Week 2 Discussion

by: Chelsea Kuchik

Readings Summary:

This week’s readings primarily focus on defining “New Media.” Gitleman and Pingree remind us in “What’s New About New Media?” that every media was once new in its heyday. Therefore, to fully understand the “newness” and function of New Media today, we must first understand its predecessors, and how our new media defines itself among these established older media. This process of divorcing itself from “old media” and expanding our communicative abilities has a great historical and cultural significance in terms of how new media has shaped communities. The authors point out that the emergence of new media has a vast majority of people believing in two futurological tropes: supercession, or vanquishing of “old media” (ex: books will go away forever now that there are eBooks), and transparency, or the assumption that each new technology frees us from the constraints of previously inadequate media forms. Gitleman and Pingree see media as an overall endeavor to improve on human capabilities, but because it is constantly growing, changing, and updating, it is a “moving target” that is not easy to define.

While not easy to define, Van Dijk defines New Media (which he also calls multimedia, interactive media, and digital media) with four characteristics:

  1. Integration – communicating through a single medium
  2. Interactivity – the sequences of action and reaction experienced
  3. Digital Code and Hypertext – bringing uniformity and introducing a nonlinear “revolution” to media where it links to other forms
  4. Information Traffic Patterns – structures of communication and how different mediums communicate

Van Dijk continues to explore how media relates to those who use it, discussing how new media tries to mimic but still cannot completely capture elements of face to face communication. For example, certain media block the ability for others to pick up on non-verbal context clues. We try to take our identities with us online, but it depends on a certain criteria of communication capacities to decide how well the media functions.

Discussion Questions:

  • What makes media “new”?
  • What are some historical examples of “new media” of their time, can we see echoes of these media forms in the “New Media” we have today?
  • What makes media more or less successful?
  • Does media adjust to fit humans or do humans adjust to fit media?
  • Is media making us more or less social?
  • Does the government have the right to police the internet?

Main Ideas:

  • “Old Media” vs. “New Media”
  • What is “Newness” and how can it be measured?
  • Futurological Tropes
  • Risk and Potential of New Media
  • New Media’s effect on communities
  • 4 Characteristics of New Media
  • Approaches to mediated communication
  • Media Richness and Social Presence in New Media

Additional Readings:


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