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” New Media”, Old Media – How Do We Use It?

One of the cool features of  WordPress blogs is a snazzy little feature, called “clicks”. You find it under your overall blog stats and what it does is allow you to see which links people have clicked in your post. I am usually reluctant to reinvent the wheel when I am writing and so, rather than writing massive posts, will attempt to link my reader into further information or substantiating information about what I am writing about. The links aren’t meant to be exhaustive, rather jumping off points to more info or fill in the blanks – like how did I get from point A —> Conclusion B. My links hopefully show my trail of thought, much the way Hansel and Gretel relied on breadcrumbs.

Interestingly, what I have come to see is that not many people click the links. I’ve been asking around and other bloggers tell me the same. Even when they provide clear and accessible supporting or developing information via links, a considerable number of people fundamentally disregard them and fail to click.

This is important news to me, another example of just because I click my way through the world, doesn’t mean that others do. It goes to show you can never assume anything and you might have to do a little work if you want other people to try things in a different way. I have been thinking lately about the ‘new media’ as it relates to how we can use blogging as a tool for professional development and community building for the child and family welfare sector and was thinking back to a great post written awhile back by Arianna HuffingtonJournalism 2009: Desperate Metaphors, Desperate Revenue Models, And The Desperate Need For Better Journalism. One of the things she speaks about is ‘old media’ and the uneasy (antagonistic?) relationship it has with new media such as aggregated news, link economy, excerpts and expansions, citizen journalists and the way people have begin to directly interact with the news/media. As Arianna Huffington says in her post;

“News is no longer something we passively take in. We now engage with news, react to news and share news. It’s become something around which we gather, connect and converse. We all are part of the evolution of a story now — expanding it with comments and links to relevant information, adding facts and differing points of view.”

These are exciting times. We are becoming increasingly aware of the way that information and news is constructed and that we can change the way that news is approached or understood by simply clicking a link, Googling (or whatever other search engines float your boat) for more information or a different perspective. We comment, we share, we expand and develop information simply by the way we interact with it. We don’t have to wait for someone to spoon us their version of the news, we can go out and hunt and gather until we have built our own news.

I read Arianna’s very provocative article and sucked in all the information about the role the internet currently plays (and is projected to play) in respect to journalism and print media – and marveled again at how difficult it is for some folks to accommodate change; yes I’m pointing at you ‘old media’ but I could easily be pointing any number of other directions; like education and professional development and training initiatives or perhaps even … my own sector at work!

Curioser and curioser, I have also shared the Shift Happens video, Did You Know 4.0. with a number of people who work in our sector and was a bit gobsmacked by some of the responses. I read the Arianna Huffington article and watched the video and came away with my ‘communication cup’ spilleth-ing over with possibilities; for my personal passions of writing and photography, of community building and connection but also,  professionally – oh yes, I can see possibilities for how we could possibly put these amazing communication advances to work for the child protection sector, particularly at the Peak Body/non government level.

Other people in the sector saw the ‘communication cup’ as having being turned over, with all the good stuff seeping away. But there we go, I feel incredibly positive about the progress of social networking, community building and the variety of social media platforms. I also feel more than a little bemused by all those who wish to halt progress and regress to a time and a place I really don’t believe ever existed.  Who will be the casualties in the wake of the swift and unstoppable force of change?  I dare say, it will be those people who refuse to progress or, as Arianna so beautifully metaphored, those intent on “merging into traffic riding a horse and buggy“.

So it seems a fair few people are not yet turned on to social media, ” new media” or this way of moving through their reading . They may still be used to and comfortable with passive exchanges of ‘news’ and information. Turn on the tv and channel 7 tells you what is happening (or at least what they think is happening or want you to think is happening). Have the paper delivered, or turn on your favorite radio station – same thing. We sit, listen or watch and have information ‘done to us’. Certainly this passive consumption of information can be less work and less challenging. We can listen, watch or read, call ourselves informed and be done with it. It is certainly less time consuming!

If old media approaches to information and news are your preferred choice – that’s cool. There’s plenty of that out there and I think there is a place for it. I ‘do’ the broad news in this way and it works just fine.  However,  this is my chance to send a little cyber-wave to the kindred people who are already merrily clicking along the new media ‘Information Exchange’ and make a heartfelt plug to encourage those readers who are not yet on the road, to boldly go forth into “New Media” land, click links, and interact with your reading!  And, when you’re reading my blog posts, I hope you will consider what I write as a jumping off point, rather than an end point. I sure do. And if you should find different information, or go down another path with the information I am linking, please do share your thoughts, and links – I’d love to click them!

Fiona McColl – Training and Development Manager – PeakCare

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. Matt #

    Hey Fiona,

    I like your post. It was interesting to read about how people use links in blogs. I checked them out and enjoyed reading Arianna’s article. I love how social media more than traditional media, allows a person to be an active agent in the news they recieve. I think this creates a much healthier society where discourse is not controlled by a powerful few.

    March 30, 2011

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