The meaning of this may sound cliche. For the part that most modern day smartphones do not sport an FM Radio (although, rumours remain that the radio is a necessity among phones in emerging markets), while older phones did. But moving away from the literary meaning, we explore here how the use of the phone has changed in the era of digital media.
As Clay Shirky puts it, the social media landscape has changed the way we use broadcast media, especially at the turn of the 21st Century. The rise of Web 2.0 has put power in the hands of the people. The power to publish and propagate and idea using multiple media formats such as print, imagery, voice & audio and video has become commonplace and a global phenomenon.
Until the 20th Century, media was either good at either of two functions – to create conversations or create groups. If we consider the newspaper as our first example, the publisher would be adept in expressing to a large group of people at once, but the conversation was a one-to-many conversation, and latency of the conversation lasted only as long as the reader had access to the information. On the other hand, the telephone however created the one-to-one conversation between the audience and listener and vice-versa, but it failed as a medium for creating groups.
With the internet, many-to-many pattern in conversations have become important. This means, that while the information being produced is distributed among a large set of people, they are actually able to participate in that information dissemination and engage with one another to create larger eco-systems in the conversation.
The more intriguing aspect to consider however is that with Web 2.0, the media audience that was primarily the consumer of shared information earlier, has also become a producer of information. And this is a much larger phenomenon than just the phone turning into a radio. This is because with the same equipment, i.e. computers, cellphones and laptops, people are producing content for the internet that they are sharing with others. This is very powerful, because it has led to absolute democratization of media.
While content was earlier published by professionals in the media industry, Web 2.0 has led to mass amateurization of media. And there are multiple examples around this. Blogs for example, were the first way that people started sharing information on news and current affairs, in an amateur format. But the story really did not stop there. It took to YouTube, and the number of amateur videos that have been shared across the internet on various topics has become phenomenal.
So much that yesteryear’s professional media has moved itself to the internet with the iTunes store becoming the largest music reseller in the world, online book stores such as Amazon and the iTunes Book Store thriving in liquid formats with millions of readers across the globe choosing electronic formats over conventional print media to read their choice of books, magazines and journals.
Leading newspapers such as New York Times have invested aggressively into developing their applications for new generation media that aggregates systems into applications on iPads and similar portable devices. And this movement just doesn’t stop here.
Why we’re using the term that it’s like the phone turned into a radio, is because what used to be once an instrument to communicate one-to-one, is today allowing us to tap into (pun-intended) seemingly limitless information and make a precise selection of choices among that information. The buck doesn’t stop here. More people everyday are increasingly sharing this information among family, friends and groups, and ever more so collaborating to improve the quality of content that is being shared.
No wonder, its called a revolution. The change has only just begun.