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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 12. Conclusions


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In Communication and New Media: From Broadcast to Narrowcast, Martin Hirst and John Harrison conclude that “the digital future can be either utopian or dystopian” (2007, p. 364). This text has critiqued such binary thinking and a failure by some scholars to commit to dialectic analysis that moves beyond various theses and antitheses to a synthesis or a “whole” picture which integrates various scenarios (Spencer & Krauze, 1996). The future will be neither utopian nor entirely dystopian. In all probability, it will be a combination of both positive and negative effects, a mix of dystopian and utopian influences and practices. Benefits flowing to some sectors will pose problems for others. For instance, as discussed in Chapter 8, opportunities for targeted marketing enabled by expanding online databases containing information about people have serious implications for privacy. A corollary of being connected ‘anywhere anytime’ is a surveillance society. Hirst and Harrison correctly warn “be careful what you wish for” (2007, p. 363).

Paul DiMaggio and his colleagues provided one of the first detailed assessments of internet impacts, particularly in relation to the Web, in 2001. Figure 12.1 updates and expands the positive and negative impacts discussed by DiMaggio et al. (2001) with those identified in this analysis. ← 409 | 410 →

Figure 12.1. Impacts and effects of the internet and emergent media, based on DiMaggio et al. (2001) and this analysis.

An interesting finding illustrated in this figure is...

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