The­ory of evo­lu­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

‘‘ 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.

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