroots internet journalists (bloggers) haschanged the way news is handled. One of the books main points isthat a few big media corporations cannot control the news we get anylonger, now that news is being published in real-time, available toeverybody, via the Internet. The book received widespread praise fromthe demographic it covered, and mixed reviews elsewhere.In the context of the film industry, it is particularly interesting toconsider the impact of DIY home film-making. - have we lost sight of ‘quality’ and is there now more of an appetite for short, ‘cheap’ thrills. - has it helped reduce attention spans and does it mean that students are unable to watch long sustained narrative films - has it renewed and re-invigorated (young) people’s interest in filmsHere are two interesting interesting articles about new media and yourgenerationInternet generation leave parents behindGeneration expects