What can we do with online media? When hearing that question, it really makes my brain go in a million different directions. Endless possibilities, and all you need is a device and an internet connection. The easiest way to answer this, was to analyse and involve myself in the online world itself. Not watching from a distance, but getting my hands dirty and exploring. Discovering the endless possibilities of authoring, distributing and publishing involved in networked media. And ‘look(ing) at media as triggers for experiences and for making things happen.” (Gauntlett 2015 pg 7) The different apps and websites that could be used are endless, as are the devices we can access them on. Our need for these social media websites, and utility apps has slowly increased. And with this, the online media possibilities have grown alongside our dependency on them. As this need and want for them heightens, the more normal it becomes for us to be on them a lot of the time.
Throughout my new media discovery this semester, i undertook an experiment which included documenting my online media use every day for a week. In dot pot form, i listed each website or app i used. I then expanded on each of these with how and why they were used. There were some forms that were mentioned in every single post, and then a few that were recorded on some days, but not all. The most commonly recorded included the social media platforms Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. On two of the days, this media use included authoring (taking pictures, writing captions), publishing (posting) and distributing (sharing with friends/family) the content. On the other days, the documentation mainly consisted of consuming and only small amounts of authoring and distributing content was recorded. The tasks on these days included; liking posts on Instagram and Facebook, tagging people on Facebook posts (distributing already made content to friends, and opening/viewing snapchats, then taking timed photos and sending them to friends (authoring and distributing privately to specific people). The use of messenger/imessage to communicate with other people was also a common thing mentioned throughout all posts. The other forms of online media that were used all came under more of a practical category. There were some websites/apps that were used for school purposes. These include; Googledrive, Gmail, and Blackboard. They were all used for common educational purposes, and were consumed rather than used for an authoring and distributing method (to find readings, discover information about lectures). Transport related apps were also used on multiple days to help with the travel – this is obviously an important part of everyday life and is something that is very practical (Parkhound, Ptv, Maps). Other forms used to help get through everyday life were; deputy (used for work – consumer and publishing/distributing), Weatherzone (discovering the weather – consumer based) and Tidal (music streaming app – consumer based). In summary, it can be concluded that half of the online media use recorded was for entertainment and communication value, and the other half was used for a practical, helpful and constructive use.
After analysing my own online media use, reading about other students (eg: blog 1, blog 2), and merely just observing everyone around me, it has made me realise how repetitive and consistent mine and others involvement in the online world is. Constantly in contact with the same apps, doing the same consumer actions, day in, day out, multiple times a day. But it seems so natural to need these sorts of apps in our lives. We use imessage and messenger to communicate with our family and friends, we use Facebook to entertain ourselves and build our relationships with people we’re maybe not that close to. Just as Hintong and Hjorth (2013, pg 4) argued “friendship and intimacy can be both amplified and commodified through social media.” And they’re right. It might be a better option to build bonds and relationships in real life physical time, but now a days, with everyone busy lives, and other commitments, it’s become a lot easier to utilise this resource of the online networked media we have. We see something interesting in the street, or we like the look of our food.. And we take a photo of it, posting to apps like Snapchat or Instagram. In a click of a button we can create something that’s instantly shared with both our close friends and family, or if we want, the whole world. Rheingold (2012) was correct to say that ‘People share a lot more online these days. And i think in general that’s a good thing.’ We don’t get looked at funny, people don’t laugh. And bet if I went out for lunch today and started taking photos of my meal, nobody would even turn their head.
Then there’s all the other forms of media usage that aren’t social media. The weather app, maps, and the programs we use for educational purposes. Most people will probably agree with me when i say, these are the ones we really need to get through our lives. It seems so natural to pull out your phone when you don’t know where to go, or you don’t know what you want to wear for the day. How would we know when that assignment was due, or what reading to read before the next tutorial? We never think, what if we didn’t have these? We just open our laptops, type in what we want, and it’s there. Just like our social media apps, these practical ones don’t seem out of the ordinary to pull up when we need to use them. Every day a new app or website is created for a new purpose or need. The online world is evolving, as we as people do too. “Once the internet changed the world; now the world is changing the internet.” (Lovink) Essentially, the way online media works, makes us all feel in control. Its there when we need it, we post when we choose, we distribute content to who we want it to reach. It’s about the users and our needs, and maybe that’s why it’s become something so reliable and normalised.
I believe diving into the online word, analysing my own media use, and paying more attention to others, was a successful way to answer the question asked at the start. What can we do with online media? Although my findings and reflections could be relevant to my world and the people in it. I wasn’t as much referring to all countries and demographics, merely the people relevant to me. Around the world online media is used in hundreds of different ways, and if i was to discuss or explore this question further, i believe this could be something that i could look into more. Saying that, i still believe that with the help of the research, readings, and discoveries, my argument was clearly demonstrated that the online media is important, useful and an extremely natural part of mine and a large portion of the populations lives. Using it for communication, practicalities, and for pure entertainment is something that will continue.. Until the next big thing is created. And i’m sure, just the web 2.0 world we live in now, it will be influenced by the user.
Hinton, S & Hjorth, Larissa 2013, Understanding Social Media, London, SAGE publications
Rheingold, R 2012, episode 41: Howard Rheingold, podcast, MIT Press Podcasts, April 2012, viewed April 2017, <https://mitpress.mit.edu/sites/default/files/MITP_Rheingold.mp3>
Gauntlett, D 2015, Making Media Studies: The Creativity Turn in Media Communications Studies, Peter Lang, New York