“Send me a text.” “I’m blogging about it.” “Don’t IM about that.” It is no news to say that in the last decade, five years, or dare I even say the last three years, we have seen a marked change in the way we give and receive information of any kind. In some way, we can even say that the ways in which we communicate in general have shifted. Wanting to tell my good friend about my weekend plans no longer means calling her up or meeting her for lunch. I can relate the information I want to her simply by texting her, sending her an email, or even video chatting with her right from my own living room.
But when I say that we, or I, have seen a marked change, I’m not saying that I didn’t use these tools three years ago. I definitely texted, emailed and skyped with friends and family in 2007. What’s changed is the rate at which I use these communication tools and consequently how second nature it has become to use them. Even within these last three years, I can surely say that my mind and body (my little texting fingers) have adapted significantly to the newest ways of communicating quickly and efficiently.
New New Media
In New New Media, Levinson makes a distinction between old media (newspapers, radio) new media (email, search engines) and what he calls new new media (blogging, FB, Tweeting). Compared to new media, new new media exist and depend entirely on everyone’s participation. Because new new media are so socially engaging and socially driven, I can speak not just for myself but also for all of us when I say that our entire world of communication as we know it is changing.
This may be in different ways and at different rates for different people, but it’s definitely changing. The Shirky article from our readings this week states this same viewpoint about news, saying that we now participate with news at “a different speed, scale and leverage than compared to just a decade ago.” The pipeline fashion of communication, whether it is about news, the weather or personal and work-related issues, is diminishing with new new media.
I’ve been involved in many forms of new new media that include Facebook, FourSquare and Twitter. I enjoy different aspects of each and learn pros and cons for each almost on a daily basis. What’s been of particular interest to me in these last few months, however, is blogging. Until recently, I hadn’t developed a real appreciation for bloggers and the blogging world. I wasn’t a blogger myself, nor did I personally know any bloggers, so I didn’t find it all too valuable. But becoming immersed in a blog of my own last semester helped me develop an acute interest for those souls brave enough to share their thoughts and ideas (in non-class settings) and make them available for virtually everyone.
As the Shirky article states, new new media is created by voluntary participation, and it is this participation by amateurs that makes our collective surplus of information more interesting, varied and valuable. Everyone gets a voice online and everyone has a right to judge what content they find valuable or worthy of passing along. This interaction in turn makes people from different parts of the world value this bowl of virtual ideas.
First Blog: the Good and the Bad
My first blog was created last semester as part of a Social Media class. For me, being able to blog alongside my classmates on the similar topics for an entire semester created an easy and inviting entry into the blogging world because I already knew some of the people posting and reading my posts. I didn’t feel thrown into an interactive world of strangers. But soon I began to participate in out-of-class blogs, posting comments and re-posting posts I liked in others’ blogs. Some of this interaction became even more valuable than what I was doing on my own blog.
I soon realized that the level of insightfulness of a blog post has little to do with whether or not I know the author in person. To some extent, leaving face-to-face interaction out of the picture makes it even easier to confidently post comments on blogs. In Global Forces, an article from Mckinsey Quarterly, the idea of an expanding global grid-interlinkedness is seen as one important force where tension and opportunity are high. It’s amazing to me to know that everyone, including myself, can equally participate in this global grid and add to the symbiotic world of new new media. It’s no longer possible to be a passive consumer.
I loved some of the characteristics of blogging that Lenvinson mentioned in New New Media. They’re not new, but they’re a reminder of why I’ve easily adapted to blogging and why blogging is so popular. He says that blogging (and new new media in general) is for everyone. Anyone can do it, and I realize now the truth in this statement. A year ago I wouldn’t have surprised myself if I said, “I will never be a blogger. I have nothing to say.” But having taken a class that forced me to blog regularly placed the world of blogging in a new light for me. Sometimes it’s not what you have to say, or what others think of what you write, but the mere act of writing that nurtures the soul and improves writing skills. I can attest to both of these.
Levinson also states that the success of blogging is unpredictable. And that’s one of the beauties of blogging for me. I go into it and type away expecting nothing in return, holding pride in knowing that I took the time to think, write, think and write. Although not exactly a blog, Levinson’s story of his surprise MySpace message from Stringer Bell shows how rewarding posts can be.
One of my favorite blogs, Today’s Letters, has a neat story. The blogger began by posting short and quirky letters on her Facebook wall. Friends and family enjoyed them so much they encouraged her to start a blog out of them, and last month, after not even a year of being in existence, Today’s Letters was named the best 2010 blog by The Blog Guidebook. In honor of Today’s Letters: Dear new new media, I’m falling in love with you more each day. Although you may not be perfect, the list of risks and opportunities you provide are endless, and that’s what adds to your beauty.
Permanence is another characteristic of new new media mentioned by Levinson. I have to admit I have difficulty grasping the notion of my thoughts taking on a permanent role and place in the online global village, as McLuhan would say. Oscar Wilde once said that “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.” When I post new blog entries, I am reminded of this quote. The act of publishing a new post and adding the finishing touches, like links and photos, always gives me satisfaction. However, I later re-read through my posts and realize that what I thought of as remarkable writing at the time I published it seems mediocre at best a week later.
“Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned”
But as Levinson adds, it’s much harder to abandon a blog post than a book simply because it is so easy to make changes when the entire blog is under your control. He also warns that editing posts can lead to confusion in your readers. This emphasizes the importance of proofing and rewriting before publishing. When I write for my blog, I make sure and proofread more often than I’m accustomed to before I place them online, specifically because I know those words will dry and stay in place faster and longer than the glue that keeps my coffee table together.
Though my blog for this semester caters only to student-related assignments and mostly likely won’t make the Top 10 Blogs of 2011, I’m delighted to know I’m a part of this long-lasting new new media trend. By simply participating in this new world, I am not guaranteed instant success but I am guaranteed a world of opportunities and exposure to blogs, news and communities. A Pew Internet Study on consuming news stresses how news is becoming more portable, personalized and participatory. The same can be said for many different facets of online life today. All we must do to reap the full benefits, whatever they might be, is jump into the new new media wagon of innovation and change and enjoy the ride.