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Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Hybrid Media: Not so Hy: Rant about new technology

Hybrid Media

My Colleague James Avery sent me this article today.

It was interesting but not very timely. In responding to his message I got carried away and decided to put it here.

His premise, to be candid, is about five to seven years old. I have been saying as much since I  came back from Latvia on my Fulbright. I have a lengthy discussion of it in my writing book (but  I did not have the fancy "Hybrid Media" advertising  name) and have talked about this in articles for several years. Before I left in 2005 for Latvia I had been learning about aggregators and made my Intro to Public Rel. students download one  and monitor feeds in 2005 and 2006 for class assignments. Google came out with its service right after this and became easier for students to use to pick up RSS feeds.

I am conducting a Delphi study right now with 30-50 top people in computers, social media, programmers, scholars, artists, bloggers, professional communicators,  and others -- I left out agency people intentionally because most of them are so far behind the social media ball that they are still trying to make Facebook a household name instead of learning HOW to use the  media properly. This guy is on the right track, but Nicholas Negroponte knew almost this much back in 1995. In the 1980s, computer experts (Burnham, et al.)  were seeing trends in computers that most people are only recently beginning to understand -- loss of privacy,  protection of personal information, loss of self (Stoll, 1999) etc. Even people like Christopher Lasch (1979)  were seeing the changes in society decades ago. Levinson in the Soft Edge (1997) raised dozens of privacy issues and talked about pricing of digital content, etc. In 2003, Tufte wrote the Cognitive Dimensions of Powerpoint (not on point here, but an example of someone who was asking us to use our technologies to do more than entertain).

I know, academics like Maureen Taylor and I in public relations "don't understand the business world" -- except when were being paid for consulting... Many of the non-profit media development agencies actually know more about new media technology than the agency social media people do. The average Iranian Journalist could probably tell you 10 ways to avoid detection on the internet while US students still struggle with how to get a handle on their Facebook settings.

The problem with many social media "experts" is that they think that every "new technology" is new. They aren't. And they read the wrong books. The books to read were not written last year but last decade. You want to understand a movement, read what the critics of it say, not what the true believers claim. Same thing here. To understand new technology, first understand the old technology and how things like telephones worked. McLuhan in 1964 told us about the intimacy of the telephone. Do you really think Steve Jobs dreamed it all up? I'm sure he read McLuhan and Negroponte.

Burnham, D. (1984). The rise of the computer state. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Negroponte, N. (1995). Being digital. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Lasch, C. (1979). The culture of narcissism: American life in an age of diminishing expectations. New York: W.W. Norton and Company.

Levinson, P. (1997). The soft edge: A natural history and future of the information revolution. New York: Rutledge.

McLuhan, M. (1964/1999). Understanding media: The extensions of man. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Stoll, C. (1999). High-Tech Heretic: Why Computers Don’t Belong in the Classroom and other Reflections by a Computer Contrarian

Tufte, E. R. (2003). The cognitive style of PowerPoint. Cheshire, Connecticut: Graphics Press, LLC.

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