From Broadcasting to Narrowcasting: Communication Parlance
by Aristee Georgiadou, February 4, 2018
As computers were invented to solve mathematical problems changing our habits with our families or our businesses, the convergence of telecommunications and computer technologies introduced information societies. The digital intensification of industrialism marked a huge shift to service production, the most prominent work force, dealing with information: a digital labor. Similarly, the de-massification of information through millions of small content would mark a gradual difference in communication yet a huge social change.
In media ecology a medium is an environment that defines human interaction; a social structure with rules and resources where people enter roles, adding a “dramaturgical” perspective. We employ our senses –radio is auditory, video is visual- and media become our extensions. The medium becomes the message, to quote Marshall McLuhan, as it changes the way we understand our world. In a symbolic level, using each medium requires knowledge of some codes, as to when we post or where, for example; like a language that makes sense.
Each cultural shift transforms society profoundly: writing lessened the role of talking elders, printing democratized information, electronic media further expanded the confines of who, where, when and to whom one could speak to, rendering the message equal to the social change a technology generates. The users of tools and platforms of the media today are active and create good, clever and unanticipated content. Thus we call them “prosumers” or “produsers” as they produce, share or participate in tweets, posts, videos etc. People-to-people, as Tim Berners Lee, put it in 2006, is what the web was conceived for.
If Web 2.0 for you is blogs and wikis, then that is people to people. But that was what the Web was supposed to be all along.
Media constantly assimilate and remodel other forms of media in “remediation” (a movie based on a novel or transmedia storytelling across platforms such as toys based on movies). In the same sense, new media refashion old media: “immediacy” occurs when the website of a TV station borrows video from the newsroom and “hypermediacy” when the medium is very obvious and acknowledged (a mirror in a painting reflecting the central image or an immersive game). All this content is now accessible in multiple devices to us.
The ever growing importance of media in our lives is manifest in the concept of “mediatization”: our lives cannot be experienced outside the media anymore. We are the media. We are increasingly recasting our social lives in order to fit to the media. It started from politics to spread down to everyday life communication, from family to business to learning, constructing a new social reality by stabilizing or speeding up a complex dialectic.
With this qualitative change and the mechanization of communication, “media logic” is created, a framework within which social action occurs. The way media work they influence other institutions as well, affecting the communication and relationships between sender and receiver. It’s not about the content per se. It’s about how the medium is perceived from environments that use other “logics”. News is broadcast differently on mass media compared to interpersonal digital platforms where the audience talks back. Journalism, commerce, politics and education are transformed by media logic.
Lindgren, S., 2017, Digital Media & Society, SAGE, pp 3-25.
Gomes, P.D., 2016, “Mediatization: A Concept, Multiple Voices”, Journal for Commuication Studies, vol. 9, no. 2, pp 197-212.