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The Beginning of the End…of the Beginning

April 16, 2009

supersadfaceSo this is the last official blog post (picture is of what my sister calls, “supersadface for supersadsituations”). It’s been quite a run. We’ve discussed (just keep scrolling down and you’ll see) blog philosophy and blog aesthetic, and waxed emotional on how Facebook got a little too close for comfort. From MySpace to interactivity in MyBedroom, looking at the new media from a new media perspective proved to be a lot harder than one would think. I thought being so as in touch with technology as I am and as passionate about new media as I am (I mean, it is destroying my career path [music industry] but I just can’t stop loving it), I thought this would be easy. I have all my opinions, but, there is just so much going on here that it is impossible to capture all of the changes and impacts new media is having not just on how we communicate, how we blog, how we interact, but on freaking everything.

Call it what you want: a paradigm shift, a cultural revolution, evolution; it’s all the same. We’re changing. And change is a really hard thing to deal with, especially when you are so used to things. The thing is, now we are used to things instantly, immediately, and patience is a rare find. All we want is more, more, more, and with all the damned information on the Internet, we can get more, more, more. And now we are overindulged, emotionally unstable (okay, maybe thats just me…but I swear the technology is coming for you next), impatient, socially awkward (okay maybe that’s just you…but I’m getting there), transitioning people who kant spel 4 shyt cuz we R 1337 lyk DaT yA HeRd?!one11!~!z/

[people who cannot spell for shit because we are elite like that, have you heard?!one11!~!z/]

What is this world coming to? Lol, I’m not a pessimist when it comes to technology, though. In fact I want to embrace it, I really do. It is where we, collectively, are moving. Which direction no one knows, but its in that general area over yonder, but not too far yonder. Everything is online, in the cloud, available over the air. It’s scary sometimes, sure, but, that fear will subside. The vast majority of people have no qualms with putting all their personal information online — Facebook, linked in, etc. (the respectable sites) and MySpace and the dating sites (arguably less respectable, but I can’t judge), and if they do have qualms, they sure are quick to get over them and get on those websites. Our society’s idea of privacy is changing, and in nuanced areas the issue of privacy always comes up: health care, RFIDs (in drivers licenses for example), personal info sold to advertisers, gmail reading your email, machines knowing more about you than you do, people having the ability to literally know all about you, from miles, or countries, or continents, away. Scary, yes, but also fascinating. We’re at the beginning of the end of the beginning of this transition/paradigm shift/revolution/evolution to an information society — and you damn well best not try and fight it, n00b muthafuxor. Or you’ll get pwned.

I kind of don’t see the point in this meta-analysis of new media. There is no secret to it — it is all about creativity and innovation. But there are no rules for creativity and innovation. The only rules in place that are pushing and pulling at new media are the laws we have governing intellectual property, privacy, communications, advertising, antitrust to an extent.
These laws, though, were not designed with the potential of the Internet/new media in mind. They were designed with the interests of maintaining the old paradigm in mind, because that’s what companies (a/k/a the ones with the money) want(ed). My interest of course is in how the intellectual property regime we have (only insofar as copyrights and trademarks go, because patent law scares me) is not suited, or even apropos, for the media and medium that are dominating the markets. Sure we have some non-new media that is still a steady part of our lives – but those medium are evolvig. Take the DVD and on-demand television for example. Even home telephone service (<–this sounds so awesome, by the way) is now a new media event. The point is, our policy foundations are not allowing new media to achieve its full potential. It is not hard to change: just changing IP policy would create a vastly different environment for media. Changing privacy policy would be harder since it legal basis is always being wrestled out. Communications law needs just as much an overhaul as IP, but again, a change in one would help new media regardless of a change in the other.

Looking back on this class, though, I appreciate how I was given the opportunity to produce some works that I probably would not have taken it upon myself to produce on my own. Making a image based blog post and a podcast, while somewhat tedious work, and someone still “academic” rather than “fun”, taught me a lot. Not necessarily about what makes a great image-argument or enjoyable podcast, but at least how to make it, how to think about it, and those are experiences that I can use later in life. Simple familiarity with new media is the short first step in learning and understanding new media. One class is not enough to make any one of us any sort of expert. This is most obviously because of the extreme time constraints and other academic restraits we were under, but it is also because none of us in that room were decidedly experts. It was a learning experience for all of us, and I think that being new media neophytes (even I will admit to not being as learned in new media technology as I come off) limited us in our being able to learn and master the new media that we tackled. People don’t get “taught” how to blog, people discover it, and while they make “learn” from other bloggers and the blogosphere just by immersing themself in it, working in a new media environment is not something that is yet steadfastly defined. And I think that partly the allure of new media, is that those that choose to immerse themselves in it, and create, innovate, produce, and work in it, are not constrained by too many norms and rules. New media is free expression. Still impressionable, and so able to impress on its consumers.

When we video-conference with Rick Webb (which was good, I’d say. And video- is always better than tele-), I believe he brought up the point that the “next big thing” is not going to be a surprise to us. It’s here, we just don’t know what exact form will make it blow up into a cultural phenom. New media is still a business, and it is still developing. Marshal McLuhan was way ahead of his time when he wrote about medium. The communicative qualities of new media are still someone anachronistic – they seem too much in the future rather than now. But we are gaining on them. There are so many ways to use new media, but the uptake of such a technology or medium depends on cultural values, behavior psychology, and other interactive forces. There is really no way to predict what is next, but there are a number of venture capitalists who are betting millions that they’ve got a stake in the next big new media thing. Time, with anything, will tell, but it is important that work and development with new media continues, especially with my generation (and I don’t doubt for a second that that will be the case). Even with all the greatness that can come with new media, we can not discount our reaction to it. Of course we’ve seen how people have begun deleting their facebook accounts or stop using the service as much, because it has become to invasive in their life. Technology, and new media in particular, can hurt if it is not controlled. One of it’s very purposes is to be integrated into us, into our life–and while we might not have a tangible privacy concern with that, the social implications it carries are heavy, especially for teenagers and young adults dealing with growing up issues. And issues are not limited to this demographic, new media affects the younger and the older, too. We do need to remember that this technology is what we make it. It is smart, but we must remain in control. The medium is the message, right, but we make the medium. We make the message. We make our impressions of the message. These are important to remember, lest we do succumb media and not only lose our privacy or our intellectual property, but our soul. We use tech. It doesn’t use us. A lot of people know this, but a lot do not. This class made me think a lot about that, especially when discussing podcast topics. So many people created something that at least in good part discussed a relationship (either good or bad). This penetration of technology into such decidedly human interaction (I’d say dating is more “humanized” than simple friendship, at least nowadays, but I do see some pretty significant arguments against that claim. Maybe I should qualify dating by saying a serious, committed, involved relationship), is astounding.

So now that this is ending, I am thinking about whether to continue this blog. I recently started writing in a journal, which i prefer because I use my hands and make letters, not my fingers and push buttons. Plus, I can’t backspace. It actually has nothing really to do with privacy or publicly revaling myself, and maybe one day I’ll type it up on here. Or maybe I’ll do both. But I do feel like we now are so content– so much so we almost need to do this–with putting our thoughts/feelings/lives online to share or be shared with. It’s almost too much social. But, hey, maybe people will read this. They’ll comment. I’ll make…friends? Get advice. Help someone. Learn something. Teach something. Express myself. Nothing wrong with any of that. And, now that this is ending, it opens the doors for new things to begin. New things that will flow directly out of the our old conversations, our old new media, old blog posts, and ideas. It is the beginning of the end of the beginning. Everything in technology, by virtue of innovation, is indebted to something else for its creation. There are never set beginnings and ends. Just transitions between the two. This is a transition, and I hope to continue flowing in the current of new media.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Vinal permalink
    April 17, 2009 2:46 PM

    Brett,

    I appreciate the honesty of your blog and I admire your ability to just lay it all out there. In doing so, you’ve established a straightforward, yet humorous tone, which makes it fun to read. Good work!

    On a different note, I am intrigued by your discussion of new media policy. I have often wondered if there’ll ever be a set of laws to mediate the rampant, unbridled Internet. Also, the increasing lack of privacy you mentioned is kind of scary. It reminds me of the book 1984, in which “Big Brother” is always watching–creepy. Anyway, we are obviously on the cusp of these issues; I think they are going to materialize in the next few years. You’re going to law school, aren’t you? Maybe you’ll be figuring it all out one day 😉

    By the way, I checked out that Verizon phone and it does look AMAZING. I’ll bet that multimedia/multitasking home appliances becomes the next new thing. By the time we’re buying houses, who knows what kind of crazy contraptions they’ll have in them.

    Anyway, I enjoyed reading your blog. Good luck as you continue your new media journey 🙂

  2. Benjamin J Friedman permalink
    April 18, 2009 2:25 AM

    Brett,

    I think you’ve made some really valid points, and so I encourage you to continue in this new media endeavor. Namely, I agree that creativity and innovation are the main drivers behind these outputs. With more practice, the types of projects you produce (as you said that you have enjoyed the opportunities to try your hand in new venues) will breach innovation and begin to push the line.

    As Ira Glass said, a lot of quality has to do with the larger, often worse, body of work that precedes it. So, do go off, be free as you say. And enjoy the opportunities not yet available today.

    Best,
    BJ

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