At Long Last…

My reflection about New Media through this WordPress blog can be summarized as a great and meaningful learning experience. Aside from the fact that this is the first time I set and keep up with a blog of any kind, the thought of anyone reading–and liking my posts is addicting and gratifying. Besides, it makes me happy to see that finally I am contributing to the Web 2.0 culture.

New Media is present in every aspect of our lives; from the music in our iPods to the video mashups we share and the memes we create and send to virally become famous, it is now a kind of a new footprint, a digital footprint that for good or for worse will follow us from now on. New Media allows us create music, art, radio, images, pictures, blogs, videos, even create our own news to instantly be shared to the world.

New Media no longer refers exclusively to the physical aspect of technology but the human aspect as well. Just as technology is changing we are changing with it as well. We are getting more dependent on having our relationship status ‘updated’ to the point that some are taking it so seriously that if is not on Facebook, the relationship is not ‘official’.

Radio and TV will never be the same. From a passive medium both became dynamic and interactive. Audience can now interact with their favorite shows through Facebook, Twitter, and other social media tools. Shows like Glee allow fans to form communities from their Fan page, download in advance songs from the show from iTunes, and follow the cast in Twitter. Radio stations like RadioLab are taking advantage of social media as well to reach audience from all ages and education backgrounds by allowing users to listen and download shows from different social media tools like podcasts, iTunes, and widgets.

The music industry has also adapted to New Media. As the Internet revolutionized how we can create and share information, the way we listen music has changed as well. Suddenly, we are able to create what we want to hear and how we want to hear it. Talented people in the past needed to be ‘discovered’ by the music industry. Not so anymore; anyone can make a cheap, home video and upload it to YouTube. It is just a matter of hours before it goes viral to be acclaimed worldwide. Such was the case of three young siblings called Los Vazquez Sounds, whose remake of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” made them an Internet sensation in only days.

Journalism on the other hand, has also adjusted to New Media. We see now regular citizens reporting news from the spot aided with the camera in their cell phones. Pretty neat indeed but at the same time, we are also witnessing how fast news can travel through social media and its immediate consequences. Such was the case of Samantha Brick, a British journalist whose article “There are downsides to looking this pretty: Why women hate me for being beautiful” published on the MailOnline, drew over 5,000 comments in just two days from supporters to haters about her article.

We also see New Media reflected in movies. “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” portraits a young troubled girl that through information and technology she gains control of her life. Throughout the movie we see the use of Apple laptop computers to hack and download valuable information to catch a serial killer. Films many times reflect the technology culture we are living now.

Another important aspect of New Media is that it brings the world to us. Thanks to Google Maps and other technologies such as “krpano”–a high-definition image viewer–we are able to virtually visit cities and museums located thousands of miles away. The Vatican among other entities, have already benefited of such technology by having a virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel that renders a breathtaking 3600 tour with zoom in capabilities to fully admire Michelangelo’s art.

After analyzing each of these categories from art to music, film, radio, TV, social media, journalism, and video, I see why they are such an integral part of New Media.  Any tool that emerges enhancing or changing the way live, coexist, and deal with each other has always been categorized as ‘new media’. Whether it was the wheel, the Guttenberg Press, or the Steam Machine, somehow each one marked an important stage in our evolution. The New Media we are experiencing in the last fifteen years however differ from any previous media in the sense that not only we produce it and consume it, but the terms dynamic, collaborate, interactive, share, connect, and instant are all interchangeable and synonyms of each other. Additionally, new tools and applications emerge everyday making it easy for us, the users, to keep producing, collaborating, sharing, and using information for this emerging media I call New Media 2.0 to differentiate it from any past media.

Advertisements

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and New Media

This past Friday, taking advantage on how films have become more available to us, I rented “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” from Redbox, right outside a chain superstore. I heard that Rooney Mara, the girl who played the tattooed girl, was an Oscar nominee for best actress in a leading role.  So I thought, the movie has to be good. Aside from her excellent performance, the movie itself is a great example about identity, technology, and culture that characterizes new media.

The plot is on how Mara as the role of Lisbeth Salander, a young computer hacker, along with journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played Daniel Craig) are hired by a powerful rich man, Henrik Vanger, to help him find his great-niece Harriet, who he suspects was murdered 36 years ago by a member of his family.  Both Lisbeth and Blomkvist uncover a series of barbaric crimes committed 40 years ago in relation to Harriet’s disappearance, before finding the real killer and Harriet alive.

Lisbeth during the plot, becomes both the victim of abuse and the avenging, as she takes revenge on her legal guardian who physically and sexually abused her.  As a young, petite, social-unfitted woman, once taken advantage for her physical appearance, she gains control through information.  As a computer wiz, Lisbeth is able to video tape the moment she’s been abused and use it to her advantage to blackmail her abuser. She threatens her legar guardian that no only she has that video that proofs the abuse, but if anything happens to her or any other innocent girl under his care, the video will go ‘viral’ and everyone will know what happened. After this, the abuse stops.

Throughout the movie, we see that all characters use iMac laptops, as if to denote coolness, knowledge, and the last innovation of technology.  Lisbeth is able to hack bank accounts and passwords from Hans-Erik Wennerström – a corrupt billionaire financier and responsible for Blomkvist fall – to steal over 2 billion dollars to later deposit to her account. Although the culture of a homeless female is perceived as weak and helpless at the mercy of males to abuse her, it is her ability and knowledge to extract and hack information what gives her power and enables her to regain her life.

In an analogy to reality, information has become the new economy in new media. We all know the power and consequences of a video or photograph going viral on the Internet, and how Facebook for example, tailors its advertising based on what we like and who our friends are; or the aftermaths of seeing an identity stolen over the Internet. Although the movie “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is an extreme on the use of new media, it gives us a glimpse on how valuable information and technology can be.

References:

movieclips [movieclips]. (2011, June 2). The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo HD Trailer – David Fincher Version [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/WVLvMg62RPA

Los Vazquez Sound: An example of music by users for users

When we talk about music and new media we refer to the before and after, yesterday and today with an important point in between.  We all remember twenty or so years ago how music was made and how it ended up in our hands.  An artist made a deal with a record company to make an album. The music and voice got recorded in a special studio and then vinyl records and cassettes would be produced and distributed to approved vendors.  Then the artists and managers would physically travel from city to city, country to country promoting the songs in radio stations, TV shows, and printed materials.  And that was pretty much it.

The record company would be in control of all extra merchandise such as posters, t-shirts, and other accessories that fans would get at record stores and concerts.  As time passed the music industry moved along by producing videos for each song to be broadcasted in music channels such as MTV and CD’s emerged which made our listening experience better because we were able to skip songs without waiting for rewinding/fast-forwarding, or hearing broken records. However, us users were forced many times to buy the whole album even if we only wanted a single song.

From the mid 90’s and on is the cutting point where music is defined as what it was and what it is now.  With the commercialization of the Internet and the birth of the MP3 files, a format that compresses digital audio files, made it easy sending music from computer to computer without sacrificing sound quality (Taintor, 2004). In 2003 Apple releases iTunes, the first successful online music store and in 2005 YouTube, a video-sharing Website is born.

This chain of events as part of new media has made our music listening experience reach levels as never before.  We no longer depend on record companies to buy or create music.  We no longer have to buy a whole album for one song. We no longer have to conform ourselves with a single video, or travel to a store to buy our music.  We now can create, record, produce, distribute, any song, any video at any moment at any time.

Take for example a video by three Mexican, young siblings, who remade Adele’s video and song “Rolling in the deep”, making them Internet sensations within days of releasing their video on November 2011. One brother plays the drums, the other plays the piano, while the little sister is the vocalist.  After few weeks of posting the video, they signed a contract with Sony Music Mexico where the Vazquez family has full control over the project and Sony Music is only the distributor (Fox News Latino, 2012). Internet and YouTube enabled these youngsters create and distribute their own music and video to become an Internet sensation (see video below).


(Vazquez Sounds, 2012)

To add to the listening experience, the fun does not stop here.  Among the millions of users who really loved the Vazquez brothers’ performance, someone went even further creating a video of his own mixing the Vazquez Sound video and Adele’s video, producing a very interesting mix (see video below).  The user was able to merge each music’s version with the images, creating one single, flawless song that one cannot help but enjoy and wonder how creative the end product is.  Something like this would not have been possible twenty years ago where control for the music was solely by the record companies.  Although there are still strict copyright guidelines to follow when dealing with copyrighted material, music companies are also becoming more flexible by allowing users to re-make songs as this is also publicity for the real author.


(Huaysara Enciso, 2011)

References

Taintor, C. (2004, May 27). Chronology: Technology and the music industry. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from Frontline – The way the music died: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/music/inside/cron.html

Fox News Latino. (2012). Vazquez Sounds Takes Over Mexico. Retrieved April 10, 2012, from Fox News LAtino: http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/entertainment/2011/12/24/vazquez-sounds-takes-over-mexico/

Vazquez Sounds. (2012, March 2). Vazquez Sounds – The Show (Cover)
[Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7UFm6ErMPU&list=PL7E749432B729E4CA&index=5&feature=plcp

Huaysara Enciso, Alan. (2011, November 23). Los Vazquez Sounds & Adele – Rolling In The Deep [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cI4vdqwjb_s&feature=related