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Digital media in a social world

Posted by admin on April 6, 2012 – 11:16 am

Digital media in a social world
                                                             by JV Valdez

The term “digital media” is an expansive term that is so ubiquitous it loses its concrete grip on definition most of the time. Usually it is lumped together with media 2.0 and social media or change places with the utilitarian multi-media and even digital art. Still, the word “media” is even all-encompassing that furthers the confusion of what digital media is fundamentally about. The universality of this phrase is a testament that we have embraced digital media itself, and harnessing its powers to assist our needs, from entertainment to marketing is paramount.

While the term media in this aspect means a collective word for the storage and transmission of graphics, images, audio and video, it also refers to textual data and applications. Still, digital media is not completely referred to as electronic media since on the flipside is analog media. In the evolutionary aspect of electronic media, the analog types came first. Endless tapes of data stored mostly texts that were succeeded by computers which handled various media types in order of complexity and file size, from ASCII text to video.

This is where digital media come in, and the Digital Media Alliance of Florida defines it clearly as “the creative convergence of digital arts, science, technology and business for human expression, communication, social interaction and education.” The operative word here is “convergence” where various media forms are fused together in presentation for a seamless and more enjoyable consumption of media. Perhaps digital media would be at home with web 2.0 technologies such as Facebook and Twitter where people share, like and comment on status updates, photos and videos. Let us not push to the sides the significance of emails, instant messaging and online voice call services such as Skype and Yahoo Messenger that help us enjoy digital media for social interaction and communication.

Then there is YouTube, the gargantuan repository of videos that stores videos that amuse, irritate, teach and entertain. Going back several years, we had the (in)famous Napster pioneered mp3 sharing. This avenue was followed by the hugely successful universe of songs, videos and applications on iTunes for use of the indispensable iPhone and other Apple gadgets. The triumph of the iPhone is now being replicated by Android and Blackberry mobile devices.

No question should be raised about the importance of digital media in our mundane lives. We have grown so tethered to it that it would be unspeakable when a worst-case scenario of solar flares or other phenomena suddenly interfere with the electronic signals that envelop the globe. Such power of digital media has astounding effects on our personal, social, business and even political lives. The overthrow of supposed autocratic regimes worldwide has been effected considerably by the use of 2.0 technologies where people share news through pictures and videos. Our experience with digital media has made us more cohesive despite possessing varying backgrounds and beliefs. We have become more passionate, more individualist in a pluralistic world, and these traits lead to more innovation and invention.

To harness the power of digital media is to understand the purpose of each type. When constructing a website, composing a blog post, or simply sharing a post on Facebook, we need to think about our message first and what we want our audience to understand. A good arrangement of text, graphics, pictures, audio and video is important in order to successfully convey our message. This step needs to be observed when trying to impart your beliefs or selling a product. The bottomline here is marketing–how we market our ideas and products through the use of digital media.

The free flow of information on the Internet has led to an infinite process of sharing, copying and distributing digital media content, particularly audio and video that has continuously gotten the ire of media companies. This democratic access to information, while empowering the general masses, has also led to widespread piracy. Once in a while, software and media companies subscribe to techniques to ward off piracy by releasing copy-protected media. History has told us many of these steps just become futile.

In an era of simultaneous communication and interaction we must learn to exploit responsibly the power of digital media for the improvement of our social lives. In the years to come, digital media will surely evolve into a more seamless and intuitive multi-media experience, some of them will be virtual or augmented reality. They will be handled by blistering connection speeds and stored in humongous storage drives.

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