New Media Memoir (Blog #1)

Emily Beaupré

The first time I remember using a computer I was pretty young. My parents are on the older side and are not particularly computer savvy. The computer in our house was used mostly so my father could write his dissertation to get his doctoral degree in political science. If I was lucky enough to get to use the computer, it was to play Pajama Sam for at most an hour. I began to lose interest in the computer as the levels of Pajama Sam got too difficult. I returned to playing with my dogs outside and watching cartoons. Later on, in about fourth grade, I started to use the internet. It was neither computer games, nor MySpace that brought me back to the PC, it was the dawn of AIM.

On page fifteen, van Dijk states that, “After a period of habituation, the quantity of informal and intimate communications in computer networks increases. Eventually there arises a (sub)culture of electronic communication with new norms, language, and behavior.”

I’d always had trouble in my keyboarding class. I was never particularly interested in typing anything, but the prospect of talking to my friends without having to call them on the phone had me revved up and ready to give this computer thing another go. Things went pretty slow at first, during this habituation stage, I had to actually use what I’d been taught in keyboarding class. Then one day it all clicked, my hands magically knew where to go. My muscle memory kicked in and now I could successfully participate in my online conversations. I quickly became acquainted with instant messaging culture and language like ‘lol’ and ‘omg.’ I learned the difference between ‘brb’, ‘bbl’, and ‘gtg’ along with the standard wait time for each.

As the glossary of emoticons increased, so did my feelings of connection.  I became more involved with my friends because I didn’t have to call their house and ask if Grace and Claire were home, with instant messenger my phone shyness wasn’t a problem. I could talk to my friends about the latest episode of a TV show, just minutes after it had ended. I didn’t have to wait until school the next day to get the scoop on what happened in Degrassi the night before! Learning how to type opened the door to communicating with my friends and that was just the beginning.

On page three, Gitelman and Pingree discuss on page three, “the notion that because of their greater transparency, new media supersede their predecessors…”

While I agree with this statement on the most part, I believe that the idea needs to be developed further. The arrival of instant messaging in its various forms has superseded the telephone despite the fact that instant messaging is arguably not as transparent as a phone call. In order to use an instant messenger like AIM, one had to boot up her computer, type in her username and password, see if a friend was online, and then type out everything she wanted to say. This whole process took about ten minutes whereas calling someone on the phone only takes about two. On the phone, it’s a lot easier to tell how someone is feeling- it’s very transparent, with instant messaging we have to work to interpret emotions and while emoticons help, miscommunication is very common. Still, we prefer instant messaging to a phone call. Perhaps the phone’s transparency is what drives people to use an instant messenger, a medium that allows us more control over how we are perceived. Furthermore, this same reasoning could be applied to the steadfast popularity of instant messaging despite the advent of Skype.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What do you think about the theory proposed in the final paragraph? Do you agree or disagree? Can you think of any other reasons why instant messaging is still popular despite the transparency of phone and Skype calls?
  2. Do you remember when you first heard about or used Google? What was it like?

This article gives some insight into how new media has and has not affected our generation’s values.



One comment

  1. In response to the second question, I remember using google when I was very young but even before that, I remember using Ask Jeeves. I think as a kid, the idea of an actual butler searching the web for me was amusing. When I first used google, I was amazed I could find information on anything or anyone I wanted. I discovered a lot more on the internet once I started using google. I wish I could say I used this for educational purposes or to discover more about the world, but I really was just searching for Hillary Duff fan sites. Now google is so ubiquitious, I don’t even conciously think about using it. It is just a natural response to needing to get information. I wouldn’t even consider using another search engine.

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