Media! The mention of the word itself brings to mind a whole array of technologies, gizmos and gadgets. It also brings to mind a rather interesting mix of cultures and movements. For it was the media after all that added a whole new level to the spread of revolutionary and political ideologies. But with time media did much more than just aid processes. And as media grew not just in stature but also in dimensions it became not just an instrument of society one of the pillars on which the present social structure stands.
Conventionally ‘media’ could be a mere medium to anything, or a place in central Asia and many more such things. But to a lay man ‘media’ denotes the technology that is more correctly known as ‘mass media’. The Wikipedia quick search of the word ‘media’ reinforces the lay mans’ use of the word however. And it reveals an almost endless list of ‘media types’ or the ever growing dimensions to media that we mentioned earlier. Constraints of time and space do not allow an elaborate study of all of these; however, we shall be discussing some of the most prominent and some of the fast emerging wings of media.
1. Print Media- Perhaps the earliest form of media to make a widespread hold on contemporary society, print media began to make its importance felt as early as the 16th century A.D when print became instrumental in changing the nature of reading within society. Also, with the invention of the printing press the spread of knowledge and information became much faster and less cumbersome. The fastest growing form of print media was the newspaper which still remains an important instrument of mass media despite television and internet being considered the major instruments of media.
2. Advertising Media- With the widespread popularity of print as a medium of communication advertising gained a whole new dimension of possibilities to explore. So the constraints of time and space became lesser. Also advertisers discovered new means of creating awareness in the minds of their target customers. What started with print grew with the advent of the broadcast media. This growth was further propelled by satellite television and the internet boom of the 1990s.
3. Broadcast Media- The Wikipedia describes ‘broadcast’ as “the distribution of audio and/or video signals which transmit programs to an audience”. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of the whole, such as children or young adults. It includes telephone broadcasting, television broadcasting, radio broadcasting, cable radio, satellite television, webcasting etc. Broadcast media has, for quite some time been the most popular dimension of mass media. It is exceedingly popular in the realm of entertainment media. Symbolically, however, ‘broadcasting’ also refers to the ‘sowing of seeds’ and in that sense it also signifies the spread of ideas and in that sense reveals another layer at which mass media affects present day societies.
4. Digital Media- “Formats for presenting information” according to Wicktionary:media. It includes digital audio, digital video, and other digital content. Digital media, unlike analog media, are generally electronic media that work on a system of digital codes. Digital media can be created, referred to and distributed via digital information processing machines. In essence, digital media marks a shift from the older analog media. It is all the more significant as this is the path media instruments will take now onwards. Popular digital media include cellular phones, compact discs, televisions, digital video, e-books, internet, minidiscs, videogames, e-commerce, game consoles, computers and many interactive media. This is the most rapidly growing and, so far, the most promising wing of media.
5. Social Media- Social media is another face of contemporary media that is gaining popularity rather rapidly. Basically this is the use of media for ‘social interaction’. So its scope could range from messaging someone to making video calls to the other side of the world. Social media. Social media use web-based technologies to transform and broadcast media monologues into social media dialogues. Earlier it was considered to be a tool usable only by the youth or the working class professionals. However, slowly and steadily social media has become popular among the general public and barriers of age, nationality and orientation no longer apply.
The above mentioned media are only a few select forms of present day mass media. However their relevance lies in the fact that they are indicative of the scope and growth prospects of this gigantic entity called media that has already acquired gargantuan proportions. Only time will tell what other surprises media oriented technological advancements intend to bring our way. The only definite fact is that media holds the key to our future!