In what ways do new media devices affect our communication activities and practices, as well as larger social arrangements and organizations?
Communication and information technologies have gone through significant changes in the recent past. These changes have resulted in emergence of new media which have then affected knowledge creation and communication activities and practices substantially. Humanities scholars have different perceptions on how these new media such as the internet and other digital media affect communication activities and practices. Due to convergence of the new media where people combine computing, communications and contents of the media, it has become possible to conduct both social and institutional activities interactively in digitalized media environment (Rieger, 2010). Such communication activities are often effected by a network of ICT devices such as mobile phones, televisions and computers. New media combines and integrates data, sound, text and images. It then stores and distributes them through networks based on fibre-optics, microwave transmissions and satellites. This causes communication to occur between individuals or groups of individuals across the world. There are three broad ways through which the new media devices affect communication activities and practices, as well as larger social arrangements and organizations. These are: acting as a medium of scholarly communication, acting as a base of artistic and creative processes, and enhancement of cultural interaction and socialization (Rieger, 2010).
The new media devices enhance scholarly communication through the creation, organization, representation, analysis and communication of scholarly content. ICT devices such as internet enhance synchronous and asynchronous online interactions which can be used to provide broad and convenient access to scholarly information easily. The new media also converges or brings together several computing, communications and media content and stores and distributes them through networks which eventually facilitate learning, teaching and research. In this situation, it can be argued that the new media uses its convergence capability to facilitate scholarly communication activities and practices as well as enhancing effective dissemination of information within institutions of learning (Rieger, 2010). Some New media devices such as the internet are also characterized by content analysis and visualization tools which are used in various ways to facilitate scholarly work. For instance, when a scientist wants to present a research on science, he/she may use these tools to collect, represent and analyse scientific information.
The second method of using new media to enhance communication activities is the use of the new digital media to present artistic and creative activities (Rainie & Wellman, 2012). New media act as media of expressing artistic work. For instance, film and digital editing tools are some of the new media tools which can be used to by artists to express their artistic works and creativity. This gives the artists a way of earning their living through work as well as enhancing an interaction between them and the other members of the society. Digitally generated sound can also be used by musicians to produce their music and earn their living through them. This new medium has enhanced quality music production and has made music production easier and more effective. Digital sound media can also be used by musicians and visual studies to pass information to a wide range of audience. In fact, new media has also facilitated convergence of digital sound and visual systems and the internet. This has given rise to Youtube and other known social media which can be used to record music and videos so as to be downloaded and used for entertainment and education purposes by internet users. This indicates that new media enhances communication across the globe through visual and audio educative and entertaining clips on the internet. New media can also affect our communication activities by acting as new sources of intellectual and aesthetic experiences (Rieger, 2010). For instance, audio and video media can be used to add intimacy to oral history and literature. This makes learning and acquisition of knowledge more interesting, practical and easy.
Finally, new media affects interactions among different members of the society through digital culture. Through the new media, knowledge and value norms and cultures are evolving fast. This way, new media has been able to influence interactions in the society significantly. For instance, the social media has played a big role in influencing the culture and social interactions of the world (Rieger, 2010). Such social media networks as Myspace, Tweeter, Facebook and Blogs have integrated world societies into networks of conversations and other communication practices. This has implicated on the communication and learning patterns of various members of the society. The social media has also facilitated exchange of culture through interactions in the social media, hence affecting communication and socialization patterns significantly.