Stephen was telling me about a conversation he was having with a friend who had been in marketing for longer than he cared to mention. The subject of new media came up and his friend hit the roof. ‘Don’t talk to me about new media’, he said ‘there is no such thing – there is just media.’ I think that Stephen made a note not to raise the topic again.
His friend had a point though. The media is not new even if the vehicles are. New media has used technology to carry messages to people, then so did the television when it was new, as did the radio, the newspaper and even the town cryer. (Can we count a bell as new technology?)
None of their messages were necessarily new, just the method of transit.
Whenever we see the rise of a new way of communicating it is accompanied by the claim that it will kill off all of its rivals. The Internet was going to sound the death knell for printed media. We are all going to read everything of screen yet, despite adjustments in circulation numbers, the market for books, magazines and even newspapers, is still robust.
The prediction was that the Internet was going to do away with television yet now we see the merging of technologies with internet TVs and so many new entrants to broadcast media. There is so much more competition now in this market.
Technology was going to do away with physical music media and for a time it looked like this was going to be true yet now we see a resurgence in vinyl recordings that give a more realistic, less polished experience to the listener.
News of their demise is premature and what is happening instead is that things find their new levels. Technologies come and go yet the rise of something new does not mean that it will ultimately replace what it is competing against.
Indeed, I have started to wear my wristwatches again.