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.

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Single in a relationship? It’s complicated…

Another aspect that New Media took over is in our relationships’ status to the point that is not “official” until it is posted.  Facebook for example offers several “relationship status” for us to choose from:  Single, In a relationship, Engaged, Married, It’s complicated, In an open relationship, Widowed, Separated, Divorced, and In a civil partnership, that pretty much accomodate most common situations.

What is funny about is that many people take such status very seriously.  No longer is enough to live through it, but now we must typecast ourselves in a set of categories predetermined by a technology tool to display–and validate any personal relationship. Author Ilana Gershon explains in her book “The Breakup 2.0, Disconnecting over New Media”, how human relations from conception to breaking up have been adapting to new media. In the adaptation process, Gershon discusses how from old way face-to-face discussions to new media and technology, the medium we choose to breakup a relationship becomes part of the breakup itself (Gershon, 2010).

In her book, Gershon mentions some examples where the “Facebook official” status overpasses any previous one-to-one discussion to either begin or end a relationship.  One of her interviewees mentions how a phone discussion and a Skype conference to breakup with her boyfriend wasn’t enough until she changed her Facebook status to ‘single’ that he finally took it as ‘official’ that the relationship indeed had ended (Gershon, 2010, 72).

A Facebook relationship status is more complicated than the relationship itself. Whether we are married, single, in a troubled relationship, widow, or separated, we are getting to the point that we no longer decide in our relationship status but how social media technologies “presuppose certain kinds of social relationships” (Gershon, 2010, 60) like how we must ‘abide’ to the terms Facebook use as a ‘relationship’. Another factor is that we are not allowed to mix any of those relationship as a status.  Could it be that I am separated, in an open relationship, and it’s complicated, all at the same time?

Facebook allows us only ten options to declare our relationship status from a drop-down menu and with no option to add a new one.  What if out of those 10 options none of them accomodate a particular person’s relationship? After all everyone is different and no relationship is ever the same. Therefore we must choose ‘wisely’ what option we choose because apparently will affect not only our status, but how we will be perceived as well. “Making a relationship ‘Facebook official’ has certain social consequences” (Gershon, 2010, 64).

Those who know me know that I have been happily married for the last fifteen years. My husband does not have a Facebook account and I just never bothered to update my status as I considered unnecessary. I know what I know and those who know me know that too.  For the sake for this argument, I decided to test what could possibly happen if I updated my Facebook status, would anyone care? Out the ten options I chose “It’s complicated” and wrote down my husband’s name and clicked save. After all, isn’t life sometimes complicated living with our spouses? Funny, I thought.  Within two minutes I had two posts and three ‘Likes’.  One post was from a close friend and the other one from a family member with a comment of dismay.  By the following morning, more comments varied from worried family members and friends wanting to know if everything was OK with us.

It turns out that my husband’s name never showed up in the News feed because he does not have a Facebook account, so my status read as follows “Sylvia is in a relationship and it’s complicated.” Because there was no option for me to accomodate to my real status of being happily married although complicated at times–like every marriage out there, I had to select “It’s complicated” and Facebook added for me the phrase “in a relationship” prior to that.  No wonder everyone freaked out, it literally reads that I am in a relationship with someone else and the term ‘complicated’ adds to the suspense, and the fact that I am married, this translates that I am in a relationship with other than my husband.  Complicated that is.

The social consequence of this aside of friends thinking I am a femme fatale, now I have to explain with another status update that I meant to say I am married, complicated at times (like everybody else), but happily married with my husband.  This is the same situation people have to face when they announce their engagement on Facebook and six months later they announce the break up.  Besides of dealing with the ups and down of the relationship, now an explanation and justification must follow to all those reading our posts.

Facebook Official Status

Facebook Official Status

Below is a video I found in YouTube about a young couple getting married in 2009 and right after the Priest pronounced them “man and wife” both the bride and the groom took out their phones to update their relationship status to “Married” in both Facebook and Twitter.  Indeed this is such a happy moment to celebrate and share with your loved ones and as the Priest in the video says, “is official on Facebook is official in my book and now you may kiss your bride” (Hanna, 2009), this video illustrates how critical such “official status” being updated in social media applications has become in our lives in order to ‘validate’ our relationships.


(Dana, 2009)

References

Gershon, I. (2010). The Breakup 2.0: Disconnecting over New Media. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Hanna, Dana [Locuester]. (2009, November 22). At My Wedding Twitterring and Facebooking at the Altar [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/VSkT5XykJzo

Images Sources:

http://www.thefunnyblog.org/tag/funny-wedding/

http://kahnoodle.tumblr.com/post/16080195140/are-you-putting-too-much-about-your-relationship-on

http://www.lemondrop.com/2010/10/07/modern-etiquette-when-to-update-your-facebook-relationship-stat/

http://psd-tech.blogspot.com/2010/04/cheth-studios-40-hilarious-facebook.html

http://www.meldmagazine.com.au/2011/10/facebook-relationship-status/

Glee for New Media!

TV Guide magazine published in April 3, 1953

TV Guide - Interesting Facts - 20th Century Magazine United States - History by Zim

What New Media has to do with the way we watch TV now?  What’s different from 20, 30, 40  years ago? In the 50’s shows like “I Love Lucy” and “The Honeymooners” began captivating an early audience and people got information about their favorite shows through TV Guide, which in turn the magazine became the most popular vehicle to advertise TV shows, selling billions of copies (TV Guide, 2011).

The 70’s and 80’s saw a brig progress with the invention of cable, VCR’s and video game consoles.  People were able to view more shows along with the ability of recording them and reviewing in them at any time (Monaghan, 2012).  TV itself became the new media to spread information and advertise, along with printed material.

The Internet in the mid 90’s brought the breaking point in technology and what it emerged as new media. A new technological change emerged and with the spread of the personal computer, people soon saw information at their fingertips (Monaghan, 2012). Later, DVD players, LCD TVs, and digital technology such as TiVo, forever changed how we see TV.  Nowadays we are able to video record, pause, rewind and fast forward live TV, we are able to download movies from the Internet to our TV’s and we can even watch a movie from mobile devices.

TV shows also became interactive where the audience is able to determine the plot’s outcome by ‘voting’ through text messages with their cell phones. No longer we rely on a single source to get information about our favorite show.  We can record it, download it, buy the music tracks through iTunes, and make our own version of it in YouTube.  TV shows producers also have the opportunity to connect with their fans immediately through social media tools such as Facebook and Twitter, allowing them to form communities that evolve about their love for the actors and the show.

Take for example Glee, a musical comedy series from the Fox network that aired in 2009, becoming a huge success in a short period of time.  The show that features the daily life of a group of friends at a high school, all determined to practice a musical show for a big competition, benefits from new media to promote and sell music and merchandise about the show.    After the show airs on Tuesdays, people can see the full episode again via TV On Demand or online on their Website.  However to see the newest episode online, the episode automatically ‘unlocks’ after eight days that aired on TV.  Further, people can get the soundtracks in iTunes in advance and mobile devices right after the show airs.

The Glee Official Website (http://www.fox.com/glee/) besides of providing links to past episodes, users can shop for iPhone apps, Glee for Wii, assorted merchandise such as DVD’s, CD’s, books, and T-Shirts, among other items. Fans can also join the Glee Facebook page and follow them on Twitter among where people can also follow members of the cast individually (see image below). New media certainly has changed the way we watch TV by providing us instant access to our favorite shows, artists, and merchandise like never before.  Not only we have access to it but we have the opportunity to interact through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Twitter, and Pinterest, and other social media tools with the main characters that once we thought, as many stars, unreachable for the regular person.

Glee, the social hub

Official Social Media page for Glee

References

TV Guide [Photograph]. (2011). Retrieved April 15, 2012, from: http://www.historybyzim.com/2011/08/tv-guide/

Monaghan, E. (2012). Television through the decades and the ways it changed our world. Retrieved April 15, 2012, from Top ten reviews – Tech media network: http://www.techmedianetwork.com/our-brands/TopTenREVIEWS.html