Friday, 5 March 2010

New Media

Assessment 1: In this essay I will be using the internet in order to explain why this form of new media is innovative. I will also criticise this claim in various ways.

Gregory Rikowski

Innovation is something which needs to be new and that has a significant social and cultural effects on the society we live in (Mansell, 2009, p.3). New media has a connection with older forms of mediums whilst transforming them into something new (Marshall, 2004, p.2). New media today is based on digital media and refers to technologies such as computers and cameras, whereas old media forms in the past involve mediums such as typewriters and cassette players (Gitezman and Pingree, 2003, p.11).

In this essay I will be focusing on the internet which is a form of digital media that is popular. I will be focusing on ways that audiences engage with this form of media.

Additionally the aim of this essay will be to discuss claims that new media is innovative and I will also be critical of this idea.

One way of understanding new media today is by looking at technology and the effects that it has (Flew, 2008, p.2). A way of understanding new media and the effects it has is by looking at convergence (Flew, 2008, p.2). Because technology is today based on digital information, this means that new media is combined with different attributes (Flew, 2008, p.2). Statistics show that internet users worldwide have been continuously increasing from 1991-2006 (Flew, 2008, p.8). In 1991 there was an estimates 376,000 internet users compared to 2006 where there was an estimated 394,991,609 users (Flew, 2008, p.8).Innovation today means that:

‘‘The ability to invent and innovate that is to create knowledge and new ideas that are then embodied in products, processes and organizations, has always served to fuel development’’ (Mansell, 2009, p.3).

New media today is based on digital media that combines and integrates data such as texts and sounds (Flew, 2008, p.2). One argument for the internet being innovative is that it is networkable (Flew, 2008, p.3). This emphasises computer communication and less on face to face interaction. Because of the internet you can now share and exchange information simultaneously which and you can now contact more than one person at a time. When emailing, for example you can email to more than one person at a time. Social networks like facebook allow you to write on your page so that your friends can see what your thoughts are. More than one person can read your message at a time. Before the internet was introduced this form of communication and interactivity was not possible (Flew, 2008, p.2). It could be argued that this type of communication is innovative because of its new dimensions. Some people however would argue that the use of internet in terms of networking is not innovative because it creates collective confusion and social disorder (Mansell, 2009, p.7). In regard to instant messaging for example you could be talking to somebody on the internet but another person may join in the discussion and interrupt what you have been talking about. It is also possible that when you are emailing to multiple people you could enter the wrong contact in without realising it thus creating confusion.

Another argument used to why the internet could not be seen as innovative is because it uses older forms of medium and so it can be questioned to what extent it is innovative (Marshall, 2004, p.4). In terms to Email for example it could be argued that it has been influenced by the telegraph, an existing old media form. Instant messaging was influenced by letters and text messaging. In order for something to be innovative it needs to be new and creative and the line between what is innovative and imitative can be vague (Mansell, 2009, p.3).

Another way of understanding today’s media in regard to digital media is to realise that it can be manipulable (Flew, 2008, p.3). This means that digital information can be changed easily and that it can be adaptable as well for all stages of creation, storage delivery and use (Flew, 2008, p.3). Ways in which digital media is manipulable and innovative is that it creates a new relationship between the authors and the texts being mentioned (Levy, 1997, p.366). Digital media can be changed and altered and it offers a new form of interactivity with the reader (Flew, 2008, p.3). This creates new forms of interaction and opportunities for participants (Mansell, 2009, p.7). The experience becomes more dynamic and it is more controllable and influenced by the user (The Digital Turn). Whilst searching on Wikipedia for example you may find that when you search for a topic, and when you search for the same thing over a different period of time the results may change. Websites can also be changed overtime and so can images, texts and sounds (Flew, 2008, p.3).

You could argue that the digital media being manipulable is innovative but you could also argue against this claim. For something to be innovative it needs to be original and Walter Benjamin argues that original pieces of work are more special than those which can be copied (Benjamin, 1985, p.680). He argues that mechanical reproduction today means that the concept of authenticity has become less influential (Benjamin, 1985, p.678). The internet for example is a copy and this means that it becomes less innovative because of this.

In conclusion I have discussed ways in which new media is innovative but I have also criticised it because of the fact that it relies on older forms of media (Marshall, 2004, p.4). New media is innovative in some ways because it is networkable. In regard to email you can send one email to lots of different people. One criticism towards the internet being networkable is that it creates social disorder and chaos (Mansell, 2009, p.7).

The internet being manipulable is positive because it becomes more dynamic and creates a new experience (The Digital Turn). It can be negative however because it is a copy which takes away its authenticity and becomes less innovative (Benjamin, 1985, p.678).


Flew, Terry (Edited by), 2008. New Media: an introduction (3rd edition). Oxford University Press, Melbourne.

Gitezman, Lisa and Pingree B. Geoffrey (Edited by), 2003. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Press. London.

Levy, Pierre (Edited by), 1997. Collective intelligence: Mankind’s Emerging World in Cyberspace. Plenum, New York.

Mansell Robin (Edited by), 2009. Power, Media Culture and New Media. University of Bremen, Germany.

Marshall, P. David (Edited by), 2004. New Media cultures. Oxford University Press. London; Arnold New York.

Mast Gerard and Cohen Marshall (Edited by), 1985. Walter Benjamin In Film Theory and Criticism. Columbic University Press. New York.

The Digital Turn: Week 3: University of East Anglia handout.

The Rikowski web site, The Flow of Ideas is at:

Gregory's myspace profile and his blog is at: