A Look Back On My Final Semester: How Studying New Media Has Affected This Blog

New Media is no longer the future of communication; New Media is the present we are all already living in. As a student and as a professional, I’ve come to realize that the current state of communication is what twenty years ago was science fiction, and though New Media will continue to adapt beyond current understanding, for the most part, the future is now.

Most of you, my dear followers, have been following me for the past six months, starting around the time NaNoWriMo came to its end. You probably followed this blog mostly for my personal day to day updates on my writing progress and the occasional book review. However, if you have stuck around you’ve seen my website transform from just a blog about my writing to a site in which I discuss real topics in more detailed blog posts, and most of it relates to my studies in New Media.

I feel like as I come to the end of my final semester of undergrad, on the cusp of graduating with a BA in New Media and Communication, it would be interesting to take a look back at some of the ideas I’ve tackled these past few months that relate back to lessons we have learned in my final course on New Media. While some of my posts are more detailed than others, and some of the flashier looking ones have the least amount of analytical substance, I would like to think most of you have read and enjoyed my takes on things we learned in my Senior Seminar class and how they are relevant to you, the readers of my blog.

When I first started my final semester of college, my first post regarding New Media was “Interconnected World: How New Media Has Lowered The Barrier To Entry For Global Communication“, a post in which I basically gave an outline of the history of digital media growth in the past few decades and how that changed the way global communication takes place. In this post, I made the claim that,

New technologies as well as the culture around global communication all are part of the idea of New Media.

Ignoring how clunky that is (yikes, was I half asleep when I wrote that?), I still believe that to be true. I do think that the primary function and the biggest success of New Media is the way that we are now able to communicate globally. While some of you are older than me, many of you are younger, and may not remember ye olden days in which just calling someone outside your area code would cost you extra money in long distance phone charges. Today, I can message a girl I know in Indonesia and the only barrier to communication is the time difference.

In “Women’s March 2017: A Textbook Example of New Media’s Contribution To Global Progress“, I used what was at the time very recent news as a relevant example of the ways in which those barriers to communication enabled a political movement to become a greater success than any expected it to be.

The reason that what started as a single planned event, the Women’s March on Washington, became a globally successful series of protests […] is because the way people communicate and the dynamic ways in which organization is possible has changed so much in just the last decade due to the rise of what we consider New Media.

This is as true today as it was when I wrote it. New Media makes not just communication easier, but it makes organization easier. We can access and arrange details that people all over the world can find at one location from their many locations all due to New Media. These logistical norms are something that twenty years ago was unheard of.

Just as New Media allows for a greater democratization of information and communication, so does it allow for a greater democratization of software and technology, which is what I talked about in “Is Open Source Really The Future?“, where I took on the history of the Open Source movement and addressed how it is continuing to progress. Open source is prevalent even if you don’t know that you have used it, as I exemplified by saying,

Most of us at some point have used open source software, whether we knew it or not. You’re using open source software right now. WordPress is an open source software.

We’re still all using that open source WordPress right this moment, and that in itself, is a democratization of access to technology, all due to New Media.

However, New Media goes into far more detail than just ‘lower barriers to communication’ and ‘democratization of access to technology’. I mentioned the ways in which what was once science fiction is now just science, and in one case, fiction itself, not even just science fiction, is what helped build the internet. In “How Literature Impacted The Internet As We Know It“, I talked about how in class, we talked about hypertext in the form of hypertext literature. It is always important for us to understand the origins of technology that we use every day because we find that it is often relevant to our personal interests, and with most of you readers being writers, this is a fun bit of information.

As the semester went on, I also shifted my focus from informative posts based on pure history and information and tried to tailor what I write for my audience. You guys are writers and readers and you want a more analytical approach to New Media, which can be found in “Artificial Intelligence: Not A Matter Of “Can We” But A Matter Of “Should We”“, in which I discussed the psychological implications of what AI androids and the desire to have them could mean about a person. I wrote, “Post-New Media: Cynicism and Modern Media Culture“, a think-piece on the ways my classmates are overwhelmingly more negative towards technological advancements and New Media than I am and how that relates to our class readings. With a small dip into the legal world in, “The Curse of Copyright“, in which I talked about the restrictions copyright can place on the amateur artist and how Lawrence Lessig feels about the future of copyright laws, I then decided to bring things back to the main focus of my audience.

You guys are readers and writers and though you probably dig the analytical stuff, you guys are really into literature and the concepts native to literary arts in the digital world. Relative to the discussion on copyright laws, I addressed the way that the restrictions of copyright in the literary world have relaxed more in recent years in “The Shifting Sands of Creative Writing: Authors Embracing Fan Fiction“, a post in which I addressed Henry Jenkins, one of the most popular writers to assign in New Media classes, and how his views of participatory culture in the form of fan fiction have shifted over time.

When it comes to participatory culture and fandoms, building an online persona is a part of being in a fandom, but it is also a part of being an author. In “How Virtual Is Your Reality?” I asked the question,

Think about your online life. How many of us have a carefully cultivated presence online behind which we build a persona for the world to see?

As writers, everything we do online for our official social media accounts is to cultivate a personal that will appeal to agents and publishers and readers. We want to sell our product, and when you are a writer, you are your product almost as much as your writing is.

To close out the semester, I decided to link what we learned in class to you as writers and readers by writing “Reading In The Age of the Internet“, a piece in which I theorize on how New Media has (or possibly hasn’t) shifted the way we read, and in “Are Video Games The Next Great Frontier For Storytelling?” I addressed the dark shape on the literary horizon that is telling digital stories via the most accessible medium for that: video games.

I started this series of blog posts on New Media as my final semester progressed with the intention of mostly just documenting what I learned. Instead, what I learned taught me how to utilize New Media best by aiming for a specific audience. In shifting focus from broad ideas to finding a way to relate what I learned to my audience’s interests, I am able to engage better with you guys. Through what we read and talked about in class and research outside of class, I learned how to take New Media and apply it to this blog to better success.

I think that’s a perfect example of how much my understanding of New Media has progressed over this semester, and hopefully, in reading my posts, my followers learned something, too.

Author: J. Chelsea Williford

Movie addict, reader, writer, pop culture lover.

2 thoughts on “A Look Back On My Final Semester: How Studying New Media Has Affected This Blog”

  1. WOW WOW WOW AMAZING POST! Such great insight into New Media and it’s impact on communication and literature as us, bibliophiles, know it! Likewise, I am finishing my BA this term in Comparative Literature and I have become fascinated with the computer space as a replacement of the printed book. In my senior thesis I focused much on early electronic literature (mainly hypertext and Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl) and have found the detrimental affects electronic literature can have on traditional readers in terms of space, navigation and even pleasurable reading. Your post reminds me a lot of the themes in terms of blogging and online communication that I read about in Adichie’s Americanah! Have you read the novel? It’s a great read and shows how the platform of communication greatly affects our relationships with not only others and the world around us, but even with ourselves!

    Liked by 1 person

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