Saturday, July 14, 2007

Blogging vs. New Media

Aside from the fact that we may not have a solid consensus on the meaning and scope of the term New Media, I think it is safe to say that it is an umbrella term that does cover blogging, social networking sites, wikis, podcasting, video, and even photo sharing. My question is whether blogging really does belong under the same New Media umbrella as podcasting and video or whether the textual conversations of blogging are inherently different in nature and gain no particular benefit from being lumped in with podcasting and video which are inherently un-conversational.

To me, blog posts do a much better job of engaging people in the sense of an intellectual dialog (conversation), whereas podcasts and video have more of a feel of presentation media rather than conversational media. Sure people talk about them, but those forms of media themselves do not enable conversation in the kind of way that blogs both invite and enable two-way and multi-way conversation. Sure, you get a lot of interesting and even conversational coments on a YouTube video, but once again they are comments about the video and not a conversation with anybody in the video.

There is an added distance between the consumer of a podcast or video and who is in that media that doesn't exist when we consider blogs.

And even if an actual conversation does not occur immediately with a blog post, the opportunity is not immediately lost and comments and links and email could occur weeks or months or even years later. It is the opportunity for conversation that is the big bang of blogs.

The chasm between blogging and the rest of New Media is also illustrated by the fact that Old Media mavens can and do readily adopt to the non-text new media (e.g., podcasting and video), but struggle mightily when faced with figuring out how to deal with "blogs."

The real truth is that only conversational media such as blogs and multi-person chat and social networking sites (and email) are the Really New Media, and that audio, video, and photos are really simply old wine in new "bottles."

To be clear, it is not text that is new, but the conversation that it enables that is so new and open-ended.

That said, I'm wondering if people are getting bored with blogging and rather than look for ways to further enhance the conversation and conversational features they are falling back to more of a couch potato mentality that is inspired by the old forms of media (radio and television and movies.)

Personally, I'm not attracted to podcasting and videos as an alternative to spending my time reading news (and some blogs) and email and posting on my blogs. What might podcasting and videos offer me that I might value?

-- Jack Krupansky


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