The Next New Thing

 

To be quite honest, I cannot think of a new form of new media that has not been introduced as of yet. From social networking to virtual worlds, emails, file sharing, and the various other forms already out there, new media covers a wide basis as to what it can currently do. There is almost nothing you cannot do online via a new media source that isn’t presently available. There is, however, an emerging field that I think can be greater aided and popularized within new media – opinion based/review orientated sites especially in relation to pets.

 

People love their pets to wild extremes. From buying stroller like carriages to alleviate a tired dog to strapping female dogs into pampers for their less than best days, people truly and deeply care about their pets. Hence, I think (and I have seen more and more in daily happenings) that people would love to be able to share more than just a potty stroll with their pets. Similarly, people love to comment and get their opinions heard. Sites like Yelp.com and even social networking sites prove this prevalence of being heard.

 

Thus, I think if we were to combine the two – think a smartphone app that finds and reviews pet friendly eateries, stores, hotels, etc –  we would have a perfect match. People would get exactly what they want and that is ultimately what they look for in new media.

P2P File Sharing

File sharing, according to Techopedia, is the ‘practice of sharing or offering access to digital information or resources, including documents, multimedia (audio/video), graphics, computer programs, images and e-books [to other persons]’. This can be done via memory sticks and is as simple as me saving something on a USB and handing it to someone else. P2P file sharing, on the other hand, uses another medium of transport. P2P, or peer-to-peer, file sharing uses specific networks to exchange whatever data is being traded so that the whole process becomes effortless, which, like with most things in new media, can be good or bad.

 

The New York Times article titled “Digital Pirates Winning Battle With Studios” shows an example of how P2P file sharing generally works and what can be the consequences of this. P2P file sharing is easy, and hence consistent with new media, in that it gives the masses exactly what they want. Looking to watch the latest Batman movie without spending $30 on a time and some refreshments? There’s a website for that. What about searching downloading that song you can’t get out of your head but will probably be old news within a week? Another website for that too!

 

Furthermore, as the article, shows P2P file sharing has become so popular that even though it is costing companies big bucks it is becoming more established and accepted. Companies see that they cannot do much against individuals who take part in this culture (shut it down? we’ll open another one under a different server in a different country. looking to legally persecute us? how do you even know who we are?), thus they face no choice but to accept the fact that they cannot wholly rid themselves of P2P file sharing networks and at least hope to get some popularity for their works.

Privacy & Confidentiality

Privacy and confidentiality are related to new media in that it seems that the more new media grows the less privacy and confidentiality we have. Privacy, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is the ‘quality or state of being apart from company or observation’ while confidentiality is ‘marked by intimacy’. Thus, while I do believe that we willingly (though sometimes not really thinking about it)  give up our right to privacy with new media, we do not always do the same with confidentiality.

When we post anything, from food choices to inspiring quotes, or create avatars we are giving up our right to privacy. We are not choosing to be ‘apart from company’ but rather encouraging social interactions through likes, comments, and one-on-one chats. Furthermore, no one is forcing us. Is it really of essence that everyone else know you went grocery shopping today and found a funny looking pear? How, other than social interactions, are you benefiting from posting this on your account? Privacy is the cost of posting and we accept it gladly.

Confidentiality, on the other hand, is a bit trickier. With more popularity and easy access spread among new media our confidentiality has also shrunk. Employers can now look into your personal accounts, not meant for professional networking, and make judgment calls solely based on your profile picture. Moreover, family members who insist on being your friend on these sites can also view things you might not necessarily want them to view. So where is the intimacy line drawn? Views and interactions from authorized persons is fine, you picked them, but what of unauthorized uses?

New media has made the world smaller in that everything is more instantaneous and readily available to us but by that same coin we should also realize the pitfalls. As soon as you create a social networking account or an avatar or even send an email, you are entering territory were all is fair game. Your message will be received by the intended party but also has the possibility of getting into hands you didn’t predict or want. Thus, new media affects our privacy and confidentiality.

Creativity and New Media

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For this homework assignment I decided to create an avatar thinking it would be the simpler and less time consuming option to making a YouTube video. Boy was I wrong. Creating an account on Second Life in itself is very time consuming (plus their site runs really slow). After entering some personal info like email address, DOB, and picking an avatar I was asked to download the program in order to customize my avatar. This right away annoyed me. I hate downloading unnecessary programs on my laptop especially when I am never going to use it again. Then, after finally seeing there was no way around this download business, I had to run the program to customize. That took FOREVER. Not sure if its that wifi’s fault or the program (although I did try running other sites which worked just fine) but that got me even more annoyed. Anyway, when I finally got on the program and was trying to change my avatar’s clothing, I also kept getting pop ups about upgrading to the paid version of Second Life. Um definitely not. … 

So all in all, what you see above is product of frustration and maybe 10% reflective of me. 

Creativity

New media fosters creativity in that it allows users with extremely simple ways of expressing themselves. For example, if a consumer has a comment or opinion on a particular product/service what can they do? Back in the day, they might have perhaps been patient enough to write letters to the manufacture, the producer, and even the local newspaper so that his/her story could be heard. Today this is all very different. A simple posting like ‘[Brand name]  sucks’ can go a long way. And that is one of the least creative ways. Sites like Youtube, Instagram, and  many more allow users to express themselves in so many other ways than just writing or typing.

 

The article from The New York Times titled “Disney Tolerates a Rap Parody of Its Critters. But Why?” is just one example of people using new media creatively to express themselves. Although it is not so much an opinion of Disney’s works, the videos created by the users mentioned in the article are forms of expression. These postings are creations of users who found humor in linking family-known animated characters with polar opposite songs like those found in rap. They are communications that probably took an hour to make and became an instant sensation. Thus, we can see how new media facilitates creative expression thereby promoting creativity on the whole.

 

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Modeling Reality with Virtual Worlds

Virtual worlds were created as an alternative to reality. Whether users are trying to escape from real life troubles, like the autistics mentioned in the CNN iReport “‘Naughty Auties’ battle autism with virtual interaction”, or users are seeking to create another whole world, virtual worlds provide the freedoms that reality restricts. However, as with most things in life, virtual worlds can be used for both good and bad.

The virtual world created by David Savill within Second Life is an example of the good. As mentioned in the CNN iReport referenced to earlier, Savill’s virtual creation allows people with autism spectrum disorders to combat at least one of their many woes – social interactions. Simple things that are so common to us, like talking and even looking non-aggressively at other people, are difficult to grasp for people with ASD. They feel anxious, threaten, and overall do not understand the norms that we as a society have built. Hence, with the use of this ‘fake’ world, they can experiment and be part of social interactions with others without fear of being disciplined for making mistakes.

The Second Life painted by Republican Senator Mark Kirk, however, shows an example of the bad. According to article published by the Chicago Tribune titled “Second Life could sexually exploit children via Internet, Rep. Mark Kirk says”, Senator Kirk is a strong voice urging people to be ware of virtual worlds. As he says, virtual worlds can be a playground for predators looking to fulfill their sick fantasies with children. Just like the Auties in the above example can use Second Life as a safe haven for interactions, predators can easily also use Second Life to carry out horrendous acts. Hence, we can see how the creativity of the users can either drive virtual worlds to be used for good or bad.

All in all, I think that the future of virtual worlds looks very similar to its present. Obviously there is a wide variety of demand for these escapes and so they will continue to exist. I don’t think they will grow exponentially as they don’t seem to be as popular as say other forms of new media yet they are present. Thus, while I myself would not use a virtual world, I believe that others would and do and so its presence will remain for good or bad.

Social Networking Sites

Here we go, another post commenting on social networking sites — We all know these sites for their tremendous popularity among all kinds of people. No matter what age, race, creed, or orientation, 99.99999% of the human race seems to be hooked on at the very least one social networking site. But which one is the best? In comparing Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, my personal opinion is that Facebook outshines all the previously mentioned.

Myspace is outdated. While it was very well known and favored during its height, Myspace today is a thing of the past. Its user-friendly customization options were great (although very time consuming – what song should I play today? is it time to update my layout? who should I put in my top eight?) but they got old. Facebook came into the picture and Myspace had no choice but to step aside.

Twitter, on the other hand, is still very popular. Yet it does not compare to Facebook’s functionality. You can do far with Facebook than with Twitter. Video chats, for example, are a great feature that Facebook has come to incorporate for its users while Twitter is still behind.

And finally, LinkedIn. LinkedIn is great with connecting people and being the leader in its niche but that about sums it up. Professional job networking, searching, and even recruiting are done via LinkedIn but you would never imagine putting up a post saying ‘wow am I wasted’ in LinkedIn. That is just not its purpose.

Thus, for being multifunctional, attractive, and fitfully tailored for its users, Facebook wins.

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Social Networking

Social networking sites are extremely popular among all ages. Whether it be teenagers, grandparents, and even babies and pets, nearly every single individual that has a computer or smartphone has at least one social networking site to which they regularly update. And there is good reason for this. Social networking sites are highly useful. As the NPR article “Social Networking Technology Boosts Job Recruiting” states, social networking can be used for a wide variety of purposes including job recruitment. No longer are recruiters limited by their own personal contacts or by the scope of applicants that apply for any given position, now recruiters can actively use sites like LinkedIn to find thousands and thousands of candidates of their own choosing. Furthermore, when used in a more traditional sense, like displayed in the New York Times article “Being There”, social networking sites can also be used to unwind. Sites like Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter provide a unique space where one can write anything from food choices to description of emotions and activities and even leave general open-ended questions. Thus, as they can be very versatile, social networking sites are attractive to almost anyone and everyone thereby also making these same people susceptible to the downfalls of social networking. Concepts such as loss of privacy (now everyone knows what you are doing and even what you are eating) and information overload can overwhelm consumers and show the drawbacks of technology. Hence, all in all, although I think that social networking are not as great as one might reference them to be, it is also a fact that social networking sites are very likely a big part of our futures. Our obsession and addiction to these sites and dependency on their usefulness make it hard for me to foresee a sudden change in cultural attitude. In fact, as time progresses, I feel social networking sites will continue to be adapted to even more useful uses and so our  habits will continue to grow. 

The Downfalls of Social Networking Sites

Social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, have become extremely popular in today’s society. Teens, adults, grandparents, little kids, and even babies and pets are now contributing (willingly or unwillingly) to the growth of one of the biggest trends in social media. Yet in the same areas that lie the perks also rest the downfalls. Consequences such as cyberbullying/cyberstalking, addiction to these sites, and a great loss of personal privacy have risen out of this popular craze. My term paper for this class aims at looking at these situations in more detail. 

 

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