Assessing Implications Of New Media
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Assessing Implications Of New Media



Guest lecture for Axel Bruns' New Media Technologies unit, 4 August 2008

Guest lecture for Axel Bruns' New Media Technologies unit, 4 August 2008



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Assessing Implications Of New Media Assessing Implications Of New Media Presentation Transcript

  • Assessing the Implications of New Media Guest Lecture KCB202 New Media Technologies Professor Terry Flew Media and Communications Creative Industries Faculty
  • Why Do You Need to Know This?
    • History of ‘old’ media tells us something about ‘new’ media
      • Long-standing utopian/dystopian assumptions about technology
        • ‘ cyberspace myth’ (Mosco) - promise of an alternative reality
        • Technology out of control (Frankenstein, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner , Terminator films)
      • ‘ Lag’ between introduction of a new technology and its broader social implications can be up to 50 years e.g. electrification and modern industry, cities and commerce
    • Three levels of ‘new’ media (Lievrouw and Livingstone)
      • Artefacts and devices (technologies themselves)
      • Communications practices (how we use them)
      • Social and institutional arrangements that support and enable them
  • Beware the Hype
    • Early enthusiasm about new media was overblown (‘cyberbole’ - Steve Woolgar)
      • “ the digital age cannot be denied or stopped” (Negroponte)
      • “ the death of television” (Gilder)
      • “ creation of a new civilisation” (Dyson et al .)
    • But so is the counter-hype (‘the emperor’s new clothes’)
      • “ life in the real world is far more interesting” (Stoll)
      • “ Californian ideology” (Barbrook and Cameron)
      • “ the deification of technology” (Poster)
    • Need for a “new empiricism” (Silver; Flew):
      • critical examination of past, current, and future developments
      • based on clear evidence for what is really happening
      • plus forward-looking development projects exploring new opportunities
      • (Flew 39-42)
  • Internet positives and negatives (DiMaggio et. al. , 2001)
  • Five rules of virtuality
    • Both uptake and use of new media are critically dependent on non-ICT factors (age, employment, income, education, gender, nationality)
    • Fears and risks associated with new media re. unevenly socially distributed esp. around security and surveillance
    • ‘ Virtual’ interactions complement, rather than supplement or replace, ‘real’ activities
    • More scope for ‘virtual’ interactions acts as stimulus for face-to-face interactions
    • Global communications creates demands for localism and ‘real’ experience
    • (Flew, 2008, p. 37)
  • Beyond Technological Determinism
    • Diffusion of Innovation (from Wikipedia )
    • Technological developments only part of the full picture
      • socioeconomic factors also affect technology adoption
      • technologies are reshaped as people begin to use them
      • new systems of knowledge and meaning can emerge in the process
      • (Flew 42-46)
  • Classic ‘new media’ debates
    • Marshall McLuhan ( Understanding Media , 1964)
      • ‘ the medium is the message’
      • Media influence not only what we think but how we think
      • Many of the changes associated with media are imperceptible
      • Internet: key is not what is on it but how it ‘networks’ us
    • Raymond Williams ( Television: Technology and Cultural Form , 1974)
      • Technologies are socially shaped by relations of power, conflict and control
      • Technologies develop in different places in different ways
      • Huge corporate and government investments in controlling new media
      • Jonathon Zittrain, The Future of the Internet, and how to stop it
      • Link
  • Impact on Identity and Social Relations
    • Implications of new media:
      • use of new media for communication, networking, community
      • younger users seen as ‘digital natives’ (Prensky) of the new media environment
      • understanding of user groups as ‘virtual communities’ (Rheingold)
      • playful creation of online identities (Turkle) with meaningful social lives
      • move beyond ‘virtual’ / ‘real’ distinctions
      • new media as cultural technologies, affecting our culture and identity
      • “ Time and space, body and mind, subject and object, human and machine are each dramatically transformed by practices carried out on networked computers” (Poster)
      • (Flew 49-54)
  • Political Economy and Cultural Studies
    • Political economy:
      • focus on economic and industrial dynamics
      • relating economic power to political influence
      • highlighting inequalities of access to technology
      • sceptical of potential of new media for social transformation
    • Cultural studies:
      • focus on active role of audiences and resistance to corporate domination
      • pointing to the political power of dispersed community dynamics
      • highlighting user-led new media phenomena
      • optimistic about the ability of new media to transform society
      • (Flew 54-57)
  • Further Reading
    • Nicholas Carr, “Is Google making us stupid? What the Internet is doing to our brains”
    • The Atlantic Online, July/August 2008
    • “ Never has a communications system played so many roles in our lives—or exerted such broad influence over our thoughts—as the Internet does today. Yet, for all that’s been written about the Net, there’s been little consideration of how, exactly, it’s reprogramming us. The Net’s intellectual ethic remains obscure.”