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What is New Media?

I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that I have been using the phrase “New Media” without ever thinking about the definition very much. You see, “New Media” is one of those things you know when you find it, but when it comes to explaining to someone else we can stumble. Let me try now and see if  you agree.

First let me describe what I believe New Media isn’t.

  • It’s not just the internet or web – New Media could be a PDF, a multimedia CDROM, a DVD, a mobile application …
  • It’s not just publishing, I would include applications and tools
  • It’s not just something marketers ought to be interested in, New Media is valuable for education and socializing too.

The problem we have is the people who talk about New Media most tend to be marketers or people moving from traditional mass media so those are the areas with the richest discussion. Of course one of my main focuses is on New Media in business, but as I say above, some of the most innovative uses of New Media is in education.

It seems that while most of us can agree if one thing or another is New Media, we can’t always describe what it is about the thing that makes it New Media. There tends to be two things in common between New Media versus old media:

  1. Digital
  2. Interactive

Anything that is delivered digitally and can be interacted with (even pause/ffwd could be “interaction”) could be described as New Media.

Perhaps we really ought to call New Media  “Digital Interactive Media”?

What do you think? How do you define it? Is the term pointless or does it still have meaning? I would live for you to share you thoughts … I could end up renaming this blog 🙂

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Comments

  1. Great post! I think you may be on to something with the term “Digital Interactive Media”. Looking at what the web provides as a definition you’re not far off. For example this states that it is media that can only be created with the aid of computer processing power. Then, if you want a more detailed response (if you can pull the answer from this) check out this piece on new media.

    Regardless, I think you’re on the right path Chris.

  2. Great post! I think you may be on to something with the term “Digital Interactive Media”. Looking at what the web provides as a definition you’re not far off. For example this states that it is media that can only be created with the aid of computer processing power. Then, if you want a more detailed response (if you can pull the answer from this) check out this piece on new media.

    Regardless, I think you’re on the right path Chris.

  3. Cheers for the blog post.

    For me the Term ‘New Media’ is everything you have said but more importantly it is a constantly evolving definition.

    Someone said to me a couple of days ago when looking at my ‘OurManInside.com’ wheelcover.on my car…(It says i do photography and ‘New Media’.) “Isn’t new media old now? How long will it remain new?

    It’s always new. We move with it, absorbing what we can as soon as it appears and sometimes developing it’s direction ourselves. It’s a balancing act, picking what we think works for us and constantly moving forward, surfing the edge of the wave that is digital interactive media.

    Yesterdays ‘New Media’ may be old, but tomorrows ‘new media’ is the media we are tweeting about today… 🙂

  4. Cheers for the blog post.

    For me the Term ‘New Media’ is everything you have said but more importantly it is a constantly evolving definition.

    Someone said to me a couple of days ago when looking at my ‘OurManInside.com’ wheelcover.on my car…(It says i do photography and ‘New Media’.) “Isn’t new media old now? How long will it remain new?

    It’s always new. We move with it, absorbing what we can as soon as it appears and sometimes developing it’s direction ourselves. It’s a balancing act, picking what we think works for us and constantly moving forward, surfing the edge of the wave that is digital interactive media.

    Yesterdays ‘New Media’ may be old, but tomorrows ‘new media’ is the media we are tweeting about today… 🙂

  5. Digital Interactive Media has the unfortunate acronym of DIM. 😀 Interactive Digital Media would be IDM, which, as far as I can tell, can’t be used against you in any way.

  6. Digital Interactive Media has the unfortunate acronym of DIM. 😀 Interactive Digital Media would be IDM, which, as far as I can tell, can’t be used against you in any way.

  7. Hi,

    I would also define new media by the model it is broadcast, new media tends to be “pull” in that people go to get it via a search, or via actively signing up for an RSS for example, whilst old media is push – push via the TV broadcast, into the neewsagent as in newspapers.

  8. Hi,

    I would also define new media by the model it is broadcast, new media tends to be “pull” in that people go to get it via a search, or via actively signing up for an RSS for example, whilst old media is push – push via the TV broadcast, into the neewsagent as in newspapers.

  9. Hi Chris, I like where you are going with this thought process. I continuously harp on the fact that these tools and resources are interactive, which is 1) what customers want and 2) sales people already do – they build relationships with their customers. To me, being interactive in a more efficient manner can be managed and helpful to a business, not as a replacement for traditional sales calls and relationship building, but as an enhancement. One other note…be careful of the name as acronyms can be a real downer…”DIM”. 😉

  10. Hi Chris, I like where you are going with this thought process. I continuously harp on the fact that these tools and resources are interactive, which is 1) what customers want and 2) sales people already do – they build relationships with their customers. To me, being interactive in a more efficient manner can be managed and helpful to a business, not as a replacement for traditional sales calls and relationship building, but as an enhancement. One other note…be careful of the name as acronyms can be a real downer…”DIM”. 😉

  11. In the spirit of our acronym-loving world, you could call it “DIM” for short 😉

    The issue I have with “new” media is how long until it is no longer “new”? New media 3 years ago is different than new media today. So what do we call that media from 3 years ago?

    You could always borrow from the programmer and (sometimes) design spectrum, get super trite, and call it “Media 2.0” but then at some point we’ll need a 3.0 😉

    So yes, I vote for DIM. Seems we’ll be using the word “digital” for quite a while.

  12. In the spirit of our acronym-loving world, you could call it “DIM” for short 😉

    The issue I have with “new” media is how long until it is no longer “new”? New media 3 years ago is different than new media today. So what do we call that media from 3 years ago?

    You could always borrow from the programmer and (sometimes) design spectrum, get super trite, and call it “Media 2.0” but then at some point we’ll need a 3.0 😉

    So yes, I vote for DIM. Seems we’ll be using the word “digital” for quite a while.

  13. I’ve not thought about the phrase New Media for ages Chris. I remember back in the mid 90s when we started using “Multimedia” it was a step forward in that we could deliver documents not only with text and pictures (traditional paper based media) but also animation and sound. Hence Multiple Mediums…

    I am puzzled though why the phrase Multimedia hadn’t been used before then, as Interactive Video Games had been around for 20+ years by then. And TV and Cinema had been delivering multimedia it decades, but even today they are still known as “The Media”

    Personally I started using the Phrase New Media round about the end of the 90s РMultimedia seemed a bit clich̩ and dusty by then and New Media sounded more cutting edge to me (on my CV anyway).

    I’m still not sure which phrase describes the whole genre better, Multi or New Media.

    I wonder when New Media will become the “not so new” media and what will replace it?

    Dean

  14. I’ve not thought about the phrase New Media for ages Chris. I remember back in the mid 90s when we started using “Multimedia” it was a step forward in that we could deliver documents not only with text and pictures (traditional paper based media) but also animation and sound. Hence Multiple Mediums…

    I am puzzled though why the phrase Multimedia hadn’t been used before then, as Interactive Video Games had been around for 20+ years by then. And TV and Cinema had been delivering multimedia it decades, but even today they are still known as “The Media”

    Personally I started using the Phrase New Media round about the end of the 90s РMultimedia seemed a bit clich̩ and dusty by then and New Media sounded more cutting edge to me (on my CV anyway).

    I’m still not sure which phrase describes the whole genre better, Multi or New Media.

    I wonder when New Media will become the “not so new” media and what will replace it?

    Dean

  15. The use of the word ‘media’ is what is at question. Is not media another way to describe ‘communication’? We can all play the word games with the use of ‘message’ or ‘communiqué’ or ‘interaction’. The idea that something is old, and then it is new, is subjective.

    What I gain from your blog is your ongoing dialogue of ideas related to what you view as ‘new media’. Those ideas are what IS new… and media, again from my perspective, is just another word to describe methods of communication. Be it a blog, or some way to share ideas or products, it is all media to me.

    I like your tag line ‘The Business of Blogging and New Media’. There is no reason to change it.

  16. The use of the word ‘media’ is what is at question. Is not media another way to describe ‘communication’? We can all play the word games with the use of ‘message’ or ‘communiqué’ or ‘interaction’. The idea that something is old, and then it is new, is subjective.

    What I gain from your blog is your ongoing dialogue of ideas related to what you view as ‘new media’. Those ideas are what IS new… and media, again from my perspective, is just another word to describe methods of communication. Be it a blog, or some way to share ideas or products, it is all media to me.

    I like your tag line ‘The Business of Blogging and New Media’. There is no reason to change it.

  17. I love where you are going with this. I’m actually tempted to call “New Media” … “Old Media” instead. The majority of the last century has been a bit of an aberration in terms of how communication and commerce was conducted for the majority of humanity. Mostly people engaged in conversations- you went to a marketplace and talked to people.

    It wasn’t until the earliest versions of the printing press, and then, much later, broadcast media, that one-way communication on a broad scale was even possible.

    Finally, technology has caught up with our humanity, and we’re back to the old way of doing things- through conversation.

  18. I love where you are going with this. I’m actually tempted to call “New Media” … “Old Media” instead. The majority of the last century has been a bit of an aberration in terms of how communication and commerce was conducted for the majority of humanity. Mostly people engaged in conversations- you went to a marketplace and talked to people.

    It wasn’t until the earliest versions of the printing press, and then, much later, broadcast media, that one-way communication on a broad scale was even possible.

    Finally, technology has caught up with our humanity, and we’re back to the old way of doing things- through conversation.

  19. Nice post and very smart comments all around.

    I think New Media is still being defined. if it’s not a book, or a painting or a movie…it’s new media.

    1.”Digital Interactive Media” is a great term, for us guys…but i think it leaves behind alot of people in the world who are still ‘new’ to this sort of media.

    2. New media is a term that is optimistic and opened to posibilities, where as ‘DIM’ seems to limit them. I propose we keep it as ‘New Media’ at least until we iron out some of the kinks of this media, such as piracy and spam.

  20. Nice post and very smart comments all around.

    I think New Media is still being defined. if it’s not a book, or a painting or a movie…it’s new media.

    1.”Digital Interactive Media” is a great term, for us guys…but i think it leaves behind alot of people in the world who are still ‘new’ to this sort of media.

    2. New media is a term that is optimistic and opened to posibilities, where as ‘DIM’ seems to limit them. I propose we keep it as ‘New Media’ at least until we iron out some of the kinks of this media, such as piracy and spam.

  21. “New media” was used as a distinction between mass media delivery methods and started to be used more commonly in the late 90s by Lev Manovich and others. It has relevance to those working in mass media, more so than say, those in software development, who probably would consider any software program to fit the definition.

    Interactivity is certainly one of the hallmarks of new media, but more specifically, user-contributed content and the ability to re-use / re-contextualize maleable information in multiple forms. An audio DVD or CD isn’t “new media” because it fits well within the definitions of recorded music and video.

  22. “New media” was used as a distinction between mass media delivery methods and started to be used more commonly in the late 90s by Lev Manovich and others. It has relevance to those working in mass media, more so than say, those in software development, who probably would consider any software program to fit the definition.

    Interactivity is certainly one of the hallmarks of new media, but more specifically, user-contributed content and the ability to re-use / re-contextualize maleable information in multiple forms. An audio DVD or CD isn’t “new media” because it fits well within the definitions of recorded music and video.

  23. I recently listened to a great talk from the TED conference on user generated content and how the law has not yet caught up with the digital age of ‘New Media’

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/187

    Lessig makes some brilliant points and for anyone involved in the publication, re-use and manipulation of digital media…it makes compelling watching.

  24. I recently listened to a great talk from the TED conference on user generated content and how the law has not yet caught up with the digital age of ‘New Media’

    http://www.ted.com/index.php/talks/view/id/187

    Lessig makes some brilliant points and for anyone involved in the publication, re-use and manipulation of digital media…it makes compelling watching.

  25. Don’t forget the New Media Douchebags: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSP8xm_gaK4.

  26. Don’t forget the New Media Douchebags: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zSP8xm_gaK4.

  27. My personal belief is “New Media” is a catch-all phrase for mediums that have not be classified yet.

    myspace and Facebook were new media until we found the phrase “Social Media” etc.

    “New Media” is just that… it is media that is new. And just as everything else, soon that media will get old and be replaced by another media which is newer.

  28. My personal belief is “New Media” is a catch-all phrase for mediums that have not be classified yet.

    myspace and Facebook were new media until we found the phrase “Social Media” etc.

    “New Media” is just that… it is media that is new. And just as everything else, soon that media will get old and be replaced by another media which is newer.

  29. I haven’t heard anyone discussing about definition of New Media other than on this blog Chris. Forgive me if I’m talking out of ignorance.

    I think New Media has got to do more with the digitally available information that is innovative and futuristic. So I may discount a simple media player just because it’s old.

    It needs to have some “WOW” factor in it before I can call it New Media. Or rather I prefer that way.

    Again, I could be wrong.

    🙂
    Cheers!
    Mani

  30. I haven’t heard anyone discussing about definition of New Media other than on this blog Chris. Forgive me if I’m talking out of ignorance.

    I think New Media has got to do more with the digitally available information that is innovative and futuristic. So I may discount a simple media player just because it’s old.

    It needs to have some “WOW” factor in it before I can call it New Media. Or rather I prefer that way.

    Again, I could be wrong.

    🙂
    Cheers!
    Mani

  31. We tried to give it a definition when we planned to hold a seminar on it in the University. We shelved the plan for a lack of a better meaning of the phrase. 😉

  32. We tried to give it a definition when we planned to hold a seminar on it in the University. We shelved the plan for a lack of a better meaning of the phrase. 😉

  33. @greg – Thanks 🙂 Good links 🙂

    @Christian – That’s the great thing about new media, it never gets old 😉

    @Michael – In my case DIM might be more appropriate 😉

    @Neil – Good point, the days of broadcast seem to be fading quickly

    @Susan – You are right, the best salespeople have always known the power of “conversation” rather than “pitch”, interactivity as you say.

    @Reese – We are always seeing the next new thing while becoming comfortable with what it replaces so I guess it will always be new but what we talk about will constantly change

    @Dean – Some phrases stick while others don’t, I have never been that good at guessing because some buzz words I didn’t like but refuse to go away (“leveraged paradigms” come to mind!)

    @Bryant – Yes you are right, it does seem to be another way of talking about communication, which is perhaps why I like it, it does beg the question why we still use the term “media” rather than “communication” doesn’t it?

    @Mark – The companies that don’t keep up with that idea will likely find the next phase quite difficult. It seems the “be a good consumer, do as you are told, because I said so” days are numbered!

    @ming – Yeah I like that it is optimistic and forward looking

    @Andrew – Do chapter marks and branching not count as interactivity?

    @LAChick – I love the ted talks, thanks for the link 🙂

    @Adam – How could we forget? 🙂

    @DJ – Yes Social Media works well but I would say it is a subcategory of new media?

    @Mani – I am not sure if it has to have a wow factor, I would still say a PDF is new media but without any wow?

    @jhay – People do struggle to define it, makes you wonder why a much used phrase causes so much trouble 🙂

  34. @greg – Thanks 🙂 Good links 🙂

    @Christian – That’s the great thing about new media, it never gets old 😉

    @Michael – In my case DIM might be more appropriate 😉

    @Neil – Good point, the days of broadcast seem to be fading quickly

    @Susan – You are right, the best salespeople have always known the power of “conversation” rather than “pitch”, interactivity as you say.

    @Reese – We are always seeing the next new thing while becoming comfortable with what it replaces so I guess it will always be new but what we talk about will constantly change

    @Dean – Some phrases stick while others don’t, I have never been that good at guessing because some buzz words I didn’t like but refuse to go away (“leveraged paradigms” come to mind!)

    @Bryant – Yes you are right, it does seem to be another way of talking about communication, which is perhaps why I like it, it does beg the question why we still use the term “media” rather than “communication” doesn’t it?

    @Mark – The companies that don’t keep up with that idea will likely find the next phase quite difficult. It seems the “be a good consumer, do as you are told, because I said so” days are numbered!

    @ming – Yeah I like that it is optimistic and forward looking

    @Andrew – Do chapter marks and branching not count as interactivity?

    @LAChick – I love the ted talks, thanks for the link 🙂

    @Adam – How could we forget? 🙂

    @DJ – Yes Social Media works well but I would say it is a subcategory of new media?

    @Mani – I am not sure if it has to have a wow factor, I would still say a PDF is new media but without any wow?

    @jhay – People do struggle to define it, makes you wonder why a much used phrase causes so much trouble 🙂

  35. I think that new media, as an art practice has been practiced for centuries. It involves the creative exploration of new technologies and often includes (but is not limmited to) interactive elements which create experience based meaning and shared authorship.

    In this way, we can see how the first photographs, films and even audio devices were at one time new media. Once these technological advances hit the mainstream and mass media they became the institutionalized media we see today as the recording, film and photography industries.

    An essential quality of new media practice is the re-inventing of the definition – what was new media in the past is not new media today, and what is new media today will not be new media in the future.

    Convergence is a contemporary new media outcome, but not what I think of as part of the new media definition.

  36. I think that new media, as an art practice has been practiced for centuries. It involves the creative exploration of new technologies and often includes (but is not limmited to) interactive elements which create experience based meaning and shared authorship.

    In this way, we can see how the first photographs, films and even audio devices were at one time new media. Once these technological advances hit the mainstream and mass media they became the institutionalized media we see today as the recording, film and photography industries.

    An essential quality of new media practice is the re-inventing of the definition – what was new media in the past is not new media today, and what is new media today will not be new media in the future.

    Convergence is a contemporary new media outcome, but not what I think of as part of the new media definition.