There was a time, not too long ago, when the general population all over the world would begin its day with a cup of tea and the morning newspaper for then the newspaper was there only source of information, there only window to the rest of the world, there only medium for the distribution of knowledge. But that was then. Things are very different now and newspapers have ceased to be the only source of information quite a while ago. In fact, today’s world is a world where information and knowledge is available almost anywhere, anytime. And the medium of the distribution of information have also grown in number. Now we have the satellite television, the internet, the mobile phone etc. And because of these media our world is a truly interconnected one.
This is what the media does for us. But then what does the media mean to us? The more I think about it the more convinced I am that this particular question simply cannot elicit the same or even similar responses from all of us. For, the media is not just a window to the rest of the world for me. However, it probably was just that to my grandfather when he was my age and for a long time after that. But even for him its meaning changed over time as the newspaper was, with time, supplemented by the television and, later still, the satellite television.
I belong to the present generation and the meaning of the word media has changed for me as well. As newer technological developments take place the advancements made in the world of media continually kept altering my interpretation of the word. So, speaking for the present generation, therefore, I can safely say that the media is a sort of a functional extension of our consciousness. And, not only has it become a part of our everyday lives to the extent that we cannot even imagine a world without it, but it has also become a part of our evolution process now and continuously evolves, moulding and shaping itself around our needs. For one thing, everything from a radio to a television to the computers, laptops, palmtops, etc. has, with time, gotten smaller and smaller as well as increasingly user friendly. This has happened because as time went by our needs have not just been influenced by the choices that the world offers us, but have also been shaping to those very choices.
This is a significant revelation about media for it declares clearly that not only has the media changed over time, but also that it will continue to do so continuously. It is quite probable then, that just as I sit here pin-pointing the distinctions between my versions of media with that of my grandfather, perhaps, someday, my children will also be able to contrast their interpretation of media with mine. But what will their media be like? How much will our media change in order to become their media? Or what will be the media?
The answers to these questions are not within my reach, intellectually or otherwise. However, I can make some amount of assumptions based on the path the media has traversed so far in terms of trends etc. and the scientific and technological advancements that have been made up to the present day world. Let us take the case of changing trends in the way media functions in the world of media itself- ‘social media to be more specific. Here, a great change can be seen to be taking place in the current times, made possible by “Social Media Monitoring & Measurement”.
Social Media Monitoring is a process whereby a certain amount of monitoring or ‘listening’ done by the company can lead to great insights revealed by monitoring or tracking key words, as they appear, with the intent of a quick response or a course correction. The purpose is simply to learn, engage, help or collaborate by listening to the target groups which could comprise of consumers, prospects, industry thought leaders, former customers, business partners etc. Thereby media that was till now an entity that provides information, has now become one that converses and listens as well. And the end result is a shift in the media perception and consumption.
Some other technological developments of the day even have the potential of leading to a paradigm shift in the way media is looked at today. One of the technological innovations of the day, for instance, is the “Sixth Sense Technology” by MIT’s Pranav Mistry, which, to the say the least, is destined to alter our perception of the world as we ‘sense’ it as it becomes a part of our everyday reality in the not so distant future. The Sixth Sense is a wearable gestural interface that adds to the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use our natural hand gestures to interact with that information. In essence, this gadget formed by a combination of a small projector, a mirror and a camera has made a quantum jump from present day trends of miniaturisation of devices and come up with a new to the world concept as it alters the way we ‘sense’ the various media. Imagine the prospects of such a technology!
Promising as these trends and technology sound, they have the power to alter the position held by the media in our everyday life. And if such paradigm shifts are predictably possible in our own times then we can only imagine how dramatically unbelievable the media of the future can be. One thing that I can be sure of though is that my children will perceive and consume media differently.