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New Media… the latest fad? or today’s reality?

What’s all the fuss?

I am a dreadfully late adopter and ridiculously inactive user of every form of online societies or communities. And therefore, I often wonder what’s the whole fuss about online social networking. What is it that appeals to millions of people across the globe, across age groups and across professions? Some of the answers are pretty obvious, the ones that are directly derived from the benefits of the Internet… communication… especially beyond physical distance… with more than one person… with strangers… with the world at large. Internet appeals to the basic human nature of curiosity and the basic human needs to explore and communicate. It adds the element of utter convenience to execute our communication needs like no other single technology or medium has managed previously.

The alternative media…

Having said that, there is something else that we need to observe and appreciate. There is something extraordinary achieved by internet… its rise as an alternative form of media which is inexpensive, convenient, fast, wide and most importantly available to anyone and everyone. A few extremely smart trend-spotters and early adopters of technology realized this strength and created a whole new world for us, which has absolutely revolutionized the way all of us go about our daily lives. We live the kind of life that generations of the yesteryears imagined in their future science fictions.

Internet is responsible for one of the most potent form of media ever imagined or created by man, a form of media that gives control of creating and disseminating information to a common man. With booming mobile industry, now the power of internet has literally moved into the hands of anyone and everyone. At least access to this power has been facilitated; now it’s up to us how to utilize it.

Platform to common man…

The most distinguishing feature of the new media is the emergence of a platform for everyone, anyone to showcase his/her talent and self. There are various terms or concepts for similar stuff, user-generated content, social networking, social media etc. There are many brands around it, youtube, orkut, facebook, twitter etc. At the end of the day, all of them serve the same purpose… they allow common people, like you and me, to share their views with the world, to share their talent with the world, to gain their little moments of fame amongst the digital world or the larger universe depending on the scandalous quality of the content.

New media has created a new third breed between the amateurs and the professionals with thin lines of difference and easy access gates to cross-over. These are the people who have passion for various forms of art or skills. However, they might or might not be pursuing it professionally; they might or might not harbor the dream to pursue it professionally. New media allows them the opportunity to test the market for their skills. Serious amateurs in the yesteryears had little opportunity to make the transition to the professional world, little opportunity to show relevant work experience in the field. In the good old days of non digital world, one would have to leave the acceptable full-time regular paying job and fight with the whole world including the family to go and struggle to make it big in the world of unconventional jobs like photography or writing or comic art or film making etc. Today, all I have to do is make a comic strip, upload on my personal blog and bamm the world is looking at my work. The world can comment on my piece of art, share with friends, spread the word. If I manage to get big enough fan following, I can approach the likes of TOI or HT and I can turn into a professional cartoonist.

Bringing people closer… insanely closer…

However, the penetration of new media in our lives is getting more interesting or scandalous with the sudden shrinking of the distance between relatives, acquaintances and peers. My father is on my friend list in facebook, and has a tap on every step of my life. My kid is also on orkut and I know what s/he is doing. Twitter updates me of every move of my boss. The job seekers have all information about the company and the to-be-boss before joining. The recruiters get all the dope on the candidate through the multiple social networking platforms.

Here to stay!!

Social media creates its own sets of local celebrities. Social media exposes everyone to everyone they know. Some people live in the fear, some people enjoy the fame. New media has changed the way we live and we communicate. It’s the new order of the world and its here to stay. No fad this is.

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