Like most people born in the 1990s, nothing brings me more nostalgia than the thought of firing up the unmoving, eye-sore called the Gateway 2000, and plugging in the internet jack anytime we wanted to endure the process of dialing up the Internet (here’s 10 hours of dial up tones for your listening pleasure click HERE). Not a lot of memories from that time of my life are as vivid as playing “Orly’s Draw-A-Story” and “Madeline European Adventure,” or listening to my mom accusingly inquire about the location of the Hallmark Card Studio CD. I still haven’t forgotten that my interpretation of graphic art was the neon green, even spraying of the airbrush tool in Microsoft Paint.
In my early usage of computers, my experience strictly involved what van Dijk would call the space dimension of interactivity. Who would I be interacting with online at the age of seven? Aside from Orly, Madeline, and the occasional dose of Carmen San Diego, my interactivity, especially the degree of sychronicity, was low. Enter AIM and AIM e-mail. These programs incorporated an entirely different facet of interactive communication for me, as a young computer user. The synchronicity of interactive communication skyrocketed. My classmates and I would go home after school and immediately log on to AIM to talk with the same people we had just seen minutes earlier. Conversation was rapid-fire and never-ending. It was from this point forward that I realized I would never be without consistent communication with my friends.
As I grew, more forms of “new media” entered my life: MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. At this point in time, I would still categorize social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook as “new media” based on Gitleman & Pingree’s qualification. “When a new medium is introduced, its meaning—its potential, its limitations, the publicly agreed upon sense of what it does, and for whom—has not yet been pinned down.” Though we are perfectly aware of the function and audience of these sites, are we entirely sure that we can “pin down” their potential and limitations? This article suggests that new media users have not developed a sense of when to stop. It mentions that, “old media,” what they consider television and radio, has been pinned down. It is certainly more predictable and formed than the forms of social media that I would consider “new” for this reason. When will the time come for social media sites to graduate into “old media” based on Gitleman & Pingree’s definition? Though, yes, one of the great things about social media and the World Wide Web is that an individual can post anything he or she wants at any given time, in my opinion, it is this same factor that will keep it from being pinned down. There are no limitations, and this can be both a great and bad thing.