New media is often characterized as highly interactive digital technology. New media is “very easily processed, stored, transformed, retrieved, hyper-linked and, perhaps most radical of all, easily searched for and accessed,” Robert Logan writes in his book Understanding New Media. Conceptually, new media can be viewed as a cultural process that reflects societal values and societal transformation. These and other considerations help define new media and explain its significance.
New media is changing the way people across the world are entertained and consume information. The following five types of new media illustrate the evolution of new media.
Although blogs are an early form of new media, they are still relevant and share several characteristics of the most recent new media types.
Information in blogs is easily accessed and searched for, and everything is typically organized naturally. For instance, blog posts are often nested under categories, and users can navigate posts by a specific category or tag or via a search. And like other forms of new media where content is posted — such as online newspapers and some social media platforms — entries often contain mixed media such as photos and video to go along with the text.
Blogs can also be interactive, despite some variance. For instance, the most popular type of news coverage for blogs is overwhelmingly politics and foreign events, according to the Pew Research Center. Yet despite political bloggers, “most journalists are seeking to remain gatekeepers even in this highly interactive and participatory format,” a study in Journalism found.
Virtual reality technologies simulate an environment along with the user’s physical presence and sensory experience. Commonly, the user experiences virtual reality through a special headset or on a computer screen.
Seemingly limitless applications for virtual reality exist. In virtual reality, users can cycle through the Himalayas, consider purchasing real estate that hasn’t been built yet, see a 360-degree film or train as a sniper. All virtual reality delivers a highly interactive, immersive experience that places the user in a lifelike or fictional environment. Some say that virtual reality’s unrivaled level of immersion qualifies it as the “ultimate medium” in new media, according to professors Özhan Tingöy and Barbaros Bostan.
Virtual reality may be poised to become the future of new media. Media and entertainment companies are investing in virtual reality and planning for it to become the next entertainment platform, The New York Times says. Virtual reality can change journalism and the way audiences view and engage with news from around the world, TechRepublic describes.
Social media centers on creating, sharing and exchanging information, ideas and content in online networks and communities. Highly interactive, social media is a form of new media that relies heavily on the participation of users to provide value.
As opposed to forms of new media like virtual reality, social media is commonplace. The average online user spends 1.72 hours per day on social platforms, a survey of 170,000 Internet users by GlobalWebIndex found. Social networks consume about 28 percent of all online activity.
The future of social media is likely tied to other forms of new media. For instance, Inc. magazine sees technologies such as augmented and virtual reality, live video and the integration of photos and storytelling as part of social media’s short-term future.
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Online newspapers are considered new media for many of the same reasons as blogs. Online newspapers blend multiple types of media and are easily accessed and searched. Users can also interact with some online newspapers via a comment feature.
Online newspapers — along with social media and other forms of new media — are a major part of why traditional newspapers are shifting to digital form. Only 56 percent of newspaper readership takes place exclusively in print, according to the Pew Research Center. Newspaper ad revenue from print dropped to $16.4 billion in 2014 from $44.9 billion in 2003, while digital ad revenue increased to $3.5 billion in 2014 from $1.2 billion in 2003.
Digital games are a part of everyday media culture and a unique type of new media. “Digital games and game worlds open up cultural spaces themselves, and, unlike other new media and virtual environments, these spaces are framed as ‘playful’ from the outset,” Johannes Fromme and Alexander Unger write in the book Computer Games and New Media Cultures.
Digital games are also noteworthy for how they build interaction and community. “The industry is producing a steady stream of games that continue to expand their nature and impact — they can be artistic, social and collaborative, with many allowing massive numbers of people from all over the world to participate simultaneously,” The New Media Consortium’s 2014 K–12 Horizon Report says. More than half of the most frequent gamers play with others, and around half feel that video games help them connect with friends and spend time with family, according to the Entertainment Software Association.
Certain types of games demonstrate the possibilities of new media. Massively multiplayer online role-playing games immerse gamers in virtual worlds that are built upon social interaction — and these “artificial worlds have their own structure, culture, ethos, economy and politics,” Tingöy and Bostan write. Another example is how live video game streaming services are rising in popularity. This trend has led to a legitimate new sport called “e-sports,” or video games as professional spectator sports, The Economist reports.
Leveraging New Media
The online Bachelor of Science in Digital Media and Design from Southeastern University equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to creatively communicate through various forms of media. Students learn in a convenient and flexible online environment that accommodates work and personal schedules.