My first memory of using the Internet is of visiting Disney Channel’s website, http://disneychannel.disney.com/, to play the online games. The games I used to play as a pre-teen included characters and story lines from various Disney Channel shows that ran in the early 2000’s such as Kim Possible, Lilo and Stitch, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, and many more.
As I played these games, the Disney Channel website would prompt me to send a “shout out” for other users of the website to see. If I wanted to, I could send a comment about the game I was playing and hope that it would be posted. This was probably the first time I experienced interactivity in new media. Although it was nowhere near as interactive as social media today, I still experienced a level of connectedness with Disney Channel and other players.
The option to send a shout out is also an example of democratic new media. By sending a shout out, I could write any opinion or statement about the games (as long as it was kid friendly, of course). Taking a step back, we can see that the evolved democratic characteristic of new media has given Internet users a voice and with that voice they can say anything they please. These voices shape other Internet users’ opinions and even world views.
Bailey Socha and Barbara Eber-Schmid in their article titled “Defining New Media Isn’t Easy” state that new media enables “the average person to engage in political, cultural, social, and economic action” (http://www.newmedia.org/what-is-new-media.html).
Obviously, a single shout out from a young girl playing Disney games isn’t going to change society’s world views. But, new media had to start somewhere, didn’t it?
Anyway, whether my shout out would be chosen to be posted on the Disney Channel website was out of my control. But back then, the fact that I had a chance to have my own idea or opinion posted was good enough for me. Would Internet users today take the time to send a message that may or may not be posted? (Even if it was going to be posted by a reputable company, such as Disney, with a large audience?) How has the use of interactivity and democracy in new media evolved?
By Sarah Erickson