February 15, 2012

In the academic world of research, trying to stay a head of the curve is a challenge. This challenge becomes harder when looking media. Researchers try to analysis the present while figuring out what the future will bring.  We, this means me and you, are going to explore the academia realm. I have been told that some would consider academia writing boring. Well in my humble opinion, I believe that academia and its work is the art of the intelligence.

In 2001, Steven Chaffee and Miriam Metzger wrote The End of Mass Communication? published in Mass Communication & Society. For an article that is more than a decade old, I found a lot of the content considerably relevant today.

A topic that is highlighted in their paper that I find interesting and will be the main focus today is control. Control traditional media had and having problems letting go as Chaffee and Metzger write opportunities for self-expression once denied by the old media are celebrated by the new media”. They also say that many of the new technologies are more portable and, therefore, more convenient to use compared to older mass media”.

Digital vs. Traditional

Netflix versus Blockbuster

Bring this to 2012 to my favorite example of how business failed to adapt with time, tried to hold on to their control that led to their epic failed: Blockbuster. At the end of 2011, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy. Blockbuster was once popular nationwide video and video game rental store. We [society] have become mobile.

Netflix came along and offered consumers the option of selecting movies from online from their computer and have them delivered to their home. They then expanded to online streaming through Xbox live. Looking at the growth of Netflix, they predominately used word of mouth through its uses and a lot of online advertising. They offered anyone a free month trail with no commitment to use their product afterwards. Netflix also included the added incentive of no late fee.  

Right now, they have apps on iPhone and androids that allow customers to watch any place that has Wi-Fi. For me, this has come handy in soothing my daughter in the car as she gets to watch Veggie Tales on mom’s phone. I don’t have to purchase a portal DVD player when I have my phone that will entertain her while I drive. Now Verizon and Redbox plan to provide some competition for Netflix.

 Jaron Lanier author of You Are Not a Gadget: A Manifest writes “the rise of the web was a rare instance when we learned new, positive information about human potential.” “In vast numbers, people did something cooperative, solely because it was a good idea and it was beautiful”.  Netflix is one of many businesses that have grown due to potential the web provided and is now disbanding the control the “traditional” once had.

Being Alone

Part of control is in understanding how the human mind works combined with how we interact in our environment. Chaffee and Metzger write that with media communication the motivation behind using media is the need for satisfaction and the reason why media affects our ego concept is self-actualization. Sherry Turkle book Alone Together would emphasis this point. Turkle writes the interaction we have is “not what computer do for us but what they do to us, to our ways of thinking about ourselves, our relationships, our sense of being human”.

Turkle shows how we have used and are using media to define ourselves and satisfy our human needs.  So we control the medium of communication and they don’t define us. She highlights how we are not teaching our kids to cultivate the power behind learning to be content with being by one-self and so creating an environment we are constantly seeking ways to stay connected. 

Bringing Up Bebe Book Cover

A co-worker told me about a NPR article they heard about how the French are good parents. This same article was mention in my classes. So I went to NPRs went to the website and found out a bit more information.  A recent book review on Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers The Wisdom Of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman’s, that looks at the French and how they believe that “even babies are rational creatures with the capacity to learn self-control”. Interesting as society is slowly moving the opposite direction and giving lot of power to social media sites.





What has change?

One thing the communication article didn’t mention the deprivation of the English language in the process of communication. As mobile we have become, we have learned to cut sentences in order to get the message across to others.

R u fllwng wht im saeing?

Spell check disliked that question. I have heard a lot of complaints about how people cannot formulate a proper sentence.  I found it funny with some of my friends I can speak “Text” with them and others get really annoyed with any abbreviations in the sentence:” I ❤ u” or “c u l8r”. Text language is invading the way we talk to each other and whether it is a good thing or bad that can be debated upon. Beware this battle is coming.

The adapting to survive


Media Cycle

Lou Heldman

A good example of this cycle is the death of singer/actor Whitney Houston. Twitter announced the news approximately 15 minutes before main stream media started reporting about. I found out on Facebook. I then checked my twitter to confirm the news before going to a traditional media website. I would be the first to admit that the way I gather my news is changing. My dad taught the importance of reading the newspaper to find out what is going on around me. I went to college but couldn’t afford the monthly subscriptions to the Wichita Eagle but I did have internet access. Chaffee and Metzger write that:

“The technologies powering the mass media unshackled communication from the bounds of time and space, thereby enabling for the first time in history instant communication with a large and largely anonymous audience.”

I agree with Chaffee and Metzger that the traditional media which had control of information and its flow before now have to succumb to the power of the internet. The internet truly has the control to reach and communicated with the masses. The present use of media is best explained by Clay Shirky in his book Cognitive Surplus: How Technology Makes Consumer into Collaborators. Shirky writes:

“Media in the twentieth century was run as a single event: consumption. But media is actually like a triathlon, with three different events: people like to consume, but they also like to produce, and to share.”

“Because we are increasingly producing and sharing media, we have to relearn what that word can mean.  The simple sense of media is the middle layer in any communication, whether it is as ancient as the alphabet or as recent as mobile.”

“Our ability to balance consumption with production and sharing, our ability to connect with one another, is transforming the sense of media from a particular sector of the economy to a cheap and globally available took for organized sharing.”

Chaffee and Metzger titled their paper The End of Mass Communication? I believe the appropriate title for this paper is “The Transformation of Mass Communication”. We are learning to communicate and interaction with media as the internet grows. Like a child going through a growth spurt, we have not reached our full potential yet. I would strongly recommend reading this article.  As we move forward, articles like this are going to be the foundation for theories for the next generation.


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