Essay

Online media in everyday life

What can we do with online media?

Online media is a tool used to create, share, learn, research, interact and connect. Through the use of blogging, in the course Networked Media at RMIT University students were able to reflect on their usage of online media and how it impacted their everyday lives.

This essay will touch on authoring, publishing and distributing via the online sphere with a focus on blogging and social media. It will identify and evaluate how I specifically use online media as part of the current Web 2.0 online landscape and the social culture of my generation.

Literature review

Media is in a constant state of development and change. Originally, the term media is often linked to communication media “print media and the press, photography, advertising, cinema, broadcasting (radio and television) publishing and so on” (p.9). “The term ‘new media’ emerged to capture a sense that quite rapidly from the late 1980s on, the world of media and communications began to look quite different” (p.10). In more recent times, the term ‘new media’ has become a part of our vocabulary.  Lister, Dovey, Giddings, Grant & Kelly describe new media as “those methods and social practices of communication, representation, and expression that have developed using the digital, multimedia, networked computer and the ways that this machine is held to have transformed work in other media: from books to movies, from telephones to television” (2013, p.2). Following new media, there is online media, where the Internet too became a source of entertainment, news, education, etc.

Online media is connected to the two phases of ‘the web’ we’ve had so far: Web 1.0 & Web 2.0. Web 1.0 was the first stage of ‘ the web’. Hinton & Hjorth describe it as the time where the population of Internet users was growing rapidly and businesses started to see the potential in the web as a commercial space (2013, p.12). In summary, web 1.0 was a ‘less evolved, less sophisticated and less refined’ version of web 2.0 (2013, p.12). Web 2.0 is linked to the new nature of the Internet, where there is a participatory culture surrounding web use. Users can create and distribute content, interact with others, and use the web beyond the confines of their desktop (Hinton & Hjorth, 2013, pp. 16-20). Within Web 2.0, the creation and rise of social media took place. Kaplan & Haenlein defines social media as “a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content” (2010, p.61).  Today, it’s where 75% of Internet users are spending their time (Kaplan & Haenlein 2010, p.60).

Evidence

During the first half of semester one in the class Networked Media, students were introduced to the world of blogging. The blogs were used “to document [our] practice, encourage and support reflective and process based learning, to nurture peer support and learning…and in developing multiliteracies that allow participation within contemporary information ecologies as creators, rather than being limited to being passive consumers” (Miles 2006, p.189)

We learnt the nuts and bolts of blogging, such as how to embed videos and audio, utilise linking and tagging while authoring, publishing and distributing our own content. Over a period of one week, we had to blog our daily experience with online media. This including stating what we engaged with, authored, published and distributed and how and why we did.

It was a very reflective process which made me question why I use the online media I do and how my usage is impacted by the generation and social setting I live in.

Evaluation

Blogging is something I hadn’t done since I was in high school, so the process of documenting and writing regularly to an online audience (if you can call it that) was a welcome reminder of my youth as a wannabe fashion writer.

As Rheingold states “the mindful use of digital media doesn’t happen automatically” (2012, p.1) thus the diligent process of documenting my steps as I journeyed through the online media space was a new and interesting experience for me. Suddenly I realised that all three focuses in the Networked Media course so far – authoring, publishing and distributing – had become quite foreign to me on a personal level. Only once during the 7 days of documenting my online media use did I author, publish or distribute content for myself. This, of course, disregards emails, iMessage and Whatsapp.

This was fascinating to me because I am a part of “the first fully global generation, shaped by the 21st century, connected through digital devices and engaged through social media” (McCrindle, 2016, para 1) and as a result, we are supposed to share everything we do on social media. However, I only actively engaged with social media on saturday when I posted on Instagram and Snapchat. The more I thought about it, I realised that my friends aren’t extremely active on social media either. Yes, my documentation proves that I was on social media every day, but I wasn’t participating. Vice Writer Jane Helpern summed up what seems to be Generation Z’s consensus perfectly –  “Sure, many of us still scroll through our feeds on auto-pilot, mindlessly double tapping photos of cacti, skimming heartful captions while feeling nothing. But, overall, we’re withdrawing from social media in favor of decluttering and clearing our heads, seeking out meaningful and authentic connections, and forgoing the dime-a-dozen opinions of others in favor of experts(2015, para 10). In fact, according to a Nielson report, it’s “Generation X (ages 35-49) [that] spends the most time on social media” (2016, p.1). A win for Generation Z? I think so. However, this made it hard when it came to creating content for my documentation blog posts where I authored, published or distributed content – especially the latter two.

This is not to say I didn’t author, publish or distribute content for the rest of the week. I did, it just wasn’t on a personal level. I spent a lot of time authoring for my internship. This meant creating content, such a bios, press releases and instagram captions that were then to be published online. As discussed in my Friday blog post I found that while I was authoring the content, I wasn’t publishing or distributing it. Instead, this was left to someone with more ‘authority’ than myself. I hadn’t really contemplated it before, but the documentation made me think about how this sits with me. There have been times where I’ve written articles (e.g.) that have been published under someone else’s name because I hadn’t had access to the site. This article has then been distributed on Facebook and shared with someone else’s name attached to it. Since we also discussed and learnt about copyright this semester in Networked Media, now reflecting it doesn’t seem right that someone else should (seemingly) receive credit for something I wrote and therefore own the copyright to.

Through my documentation and seeing how much I used online media & social media for work, as well as my own use of apps, google and websites, I was made aware of how important online media is for businesses of every kind. Perhaps this is how I’m engaging with the online sphere now. Instead of putting myself out there online, I am connecting with businesses. In everyday life I am implementing the help of businesses  (E.g. Uber, PTV, Spotify, Online Shopping sites)  and for work I am creating content to promote businesses.

Conclusion

In my own life, online media is not as ‘social’ as expected. Instead it is utilised to help me in my everyday activities, for work and studying. It seems while I was born in Generation Z, a generation that grew up as online media itself was growing, myself, my friends and the rest of my Generation aren’t the top users of social media –  it’s Generation X. More scholarly exploration into the reasons why this is, beyond a general ‘feeling’, would be beneficial to this essay.

Through the blogging practices taken place in the Networked Media course I have been able to reflect on my online media use. Here, I have able to seen my positive and negative habits. As a PR and communications student, learning about the blogging practice (specifically copyright and ethics) as well as practicing the writing skill on a daily basis will benefit me in the professional public relations field. It’s also advantageous to reflect on internet users habits, as it highlights where and how you can target them.

References
  1. Dovey, J, Giddings, S, Grant, I, Kelly, K & Lister, M 2009, New Media: A Critical Introduction, London: Routledge
  2. Haenlein, M & Kaplan, A.M 2010, ‘Users of the World, Unite! The Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media’, Business Horizons, vol.53, no.1 pp. 59-68
  3. Helpern, J 2015, Why generation Z are deleting their social media and going offline, i-D Vice, viewed 8 April 2016, <https://i-d.vice.com/en_gb/article/why-generation-z-are-deleting-their-social-media-accounts-and-going-offline>
  4. Hinton, S & Hjorth L 2013,  Understanding Social Media, Sage Publications,  London, United Kingdom
  5. McCrindle 2016, Social Media, Generation Z, viewed 5 April 2017, <http://generationz.com.au/social-media/>
  6. Miles, A 2006, ‘Blogs in Media Education: A Beginning’, Australian Screen, edn. 41, pp.187-192
  7. Nielsen 2016, 2016 Nielsen social media report, Social studies: a look at the social landscape, Nielsen, viewed 5 April 2017 <http://www.nielsen.com/content/dam/corporate/us/en/reports-downloads/2017-reports/2016-nielsen-social-media-report.pdf>
  8. Rheingold, H 2012, ‘Introduction: Why you need digital know-how – why we all need it’, The European Business Review

 

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