Mixed Media Creative Critical Essay
Network literacy is an applied knowledge, where the best way to understand is to learn through experience. With control of a personal blog, I discovered that only by submerging myself within the realm of networked media could I fully comprehend what it meant to be network literate.2 By creating posts, embedding videos, incorporating folksonomies 3, linking online social media presences, relaying others’ opinions as well as forming my own, a personal appreciation for networked literacy developed. It became evident immediately that to be profitably involved meant being not only a viewer of online media, but a creator too.
Within today’s “online, networked, information economy, participants are not simply passive consumers, but active users” (Bruns 2008, 23). For me to excel as a future multimedia expert, with a deep understanding across multiple mediums, I must adopt the approach of a “productive user” in the “hybrid position” between producer and consumer (Bruns 2008, 23). The Prosumer theory is “based on a principle of inclusivity, not exclusivity” where all participants have an “equal ability to make a worthy contribution” to a project. (Bruns 2008, 24). This is a stance that I share, as demonstrated by the attitude presented in an early blog post; “Unlike print literacy, where it was a strict two-way relationship between the reader/consumer, and the book/information, networked media allows for consumers to act as peers to one another.” (Bryce 2014b). Learning how the Networked Media world works does not require extensive reading, but rather being involved. In the interactive online environment, I will get out what I put in, benefitting specifically from networking and collaboration which will develop industry associations. The particular nature of the Internet is interactive, and as such what I contribute must be in recognition of other online users.
This notion of users working together allows for constant evaluation and progression. Hypertext and the interconnectivity of the online medium have paved the way for significant development for media personnel; being the ability to compare, correlate and share content with ease. Through comments on blog posts, communication on social media platforms, and responses on public media sharing sites such as Youtube and Soundcloud, anyone can give feedback and receive it. Even if someone doesn’t distribute their own content, they still have the opportunity to be involved through comments and similar means. Take a video on Youtube for example, where unrestricted multi-way communication (not 2-way like that of the reader-author relationship) still takes place by any commenter responding to any other commenter. In an education context, “students can easily compare themselves with one another… [which] is a wonderful way to judge yourself and improve.” (Bryce 2014b). This approach is additionally advantageous to my forthcoming career, acting as a tool for creative content inspiration. Therefore, content must be created and distributed with the knowledge that it is public, not only viewable by fellow students or peers, but to each member of the online multiverse. As a Blogger, I must develop the skill of “learning how to write with awareness that anyone may read it” (Bryce, E 2014b). As Marshall McLuhan declares, we must learn to utilise and prosper from “The interactive and instantaneous possibilities of new communication technologies” (Freedman 2002, 428)
If technology is merely an extension of man (Freedman 2002, 428), then online interaction is merely an extension of our natural communicatory instincts that have been adapted to modern technology. Online collaboration is pivotal in understanding the constant changes that hypermedia undergoes, because “technologies, like rivers and streams or developments in the arts, also flow” (Murphie, Potts 2003, 34). I must be prepared to constantly adapt to online technologies, as “They are produced by particular contexts and change as these contexts change”, whether it be social, cultural or political. (Murphie, Potts 2003, 34). The Hypodermic Needle/Magic Bullet theory is no longer relevant within the contemporary media ecology, where emphasis is on mass interactivity instead of one-way communication. Therefore it is imperative to develop trust networks; a cooperative set of contacts to provide support. To form the most effective network requires presenting myself in an appropriate manner that attracts those who I intend to work with. But what is deemed as appropriate? It is dependant on the reception context as well as objective. If, for example, one is creating children’s entertainment material, a more colloquial style, with eccentric elements may be used. In contrast, someone who aims to produce newspaper editorials about current affairs must create a professional and educated façade that would be recognised by the media industry sector they intend to join. This reputation is not instantaneous, and must be created over a period of time. Therefore it is important to maintain the particular manner across various online platforms, particularly social media, where it is common for employers to conduct background checks. When we consider that “technology use is directly influenced [by] social networks, and social networks are directly influenced by technology use” (Williams, Durance 2008), it becomes crucial to form such connections in order to keep up with changing technologies 4. 5
Since online media is constantly updating and improving, we must all continuously acclimatise to these enhancements. There is a regular need to update skills, as regardless of cultural and social impact, technologies will continue to develop (Freedman 2002). Cameras, sound recorders and computers will constantly improve, thus it is primarily essential for me to comprehend the fundamental techniques of each medium, to later be used in cross-media strategies, rather than prioritising adapting to each new software or update. The theory of Technological Determinism, which suggests that technology is self-developing, also provides opportunity for the purpose of the technology to be altered after its initial release. The 3D printer is a suitable example; originally created for artistic and mechanical purposes, but now being used in alternate fields such as biomedical engineering. Because of constant development, engagement in learning is unavoidable in the digital world, thus I must be open-minded and accepting of renewing systems. This can feel like more time is spent learning than doing, which in a non-stop improvement process is often true. However this is not necessarily a setback, as it maintains brain functionality, allows for questioning, and entices critical analysis of the media.
What exactly is the media? It is the “agent of social change” (Murphie, Potts 2003, 11) and the body that now conditions our existence. 50 years ago, media distribution was limited to industry oligopolies (such as Paramount, Warner Brothers, etc). The rise of VHS meant the temporary fall of cinema, while today the Internet and streaming media sites again detract from traditional communication methods. The modern media era has witnessed the merging of cinema and long-distance communications, into Television and its online developments. Media has converged and will continue to do so to higher degrees. Contemporary media culture has developed the type of user who possesses an “obsession with exposure” (Murphie, Potts 2003, 15) and whose actions aim to feed that obsession. Since distribution is now global and immediate, “electronic media are far more accessible to people of all ages” (Murphie, Potts 2003, 14). 6 Thus media consumption is ultra-simplistic “unlike literacy, which demands the lengthy acquisition of reading and writing skills” (Murphie, Potts 2003, 14). Therefore, I as a multimedia creator need to consider audience in a different way to that of traditional print media. The fact is, in most modern cases, there is no choice of audience or who consumes a product, because Internet access is unrestricted. In order to have the greatest reach and influence, it must impact on not just some target markets, but all. Creating multiple versions of the same product in order to appeal to various audiences, such as culturally dubbing films, is an advantage in current and future digital environments.
As audience restrictions have been lifted, so have the regulations for creation of media-related material. “The limit of content – words, images, photos, videos – is only restricted by [the creator’s] own imagination and self-perceived boundaries” (Bryce 2014a). “The mechanisation of writing [that] began with the printing press in the fifteenth century” (Bolter 1991) has evolved, as unlike print, modern writing is not limited by the amount of ink in a pen and the size of the paper. The Internet and new media is now dominant, but “as a whole, and over a lengthy period, old media have found ways to survive in the presence of new media” (Randle 2001). As a result, to succeed within the media sector is not only to excel at new media, but to maintain familiarity with traditional forms too. Even though new media is claimed to “displace” old media, the pair can also be complimentary, with computers, for example, which allow “publishers [to] be better informed in making strategic decisions, [and] scholars [to] be more prepared to examine theoretical issues” (Randle 2014). The positives that new media provide are numerous, exampled by simpler communication and increased time efficiency. Benefits such as these should without doubt be capitalised, as they will allow me to improve personal creative projects, as well as form a first-class reputation and network. However it is important for me to remember the origins of the technology, and understand their processes, as in fact “Continuity and change are… both necessary” to thrive within media (Williams, Durrance 2008)
Rupert Murdoch – How Technology Has Changed the Media
The influence of digital technologies in the 21st century is undeniable. It is the “driver of history” (Freedman 2002, 428) and possesses unquestionable impact, “chang[ing] the world into which it is born.” (Freedman 2002, 427). Within this contemporary media ecosystem, knowing how to best utilise new media is crucial. The only way to gain such intelligence is through experience. It is through being able to comprehend the continuous changes, and form a credible and trustworthy online network, which sets the foundations for us to take networked media and make it malleable for our own desires. Moreover, to personally prosper as a future multimedia creator.
- I have attempted to create a colour coding system that relates the essay task to my personal content. The highlighted section colour of the brief correlates to the matching text colour within the response. I thought it would be a unique way of demonstrating that the task had been effectively responded too, as well as indicating skills with Photoshop. ↩
- In order to demonstrate my own ability to comprehend the intricacies of being network literate, I incorporated a hyperlink to a basic HTML page that I created for the purposes of this essay. It provides support to my assertion that networked media learning is best done through experience. ↩
- A folksonomy is a classification system used to categorise and annotate content. This is done via user-created tags or keywords. For example, a tag of this essay will be ‘produsage’, which will help Internet users searching for ‘produsage’-related content find this blog post. ↩
- Creating connections multiplies opportunities, as exampled by the 6 degrees of separation theory. ↩
- Image source ↩
- According to ITU , 981 million people in the ‘developed’ world are using the internet, that’s 78.3% of people as of 2014, compared to 50.9% in 2005. The worldwide Internet use figure sits at 2.923 billion people. This highlights the available nature of the online medium. ↩