What a difference a decade makes in modern media: Part 2

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science-and-technologyConvergence: a phenomenon whereby diverse media types merge. Nicholas Negroponte of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) first noted this phenomenon in 1978. Whether one applies the Technologies Acceptance Model or a Uses and Gratifications Theory (ie Media Dependency), the best evidences suggest that the smartphone and tablet computer provide the primary devices of media convergence today. What media cannot be experienced by the use of a smartphone or tablet computer?

While attempts have been made with Smart TV technologies, a large screen on the wall lacks the intimate interaction of a device in the palms of one’s own hands. As the mediating link between users and information space, touch and gestures on a glass surface is more kinesthetically intimate than clicking a mouse connected to a desktop computer, touching a touchpad on a laptop, or manipulating the buttons of a remote for a Smart TV. To be sure, while all of these activities are interactive, they lack direct contact with content.

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This new level of intimacy between users and content requires a different approach to content creation and presentation.  Static web pages that offer little in the way of user interaction are passé, but you’ll still find them as standard fare on the Internet. Users today want to manipulate and create content. And why not let them? For example, Facebook and many other social media sites do nothing more than offer a way for users to create their own content and interact with others in their community. They create Facebook every moment and every hour 365 days a year—all for free and to the mutual benefit of fellow users and Facebook profits.

It has been my experience, however, that most institutions and businesses like to control all content and user experiences on their websites. While it is important to not lose site of the mission and purpose of the organization, there needs to be moderation that demonstrates an appropriate and thoughtful use of new media. Otherwise institutions and businesses risk suffering from technological Neurasthenia, thereby, alienating their users and quickly becoming irrelevant.

We have seen major changes in new media and traditional media within the last decade. These changes provide challenges but opportunities as well for those bold and bright enough to see the opportunities converged media offer. It will only be those who seek refuge in their towers of brick and mortar that will fail to leverage the energy of these inherently powerful media assets.  Don’t fear the future for it will surely come!