Theory of evolution
‘‘ NEW media’’ is a term that annoys me, especially when applied to the internet.
The web is certainly nothing new – it’s been publicly accessible for decades.
New media tends to be a term most often used by members of the old media who are concerned this newfangled thingy will spell the end of TV, radio, film and print.
Of course, this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s just a matter or adapting and shifting a little.
It’s worth noting that newspapers were superseded by radio about the middle of last century and radio, in turn, was technically made obsolete by the invention of the television. But they’re all still around because each one is still relevant in its own way and, in some ways, they rely on each other.
The internet, however, is effectively a new delivery vehicle for the old media, rather than a new medium in its own right. Instead of newspapers needing to be printed on paper, or video content being broadcast by radio waves, it can all be shared via the web.
Where the internet does offer something new in terms of media is in its interactivity.
We have, for example, seen the rise of the ‘‘ webisode’’, where TV shows are serialised into short segments of online video, often with some form of interactivity where the audience can give direct feedback, access extra material such as behind- thescenes video, or even influence the story direction.
But a survey recently released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority ( ACMA) suggested shifting technology has not changed viewer demand as significantly as many think.
The study found that children, in particular, placed more importance on good stories and quality storytelling than on all the extra bells and whistles of interactivity and user- generated content.
‘‘ Yes, they like interactive gaming, social networking and engaging with all sorts of technology,’’ Australian Children’s Television Foundation CEO Jenny Buckland said.
‘‘ But when they go on to forums or chat rooms, or upload content to Youtube or other sites, much of the time what they’re talking about or uploading is based around the professionally produced content that they love and want to engage with.’’
According to the ACMA report, 77 per cent of Australians watched broadcast TV every day, 33 per cent watched content from a site like Youtube, 13 per cent watched it from a site like Bittorrent, and 6 per cent created and uploaded video content to the internet.
So rather than eroding the demand for professionally developed content, it may be that the availability of usergenerated content has reinforced the demand for higher- quality content.
And while traditional linear storytelling has not been killed off by interactivity, Ms Buckland said the increased variety and competition had led to better quality all round.