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The 21st Century Media (R)evolution

Emergent Communication Practices, Second Edition

Jim Macnamara

The emergence of what are called ‘new media’ and ‘social media’ is one of the most discussed topics in contemporary societies. Because media and public communication are mostly analyzed within particular theoretical frameworks and within specific disciplinary fields, polarized views have been created with cyberoptimists and celebrants on one side and cyberpessimists and skeptics on the other. Thus we lack an understanding of the interdependencies and convergence between disciplines and practices.
The second edition of this book expertly synthesizes competing theories and disciplinary viewpoints and examines the latest data, including international research from fast-growing markets such as China, to provide a comprehensive, holistic view of the twenty-first century media (r)evolution. Dr. Macnamara argues that the key changes are located in practices rather than technologies and that public communication practices are emergent in highly significant ways.
Engaging and accessible, this book is essential reading for scholars and professionals in media and communication and an invaluable text for courses in media studies, journalism, advertising, public relations and organisational and political communication.
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Chapter 4. Myths and Cyberbole,Trends and Tipping Points 1


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In addition to major theories and concepts that are supported by scholarly research, as discussed in Chapter 2, discussion of emergent media encompasses a number of claims and viewpoints that detailed analysis reveals to be myths or exaggerations—what Steve Woolgar (2002) calls cyberbole. These need to be addressed as they frame thinking and discussion, and, without challenge, they will go on distorting and diverting debate into unproductive areas. At the same time, there are emergent trends and developments that comprise what Charles Fombrun (1992) calls ‘turning points’ and, more recently, Malcolm Gladwell (2002) called “tipping points” that are pivotal in future directions. While a challenging task, the two need to be separated—that is, myths ‘busted’ and trends and turning points identified—to reach a vantage point where emergent media and their implications can be observed.

The End of Endism

One issue that rears its head frequently in discussions of change is what computer scientist John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid call ‘endism,’ referring to all too frequent predictions that new developments will result in the end of other methods and approaches (Brown & Duguid, 2000). Examples include George Gilder’s confident prediction that the internet would mean the end of television (1994, ← 129 | 130 → p. 49). In the same year, Roland Rust and Richard Oliver declared the death of mass media advertising in an article in the Journal of...

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