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Nalaka Gunawardene - New Media & Old Minds? - Univ of Kelaniya, 25 May 2012


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Presentation by Nalaka Gunawardene (Science writer, Blogger and Media Watcher) at National Media Summit, University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, on 25 May 2012, during session on New Media Policy Challenges and Responses.

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Nalaka Gunawardene - New Media & Old Minds? - Univ of Kelaniya, 25 May 2012

  1. 1. New Media, Old Minds: A Bridge Too Far? By Nalaka Gunawardene Science Writer & Media Watcher Columnist (Ravaya, Ceylon Today) National Media Summit,University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka: 25 May 2012
  2. 2. Coverage… What really is New Media today? What numbers/coverage? Perceptions vs. reality Lessons from recent media history 5 Survival Tips for Information Society! What’s to be done?
  3. 3. What does New Media mean? Itdepends! Many devices, modes, systems Mostly digital Analog-digital hybrids too NEW is a matter of perception!
  4. 4. When Worlds Collide…Mass Media Sri Lanka: Analog media still dominating SL market Digital media rising… Also: hybrid media Global media/ICT trends take time to arrive in SL But delay is shortening…
  5. 5. Global invention & LK arrival…Mass media type or Mass/ commercial start Ceylon/Sri Lanka’scommunications in the world commercialtechnology adoptionNewspapers printed Early 17th cent Colombo Journalwith movable type France, Netherlands 1832Fixed telephone The Telephone Co, UK Oriental Telephoneservices 1879 Co. 1881AM Radio Netherlands, 1919 Colombo Radio Decbroadcasting USA & UK, 1922 1925FM Radio USA, 1937 SLBCs City FMbroadcasting Nov 1989Terrestrial TV USA, 1929 ITN, April 1979broadcasting
  6. 6. Mass media type or Mass/ commercial SL adoptioncommunications start in the worldtechnologyMobile telephone NET, Japan, 1979 Celltel, 1989services (commercial)Email only Internet MAILBOX, MIT, 1965 LEARN, 1990(academics only) ARPANET, 1973Commercial Late 1980s Lanka InternetInternet/web WWW 1990 Services, 1995connectivity (dial-up)Broadband Internet Cable modem service Sri Lanka Telecomconnectivity (higher by Rogers Comm., ADSL, 2002speeds, always-on) Canada, 19963G mobile telephony NTT DoCoMo, Japan, Dialog Telekom Oct 2001 2006First compiled by Nalaka Gunawardene in 2009
  7. 7. A Tale of Two Worlds? This is the way
  8. 8. Media in Sri Lanka:Perceptions vs. RealityTRUE OR FALSE? Radio is still the most widely FALSE! used mass medium in rural SL Internet is an elite, expensive medium accessed by less than FALSE! 5% of Lankans Average Lankan households spend 17 times more on TRUE! telecom & internet services than on books, newspapers and magazines
  9. 9. Household electronic items in SL Radio TV VCD/DVD Personal None of % % % Comput these er % %All 75.4 80.0 35.9 12.5 10.1Sri LankaUrban 76.5 86.9 48.7 23.6 6.4Rural 75.6 79.3 33.5 11.2 10.1Estate 69.4 70.5 39.8 2.2 17.4Sample size: 22,500 countrywide (except 3 N&E districts)Source: Sri Lanka Household Income and Expenditure Survey2009/10 by Dept of Census & Statistics;
  10. 10. Household expenses:More on telecom, less on print/post… When different telecom related expenditures are combined, they amount to LKR 750/month (USD 7) Average LK household spends 17 times more money on telecom & Full discussion on Internet services than on books, LIRNEasia blog: newspapers and magazines LKR 4/month spent on postal ew services by average householdSample size: 22,500 countrywide (except 3 N&E districts)Source: Sri Lanka Household Income and Expenditure Survey2009/10 by Dept of Census & Statistics;
  11. 11. Internet Use in Sri Lanka (TRCSL data)
  12. 12. Mobile phone subscribers in SriLanka: 1991 – 2011 (TRCSL data) This is the way
  13. 13. Fixed Access Phone Growth in SriLanka 1990 – 2011 (TRCSL data) This is the way
  14. 14. How many Internet users in LK? Answer depends on which source & analysis!Telecom Regulatory Commission of SL, at end Mar 2012: Internet & Email Subscribers (Fixed): 375,000 (provisional) Internet & Email Subscribers (Mobile) 711,000 (provisional) Total SUBSCRIBERS: 1,086,000; Total USERS? X 2? X 3? World Stats, quoting ITU as source: 2,503,194 Internet users as of Dec 2011, 11.8% penetration, using ITU statistics, cited in: 1,235,080 Facebook users by end Mar 2012
  15. 15. How many Internet users in LK?“It seems very probable that thenumber of Internet users in SriLanka should be between 2 – 2.5million, but due to the inaccuracyof the available data in Sri Lanka itis not possible to narrow it downfurther.” - LIRNEasia, 29 Feb 2012 also LIRNEasia’s Sri Lanka Broadband Report for InfoDev:
  16. 16. New Media phases in Sri Lanka…DENIAL/ No thanks, we can manage very wellREJECTION without it!SUSPICION/ HELP – This threatens our culture,VILIFICATION religion, children, national security!!!SLOW May be it has some uses after all…let’sACCEPTANCE give it a tryTHRIVING How did we ever manage without this? We have tamed the medium!HOW CAN POLICY-MAKERS MANAGE “SWINGING MOODS”?
  17. 17. Case Study:Parallels with Sinhala Chitra Katha? Called comic strips in English: but not all of them ‘comical’ 1951 Oct: Lankadeepa started Neela by G S Fernando Modelled on Tarzan stories 1952: Susil Premaratne starts another Lankadeepa comic 1954: Lake House Group follows with their own CKSource: Chitra Kathawe Wansa Kathawa by Sunil Ariyaratne, 2007
  18. 18. Sinhala Chitra Katha Evolution… 1950s: Pioneers: Adapting western formats & styles - populist & fleeting; embedded in newspapers 1960s: Innovators: more artists & writers join & indigenise the genre; classical stories (history, religious)  creative story telling 1970s: Entrepreneurs: All-CK newspapers & magazines (‘like printing money’)  bubble bursts!
  19. 19. Who killed Sinhala Chitra Katha? Creators’ failure to adapt & evolve with times Greed of publishers who diluted medium Cynicism of mainstream writers & artists Small size of Lankan market Television’s arrival (1979 )
  20. 20. 3 Phases of a New Media in LK1. Introduction 2. Assimilation 3. Survival Test Arrival & early  Localisation  Novelty wears off adoption by young through language &  Uneven quality & open-minded context and opportunistic Old guard cries foul, entrepreneurs  New creators and cautions against it! users emerge  erode market Policy makers & innovation  Some users & regulators caught by surprise, puzzled  Some try/find ways practitioners lose Business model not to make money interest, drop out clear, usually  Policy & regulatory  Market competition embedded in responses (may be eliminates some existing venture good/bad/mixed) pioneers
  21. 21. LK Policy Response Dilemma:Quick/blundering or Slow/Measured? Policy makers & Regulators:  Struggling to keep up with technology & market  Under pressure from ‘Luddite’ type social activists  Fear of new, unfamiliar, unknown  Having to be ‘seen’ as ‘in charge’/taking action!  Tend to rush in: myopic (even comical) responses Academics must research, analyse & advice But are LK academics thought-leaders in ICT? Soviet-style info/media control is Gone for Good with USSR!
  22. 22. Information Society:Much more than mass media! Who really owns information flowing through telecom/media networks? What safeguards for privacy? Balancing public’s right to know and state’s need to restrict sensitive information Technology standards, inter-operability Cutting across language, gender barriers Issues of cultural identity, integrity, diversity
  23. 23. As Info Soc grows, so does our e-shadow: How many of us realise it?
  24. 24. Mapping cyberspace connections…Visualising Facebook friendships: Map by Paul Butler, Dec 2010
  25. 25. Go out & colonise?“When the web came around in the early1990s, it was first seen as a place for geeks,paedophiles and the military. We had to goin and ‘colonise’ it -- to show what it could dofor social justice & development. Now web 2.0is also being dismissed by some as a placewhere geeks and paedophiles frequent.Maybe. But we just have to go in and reclaimit!”- Anuradha Vittachi, co-founder,OneWorld.net
  26. 26. If WE don’t ‘colonise’ Wikipediawith our content, who will?
  27. 27. Survival Tips for Information Society #1Accept the new transparent world! “WikiLeaks Cablegate is only the latest reminder that we are living in a world where few, if any, secrets can be guarded… Whether we like it or not, welcome to the Global Glass House!” - ‘Open Letter to Sir Arthur Clarke’, by Nalaka Gunawardene,; 16 Dec 2010
  28. 28. Survival Tips for Information Society #1Get used to a WikiLeakable World!
  29. 29. Survival Tips for Information Society #2Harness Geek Power! Info soc created & shaped by geeks: Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, 1,000s more! Very smart people -- but also very individualistic, sometimes anarchic… Can we harness their genius for society’s greater good, not just corporate profits or rebellion? Wanted: Public Interest Geeks (PIGs!)
  30. 30. Survival Tips for Information Society #3Keep an eye on ‘Drivers of Change’ Technology Demographics Consumer behaviour
  31. 31. Survival Tips for Information Society #4Ease up & cheer up! Trend: Informed yet very informal journalism… LESS hierarchical & rigid; MORE relaxed & irreverent Funny & cheeky tone is fine I-Me-Mine first person journalism is perfectly OK GET USED TO IT!
  32. 32. Survival Tips for Information Society #5Beware of ‘New Media experts’! Everything in ‘Beta’ mode Future: An Undiscovered Country (but we can draw map) Can’t future-proof ourselves, but can be better prepared. Try everything, see what works! Watch, emulate, adapt… Finders are keepers in Info Age?
  33. 33. A Choice of Futures… Alarm & Despair: loss of cultural identity; invasion of privacy; data mining by corporations; rise of authoritarianism, death of Anonymity, etc. -- OR -- Cautious Optimism & Hope: always- connected, networked world presents many opportunities to do good in the public interest.
  34. 34. That’s it, folks! Now let’s talk…Email:alien@nalaka.orgBlog: & illustrations used ingood faith. All data sourced.