It’s getting harder to be a policy wonk in the cultural, entertainment and creative industries these days, and the difficulty is about words and definitions. I guess I’m not alone. Mathew Ingram poses a question: What exactly do we mean by TV?
Ingram and his copy editor had to have a conversation about words. Writers and editors in the newspaper biz have been establishing the common currency of language for a long time in our culture, so I took note of their conversation.
â€œWhatâ€™s Internet television?â€? she said. â€œIs it on TV?â€? Well, no. â€œThen what makes it television?â€? Good question, I said. Thatâ€™s kind of the point, in fact. So we agreed to call it Internet video â€” but I think itâ€™s more than that. Itâ€™s short-form, episodic, character and plot driven narrative. How is that not television? But itâ€™s not on TV.
I share Ingram’s frustration, Now try defining New Media usefully for research and analysis purposes, a continual source of hair-pulling frustration in the cultural policy world and in work sitting on my desk right now. Are we really in a bifurcated reality between people who “get it” and those that don’t? Without a common language, how are we supposed to have the conversations we need to have during a period of rapid change in media, industry, culture and society?
Is internet video a form of “new media”, or is it “television”? What is new media? Is something delivered on the internet automatically “new media” and something on a closed proprietary network automatically “old media”? Is new media always interactive, while television is a passive linear experience? And what about user-generated media? Is it new just because I put it on YouTube instead of passing it around a videotape?
I’m seeking a useful and generally accepted taxonomy of media and their related industries that is relevant today. To start, which perspective is the most relevant: that of a user, the industry or the general public? Are these separate but equally useful analytical lenses?