Saturday, July 22, 2006
New Media replacing Old Media?
New Media is exciting. Blogs, Podcasts, video blogging, YouTube, and the like, are cool additions to the lineup of media variations. I think they are cool, because they provide new and vastly simplified ways of communication, and communication is what media is all about. At the same time, I do not find these things revolutionary. Communication, and thus media, is always evolving. There always is "new media". This is the very nature of the beast. I like change and this is what attracted me to media in the first place, and it is ultimately why EPS now has a publishing division and the CoDe Magazine brand (among others).
I have recently been reading and hearing a lot about the current wave of "new media". "Podcasts are going to revolutionize everything". "Blogs will replace conventional publishing". Similar statements can seemingly be found everywhere these days. And frankly, I just chuckle when I hear these things. Here's why:
New media has rarely every replaced older media. It just does not happen that way. Sure, there are some things that become severely outdated and have been replaced due to the severe limitations they had (smoke signals are not that popular anymore), but by and large, new media just supplements older media. Gestures did not become obsolete because of speech. Speech did not go away because of writing. Books did not replace letters. Radio did not make books go away, and neither did TV kill radio. The media landscape is evolving and the different types of media are influencing each other. People generally prefer watching the Super Bowl on TV rather than listening to it on the radio. But that does not equal "replacement". Radio sure had to adjust when TVs became popular, but on the other hand, the number of radio stations probably has increased since those days.
We will probably see a similar effect with today's "new media". Blogs are great (my obvious opinion... otherwise you would not be reading this on a blog), but they will not make magazines obsolete. I love Podcasts, but really, they are an evolution of radio, a better way of delivery, rather than a replacement. (And like a lot of people, I love Podcasts, but I actually rarely listen to one). Things seem to be even tougher for video blogs. I love to watch short snippets of some funny clip, but I rarely use video blogs or YouTube as a replacement for an evening of entertainment as it is provided by TV or a movie theater. I also do not watch the World Cup finals on a video blog. Everything that is visual (photo or video) has the disadvantage that they require a much higher level of commitment than audio-media. I can listen to a podcast while I work or drive, but the same thing does not work with video.
Interestingly enough, today's "new media" is also highly dependent on the current "old media". Often, blogs are commentaries on other media for instance. In fact, this very blog post was inspired by an article about new media in a printed magazine. Video blogs and other sources of video are often based on TV (Saturday Night Live skits anyone?). Rarely ever does "new media" produce anything original. Sure, original content also exists in new media, but percentage-wise, it is minuscule. A lot of new media today is entirely based on being easy to produce. For an author, a blog is much more achievable than a column in the New York Times. A video blog is much easier to pull off than a comparable job for ABC.
The problem is, creating significant original content is hard. A lot of new media holds itself to significantly lower standards than current "old media". And I do not exclude myself either. This very blog entry is one written in the spur of the moment after reading a related article in print. Had I written an article about the same topic in one of my printed magazines, I would have felt much more compelled to fact-check certain things (I do not know for certain that there are more radio stations today than 50 years ago... but I feel comfortable enough about my believe to put it in writing). The article would have also been professionally edited to make sure that it is free of spelling mistakes and to make sure that what seemed to be a perfectly logical sentence when written doesn't sound confusing when read by someone else, causing a completely different reaction on the reader's side than intended.
But that's OK, because this blog only supplements "old media" and you can go find more information about this in a magazine if you want. Had I had to write this in a real article, I would have probably put it on my list of article ideas and I might have written about it in the future. Or maybe not. But the blog gives me the opportunity to communicate these ideas to you and that is cool. Maybe I can spark an idea in a reader's mind. An idea that would have been lost without "new media". That would be a shame. But then again, maybe the idea will be a silly uneducated one, because it is based on this blog entry of mine that has not been up to the standards I would normally want my articles to be. This whole post might just be plain wrong...
Posted @ 11:12 AM by Egger, Markus (firstname.lastname@example.org) -