In this unit, we went over what kinds of media there are and how they are at play with one another. In chapter 3, we discussed print media, in chapter 5 we discussed visual media and in chapter 6 we discussed interactive media. Through this, we can see an evolution of sorts in terms of how media advances in technology. Not only through individual platforms, but beyond that. If we look at the different ways that media is distributed, we all know that it all started with pen and paper, and eventually made its way to a monitor.
We can start with good, old fashioned print media. Not to assume that this platform is by any means outdated, but clearly it is the oldest. The three main components that made up print media are newspapers, magazines and books. Functions of these three types of print media are:
Newspapers: Surveillance, spreading news, and correlation.
Books: Spreads ideals, culture and beliefs, transmits knowledge.
These primary functions and use of these media (although the functions can be shared between them) are the reason that people use them to gain access to media content published within them. The history behind print media dates back to the first century with the first books. Newspapers (or their historical equivalent) began around the 1400’s. Magazines interlap with newspaper history, but the first official magazine was printed in 1791.
Another aspect that is important to note is how print media is faring today. Many people are aware that it is a declining business, but it is not dead. The largest issue facing the newspaper industry is chains taking over once privately owned companies. This causes downsizing in staff and it infringes with the connection the paper has with the local community. That causes a drop in circulation, which can lead to closures of papers.
Magazines have been seeing a decline in sales, so publishers began putting out specialized editions to drive up sales and demand of these magazines, rather than having weekly issues filled with similar content.
Books are battling dropping sales with rising digital sales. More people are buying Kindle or online versions of books, which is hurting the companies (such as small business book stores, or even larger chains like Borders) and forcing them to shut their doors unless they begin to sell digital content (such as stores like Barnes and Noble or Amazon).
Although print media is facing its challenges, it is not facing its death sentence. As print media companies begin to converge with digital media or adapt to changing audiences, their sales continue to stay steady. Newspaper outlets are still publishing stories, however it is mostly online journalism now and less print. Magazines still hold their prestige, and may have less issues but are still popular. And books are still being widely consumed, however they are still being read on digital devices.
Chapter five discusses visual media such as photography, movies and television.
The main role of photography is to transmit culture, provide surveillance, provide verification and supporting facts. Photos can tell a story and convey information in a very simple way. It has been being used for this purpose since the Civil War when Mathew Brady began documenting (most likely altered pictures) of the battle grounds. Photography began with a device called the camera obscura. Which was a dark box that transmitted an inverted scene onto a surface. Then came the daguerreotype which created a positive image on a metal plate. After that cameras became more portable and started to resemble what we know today as a camera. But it was not really modernized until the digitalization of the camera which provides photographers with high quality pictures quickly.
Movies mainly entertain and transmit culture while doing that. However, many argue that movies are an art, rather than simply entertainment, Movies began as silent motion pictures which were displayed in black and white. The first addition to movies was sound. Sound was a huge change to the industry not only for its technological advancement, but because it changed the job. Acors and actresses who did not have speaking voices suitable for movies could no longer work in the industry. Next came color which truly changed the experience of movies. The Technicolor Motion Picture Corporation was founded in 1922 and actually hand colored film in order to colorize a film. Among the first color movies were The Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. From there a more modern way of making movies came to be.
In the Golden Age of Film, the 1950’s, there was a huge competition between studios to run the industry. Warner Brothers and Disney were among the most popular, and still are to this day. However, now a days the stars of the movies seem to run the show. Then, it was all controlled by the studios. Actors were considered property of these companies and could be loaned out depending on who needed them for a picture. However, now that’s all changed. The movie industry is a huge money making business from theater sales to DVD and streaming sales. A successful movie can make astronomical amounts of money for a studio depending on if it was marketed correctly to audiences.
Television follows much of the same history as television. However, the TV and movie industries were at odds with each other for quite some time because TV was seen as the competition. Actors who were on TV were seen as less serious until bigger names, like Lucille Ball, became huge successes on television. Today, Tv has come into a very modern age. The types of shows to watch are endless, including the ways to watch these shows. There are three main ways of distribution: cable, broadcast and satellite. Cable TV means that physical cables are run into your home to give you a signal, broadcast means over the air connection, and satellite means that your connection goes from your home, hits a satellite in space and then bounces back to your receiver to give you a signal. The most popular way of distribution as of now is cable TV. TV is now also distributed entirely through a digital signal which not only freed up a lot of bandwidth, but also allowed for digital recording and on demand services on your TV. As for the future of television, that's it. It seems to be finding new ways to provide people with more services without ever leaving the couch.
Chapter 6 discusses interactive media such as the internet, video games and augmented reality. First, the chapter defines what interactivity means. It is when two or more parties are communicating through an ongoing give and take messaging process. Elements of this include: dialogue occurring between a human and a computer, the dialogue affects the nature or type of feedback or content received which changes the ongoing dialogue, and that the audience has some measure of control over the media content and the order which it is seen. Through this, we learn how to create a more personal relationship with the content received on the internet. This is at play with mass media, because it means that the ‘masses’ may not be receiving exactly the same content.
Interfaces are one of the biggest ways in which interactive media works the way it does. Interfaces shaped users into becoming more active and involved in digital media. Television interfaces were among the first interfaces introduced to the public. This interface being the TV remote. It was introduced in the 1950’s and allowed people to change the channel without leaving the couch to turn a knob. This created the term channel surfing. It also could be considered a simple form of multitasking and it helped prepare audiences to be more interactive with their media consumption. Intuitive interfaces are designed to feel natural to users the first time they approach it. Interactive interfaces are things like: keyboards, computer mouses, touch screen and natural input methods (like writing with a stylus or voice recognition). Graphical user interfaces are things that changed the way computers looked in order to make them more accessible to people using them. Things like buttons on your computer screen, a cursor or an icon are all graphical user interfaces. It changed the previous hard to use computer style to simple for its audiences.
The most important aspect of interactive media stemmed from the internet and World Wide Web. The first computer network was used at colleges and universities around the country, however there was no common language between computers. After that was established with TCP and TCP/IP, internet protocols started coming into place. And in 1982 the official term Internet began to be used. Later, in 1991, The World Wide Web and its protocol came into being with HTTP and HTML. Then, since there was a common “language” of sorts for internet users, people could now comprehensively use the web at their leisure. People could download and upload content with broadband connections via peer to peer or centralized distribution dynamics.Another key part of interactive media is video games. Content is usually borrowed from movies or tv shows, which creates a huge fan base for this type of media. Video games started off with consoles and moved their way up to internet and social media type games. Types of games include augmented reality, which overlays the game on what the player would be seeing in real life, there are also serious games (also known as applied games) which help to educate people on real life situations. They are often used as training devices for people with high risk jobs like doctors, or police officers etc. Social games are now the most popular type, because they reach the widest array of consumers. This means players can interact with others and connect via their social media accounts. One term that has emerged from the video game era, if you will, is gamificaton. Which means that people use game-like mechanics and thinking in a non game setting. This has become popular in classrooms or even in retail, ie: getting points or rewards for doing something that an individual would be doing regardless. Now, there's just an added perk.