Friday, 4 January 2008

Media Studies 2.0 - my thoughts ...

(For a number of years I've been thinking about the problems of teaching media studies and of the nature of media studies itself in a changing media world. I started this blog in part as a place to think through some of these issues, titling it MS2.0 to prompt thoughts about the need to upgrade the discipline. It's taken me this long to put together a statement of my thoughts on this. This is only a rough draft, standing somewhere between a blog-entry opinion piece and an academic article. In the spirit of my own argument I've decided to publish this for anyone to read and open it up for comments and debate. )


Responding to his critics in his 1968 Playboy interview, McLuhan acerbically commented, ‘for all their lamentations, the revolution has already taken place’. Whether his critics ever later grasped that is a moot point but everyone in media studies today faces an equivalent challenge: something is happening and the only important question is do you know what it is?

I began to notice it when I thought about my son’s media world compared to my own at his age. The only difference between the world I grew up in and my parents was that I had two more TV channels and my better-off friends had colour TV. Within the decade the same friends would have a VCR too, though we had to wait till the late 1980s until prices fell for it to be anything other than a luxury. This was a world of separate and more limited forms: the telephone (that you didn’t own) was screwed to the wall and couldn’t take photographs; you couldn’t get the radio on your television; films didn’t have special features, games or Easter eggs and no-one tried to hack into your television to steal your money or identity. Between my childhood media world and my son’s there is a chasm.

My son’s world is also my student’s world. I realised this a few years ago when a student came to see me about their essay and handed me a USB memory stick – the first I’d ever seen. I didn’t know what to do with it so I held it up to the light and joked about the weak introduction and poor referencing. It brought home the absurdity of being a media studies lecturer when your students know more about media than you do. We know the discipline and the texts, ideas and arguments but our students surpass us in their knowledge, use and navigation of the contemporary media world: they are at home in it; we’re always playing catch-up. We can always rest on our knowledge and publications but their value is questionable if they no longer relate to our student’s world.

It used to be easier; it used to be a shared world. Very little happened in film, TV, radio or print that we didn’t know about or couldn’t comprehend. Now most lecturers rely on their students or their newspaper to keep them informed of the latest developments. Ironically we’ve spent so long bemoaning the cultural and historical ignorance of our students – they haven’t seen Godard or Cathy Come Home, they don’t know about the structure of the BBC and they’re not that interested in reading books or daily newspapers – but our ignorance of their world is just as important. Now there’s a whole world of P2P music, film and TV; video-clips; home-made mobile porn; customised avatars; graffiti, funwalls and superwalls; tagging, texting, messaging, sheep-throwing, bitch-slapping and virtual penguins that we’re struggling to keep up with.

At the heart of the changes lie new media and their contemporary impact. Cheaper and more powerful computer processing, its insertion into and control of a range of technologies; the popular dissemination of these electronic forms; the subsequent movement of media content into digital form; the conversion of older media into digital technologies; the emergence of entirely new media forms and possibilities and the interconnectivity and intercommunication of devices mark a process that, over the last two decades, has left few media unaffected. Today almost every ‘old’ broadcast-era media has been transformed by new technology in its production, dissemination, reception or use. Digital technologies have led to a wide-ranging transformation of all existing technological, institutional, political and economic media structures.

Add to this the contemporary pace of change. Broadcast-era media evolved separately and slowly, with technological improvements having either a limited or a gradual impact upon the consumer. Today developments in computer processing power and its falling costs push a different environment and experience. Rapid commercial, technological invention and innovation, combined with the interconnected nature of contemporary technologies, means that new developments impact upon a range of media forms, constantly remaking their relationships. Inter-linked new media forms competing for space, attention and market share and regularly releasing new upgrades with new applications and capacities impact upon everyday life and media use, constituting, in the critical mass of their popular success, an ongoing revolution that continually remakes the entire media ecology. Today changes are visible on a daily basis. We can now follow entire forms and industries shift and transform as they struggle to remain relevant or compete to succeed in this new world.

But this isn’t simply a technology-driven transformation. It’s also driven by ourselves, as new generations embrace these technologies and discover and create new uses for them. What is fundamental is the way in which these users are reconfiguring their own social relations and expectations and producing entirely new modes of experience and knowledge. This is where the gap lies. This is the world we no longer share with our students.

I first tried to think about these issues in November 2006. I’d decided to start a blog, posting links to new media stories and news as a resource for students and for my own lectures and I used my first post to reflect upon the changes I was following and the changes in our student’s media. Following the terminology of software upgrades, I called the blog ‘Media Studies 2.0’ and argued that media studies needed similarly upgrading (1). Ongoing changes in new media technology and the remarkable irruption of entire new worlds of media experiences needed to be placed at the core of the discipline, I felt, and backward looking research, perspectives and debates needed to be left behind.

For these claims to have any academic credibility I needed to do more than articulate my own vague feelings. What was required was: a defensible analysis of what media studies ‘1.0’ was; a description of the changes that are forcing a rethink of traditional media studies; a clear statement of what media studies 2.0 isn’t; and a statement of what a media studies 2.0 should do and of the new tasks it faces.


Defining media studies 1.0 is exceptionally difficult. There is no written history of media studies and the interpretations and experiences of its members vary considerably. Although we can trace the broad movements, perspectives and authors who have been popular at any time this doesn’t necessarily tell us about media studies. What media studies is and its history has as much to do with its origins, its development in specific academic institutions and about the people who taught there and their idea about what they were doing. It involves considering what they thought was media, how they analysed it, what texts were considered canonical, where they drew the limits of the subject and how they positioned themselves in relation to other disciplines and departments: in short, how they created the discipline. It involves the struggle to establish the study of media, the different origins of each part of media studies (film studies, television studies, print studies), the route media studies took through the country, through its different institutions and different constituencies and the inter-personal politics of those individuals who created and guided the field. It involves questions of the economic and political history of Higher Education and questions of the relationship between theory and practice as well as – within theory – of the relationship between empirical and culturalist modes of doing media studies.

Understanding media studies also involves the history and experience of each of us who has entered the field within the last decade, during the contemporary expansion of the discipline. We are here because of the proliferation of courses, the take-up of the subject in many old universities and the growing numbers of students passing through the field. Each of us has a very different background. Many of us haven’t studied media studies; many of us come from other subjects such as sociology, cultural studies, English and the languages; many are unaware of the prior history of the subject and its ideas and personalities, and each of us has a very different personal and institutional experience of media studies. Given that we are all pursuing our own highly-specialised research interests and reading in an essentially interdisciplinary subject whose scope is accordingly huge it is difficult for any one individual to know with any clarity what media studies is and what it means to its members today.

So how can we justifiably identify a MS1.0? Some attempt to sketch the field is necessary here but using too broad a brush for this risks oversimplifying the variety of research being conducted and merely creates a straw-man whose demolition impresses no-one. The simplest way to negotiate these problems is to approach the subject historically.

Media studies is an academic discipline that first emerged in the early-mid 20th century, at the same time as the rise of what Dan Gillmor calls ‘big media’. One can obviously find a considerable and important historical literature discussing media prior to this time – especially speech, images and written and printed forms – but this played little or no role in the formation of the discipline and has rarely been included in its mainstream student texts and textbooks since. These are clear: media studies traces its lineage back through the early 20th C sociology of Cooley, Dewey’s philosophy of communication, Lasswell’s post-World War One propaganda analysis, Lippmann’s discussion of public opinion, the work of Park and the Chicago School, Lazarsfeld and the empirical, behaviourist school of communication research of the 1930s-40s and the emerging information and communication theory of the war years emerging from the work of Weiner, Shannon and others. Media studies was an academic product of the broadcasting era. It developed out of a concern with mass society and issues of mass communication, mass persuasion and the formation and control of public opinion. It emerged in an era in which newspapers became major commercial enterprises, central to political and public culture; in which cinema was consolidating its position as a major commercial entertainment mass-producing its products for public distribution; in which radio broadcasting swept America and Europe and in which early experiments with television were beginning to yield results that would produce the dominant broadcasting medium of the second-half of the century.

Media studies 1.0 was a historical product: a historical response to one historical model of media. Its ‘broadcast model’ was later extended back to include earlier print media, with the era of mass media and mass communication coming to be defined as the Post-Gutenbergian era. This definition helped set the limits and concerns of the discipline: it would explore Post-Gutenbergian mass communication, focusing upon a small number of key forms, in particular the printed book, newspapers, cinema, radio and television – employing 20th century ideas, approaches and methods.

Whilst media studies has undoubtedly developed over the last century this broadcast focus has remained dominant. The diversity of individual research projects might suggest that there is no commonly-agreed conception of what media studies is and no identifiable mainstream discipline, but in practice these do exist, being found in the key texts we produce to introduce the subject to new students: our undergraduate textbooks. Looking through these one is struck by their similarity. They employ a remarkably-similar classificatory scheme, with a fairly-standardised list of topics (audiences, institutions, representation, effects, semiology, advertising etc.), an emphasis upon the main broadcast forms (TV, cinema, print, radio) and a near identical selection of ideas, perspectives, debates and content. Although their actual use may be limited to introductory modules their significance lies in the fact that they represent the public face and point of self-definition of the discipline, identifying the agreed, core knowledge new students must learn. Alternative ideas, debates, perspectives and content are found in the discipline, but their exclusion from this core implicitly marginalises their concerns, creating an identifiable mainstream of the discipline focused upon mass communication research.

Whereas in the broadcast-era this disciplinary classification appeared natural and inevitable, representing a logical break-down of the media’s organisation and operation, the passage to a new era highlights how it was imbued with the ideas and values of its age: an age of highly-capitalised big media corporations employing technology to transmit information to a mass of receivers. Communication theory and models of communication developed to explain and enshrine this process and although media studies developed a critique of and more sophisticated clarification of these models it never overcome them. The different emphases it has chosen at different times – production, political economy, institutions, ideology, technology, reception, content – are all fragmented responses to the broadcast-era model of communication.

More recently there has been some attempt to update these textbooks with the inclusion of new media. Discussions of new media, however, typically feel tacked-on; they are often analysed and understood through broadcast-era concepts and categories and their use as illustrative examples for students usually lacks any consideration of their challenge to the broadcast-era system of media and mass communication research. The placing of new media as a final chapter in textbooks is also common, ignoring their transformation of the entire preceding content of the book. Where media studies has taken up new media, therefore, it has been through the lens of the broadcast-era and as a specialist subject within the discipline: as optional knowledge for lecturers and students, taught in specialised modules, usually in the final year after students have been taught the core of the discipline. There remains the feeling that new media are too complex for our students and something they should only approach after years of training in the discipline.

The problem is our core knowledge is no longer the core of the student’s media world. They live new media and apply for our courses because of that use and that interest. They may think they are applying to study media but they are actually applying to study media studies. In the broadcast-era that distinction didn’t matter but today, when the latter no longer reflects the former, it is fundamental. Our students arrive to discover a discipline that is ill-equipped or unwilling to deal with the world they live in. Our introductory modules and textbooks bear so little relationship to our student’s media experiences that the discipline itself appears lifeless and anachronistic at its point of entry and self-definition: at precisely that point when it should be engaging with these new minds. Broadcast-era media studies doesn’t work in a post-broadcast era.


Putting it simply, the broadcast-era media studies was born in has changed. New media are transforming our social, political, economic and cultural worlds and media studies has to transform itself to understand this environment. New media aren’t going to be un-invented or diverted and their continuing impact upon contemporary processes is certain.

As Gillmor, Anderson, Benkler et al point out, new media challenge big media’s broadcast model. In place of a top-down, one-to-many vertical cascade from centralised industry sources we discover today bottom-up, many-to-many, horizontal, peer-to-peer communication. ‘Pull’ media challenge ‘push’ media; open structures challenge hierarchical structures; micro-production challenges macro-production; open-access amateur production challenges closed access, elite-professions; economic and technological barriers to media production are transformed by cheap, democratised, easy-to-use technologies; the single expert voice is threatened by the ‘long tail’ of expertise; the ‘lecture’ is replaced by the ‘conversation’; the individual as consumer is complemented by the individual as producer and user and broadcasting to a mass-market is challenged by niche and nano-publishing. The contrast may be too heavily drawn and big media remain present and powerful but the rise of me-casting, my-casting and me-dia represents a significant and very real transformation of the broadcasting era.

No-one is arguing that broadcasting has disappeared or has ended. The television, print, radio and cinema industries remain powerful and important but they have each been transformed by digital technology in aspects of their production, distribution and consumption and they have each had to adapt their business model to the new media era, finding new ways to monetise their product and reach audiences. These changes are so significant and cannot be understood apart from the broader changes in new media production, distribution and consumption such that we can say that the broadcast model no longer adequately explains how contemporary ‘broadcast’ media work. We have entered a post-broadcasting era, defined by new alignments of productive power, technological mastery and media consumption. What makes today’s changes especially important is their interconnected nature: the real communications revolution today is the communication between devices and technologies. In the context of the broader changes in new media this adds up to a fundamental change in the key forms of broadcast media themselves.

Today, even the idea of fixed, separate media forms becomes problematic. Whereas, after a brief period of technical experimentation the broadcast era refined a set of broadly-standardised, fixed, commercial forms – cinema, radio, television – the contemporary era shows no such sign of stabilisation. It is marked instead by a permanent process of invention and innovation in which media forms are constantly reconfigured, obsolesced and revolutionised. This is the era of the permanent ‘beta’ in which, not just software, but all digital forms are tested in the real and continually improved and upgraded. In a visible evolutionary fast-forward we can watch forms, devices and processes develop. In contrast to the broadcast era’s dominance by a small number of separate commercial forms whose slow evolution did not challenge their essential form and rarely changed the user-experience (exceptions such as colour TV, FM radio and commercial video-recording are memorable because they were rare), the post-broadcast era is marked by a new, almost-unchartable, fluid, hybrid ecology. In this fragmented era our very identification of forms collapses as they are remade and cross-breed as vehicles of digital content.

Whereas the terms ‘print’, ‘cinema’, ‘video’, ‘photography’, ‘radio’, ‘telephone’ and ‘television’ once referred to separate physical, technological forms carrying specific content, in the digital era these terms are historical hangovers used for convenience-sake to refer to types of content accessed across a range of digital devices. What was a form in the broadcast-era is now the content of a digital device – being transformed into digital code interpreted by computer processors. As a result the form-barrier that characterised the broadcast era (that made it difficult for one form to be translated into and carried by another) has collapsed. For me, as a child, television was a physical box in the corner of the room. Today it is a type of content, existing in digital form and carried by a range of digital devices. The best example of this change is the development of the generic ‘media player’: we have no better name for a device that simply plays all digital content, potentially combining all media and erasing what were once fundamental differences.

When we consider how media studies lecturers have built their knowledge, research and careers around the specialisation upon specific forms (film studies, television studies, newspaper studies etc.) these changes have implications for the discipline. Today’s fluid forms and cross-platform content require the radical rethinking of specialist expertise.

Changes in content are also important. A Professor recently complained to me that the TV clips he’d shown in his lecture had been met with blank silence: his students hadn’t even seen recent and current shows. ‘What are they watching? What do they spend their time doing?’ he asked. Our students do still watch television (downloading shows, buying or renting DVD-box-sets, personalising their viewing with on-demand services and just occasionally turning it on) but the common culture that dominated the broadcast-era has changed. It’s more difficult today to find films, TV programmes or other content to teach that all the students have heard of. In an era in which our students have no necessary knowledge of contemporary media we’re going to look back nostalgically upon the days when we only complained about their knowledge of the past.

This isn’t simply about audience fragmentation: it’s about a fundamental shift in production and consumption. In the broadcast era the overwhelming majority of content was produced by media companies. Today, they still produce massive quantities of output but if we consider the origins of the media our students actually consume then me-casting or peer-casting probably exceeds broadcast consumption: our students spend more time in a day with their own personal or peer-created messages than they do watching broadcast products. These messages involve a completely different kind of content: one that is personal, self or peer-generated and self or peer-centred, including the use of messaging services, texts, videos, media-sharing, social networking and virtual relationships and worlds. Much of this content isn’t held in common or open to view, a fact having significant implications for our teaching, analysis and research. Thus the content that characterised the broadcast-era is being supplemented – arguably even supplanted – by a different type of content, with different processes of production and distribution.

To a large extent these changes are caused by a shift in the concept of the social in the post-broadcast era. In the broadcast-era ‘the social’ represented the abstract social body – the public, the population, the citizenry, the masses – with the media’s role being to incarnate the social bond and bring social and political developments to the individual. In contrast the ‘social’ in social networking derives from ‘social life’. The top-down provision of information is replaced by peer-produced relationships with news of the world being replaced by news of the self. Negroponte suggested in 1995 a future electronic newspaper – ‘call it The Daily Me’ – delivering personalised content to each if us. His broadcast vision was too limited: today our students are self-journalists, investigating their own lives, collecting information about their own behaviour, opinions and activities, constructing their own news-feed and delivering their personal content to their subscribed public.

This highlights a fundamental change in reception. In the broadcast-era the individual’s role was as receiver and consumer of the products of large-scale companies. Although media studies later fleshed out their ‘activity’ – their reuse of material and oppositional practices – replacing the earlier conception of the passive masses with a more sophisticated view of audience behaviours, this behaviour never challenged the broadcast model or the audience’s position within it. For many, new media seemed to offer a realisation of the ‘active audience’, extending those practices they had identified with new possibilities of interactivity, but this interpretation is backward-looking, still trying to understand the post-broadcast world through broadcast-era categories.

Whilst we still spend time as audiences (whether of mass or peer-produced media) the term itself is too limited to describe the contemporary media experience, constituting only a small part of our media use. Adding the term ‘active’ to this ‘audience’ doesn’t help, merely qualifying a role that no longer exists in many contexts. When we hear the complaint that our students no longer watch anything we should take the hint. In their self-generated experiences – their use of mobile phones, instant messaging, social networking, video-games, Hotel Habbo, Club Penguin, Second Life, World of Warcraft, chat rooms and forums and their Wiki-edits, reviews, comments, tagging, posting, sharing and production – they aren’t watching, they’re doing. Whatever else this is, it isn’t simply ‘reception’.

Our students have moved away from ‘the social’ we grew up with – the social as a top-down phenomenon and nationally shared bond. Instead they’re making their social. Networking sites are one of the most culturally visible examples but virtual worlds have the potential to be a defining force in the future. As Castronova says in Exodus to the Virtual World (2007):

“I see a hurricane coming. It’s called practical virtual reality. Practical virtual reality emerged unannounced from the dark imagineering labs of the video games industry, got powered by high-speed internet connections, and exploded across the globe, catching us all by surprise. Already practical virtual reality immerses 20 or 30 million people in worlds of perpetual fantasy. Over the next generation of two , hundreds of millions more will join them. The exodus of these people from the real world, from our normal daily life of living rooms, cubicles and shopping malls, will create a change in social climate that makes global warming look like a tempest in a tea-cup.”

Whatever media world we’ll see emerge in the following decades it will only have less, not more, in common with the broadcast model and mass communication assumptions we have lived within for the last century (2).

So what does the near-future hold? More powerful and cheaper processing power; the increased availability and near-ubiquitous dissemination of technologies; real-time communication and interaction; increased intercommunication between devices, platforms, applications and content; the everyday, immediate and personal accessibility of technologies and their increasingly personalised and individualised use are highly likely. Add on improved experiential simulations, 3-D modelling and virtual environments, improved and more various sensory interfaces and real developments in brain-computer interfaces and then add on too the new, unpredictable social uses of these forms. This use is important. Once, it was thought, students matured into media - they’d begin to take a newspaper at University and grow into more serious content as they joined the world of work. Today we can’t expect that generation to move into our media. Instead we’re having to move into theirs. Either way their current media use isn’t a phase: it’s too integrated into the structure of their lives, experiences and relationships and succeeding generations will only bring with them new patterns of media use. Our use is already the past. Sooner or later media studies has to recognise this.


This only begins to sketch the changes and challenges of the post-broadcasting era. Each of these changes in form, content and use take their place within a very different system of media ownership and production, including both real and virtual economics. At the moment, however, it offers enough to suggest that broadcast-era media studies needs rethinking. I’ve called this a media studies 2.0 but before we consider exactly what that is we need to be clear about what it isn’t, as there is an obvious temptation to assume its emphasis on new media ties it into certain positions.

Firstly, whilst MS2.0 emphasises post-broadcasting, it isn’t a rejection of print, cinema, radio and television. These forms remain with us and an MS2.0 is interested in the ways in which each of them has been fundamentally transformed in their production, dissemination, reception and consumption by digital technologies and culture. From this perspective print, radio, TV and cinema have each had to re-align themselves to meet the demands of a different era and market, changing their economic models, their content creation, their distribution, their relationship to other media forms and even their idea of what they are doing and how their products will be used. An MS2.0 foregrounds these changes and their implications.

Secondly MS2.0 isn’t simply a celebration of new media or an expression of faith in its inherently positive and democratising power. McLuhan recognised long ago that ‘many people seem to think that if you talk about something recent, you’re in favour of it’ and discussions of new media are similarly assumed to be in awe of new forms and their possibilities. An MS2.0 presupposes no particular critical position: its starting point is merely the necessity of recognising the reality and impact of new media. Digital technologies are as important for the new systems of governmental and corporate surveillance, integration and control they produce as for the new modes of empowerment they allow.

Thirdly MS2.0 isn’t a call to separate off a ‘new media studies’ as that erroneously implies that a media studies can survive apart from any consideration of new media and that new media can exist as a separable topic.

Fourthly, MS2.0 isn’t a-historical. This is important as discussions of new media are often criticised for celebrating ‘new’ developments that have a longer history. From this perspective MS2.0 depends upon a simplistic periodisation that breaks down if we trace back the individual history of digital computer processing, networked computing and each new media form. If many ‘new’ media forms appeared before many ‘old’ media forms then the division of MS1.0 and 2.0 becomes untenable.

A lot depends on how we use media history. Used negatively, media history is a conservative force, historicising contemporary developments to conjure away anything new and any need to engage with them. A more positive media history recognises that its processes are ongoing and extend into the present and thus that new media is part of its remit. It recognises that new media forms not only display continuities with the past, having their own complex history, but also display discontinuities, offering genuinely new developments. Thus, following Schivelbusch and Standage, the railway and telegraph can historically inform our understanding of the internet and its cultural impact, but we also have to recognise that the internet is different – no prior media offered its real-time, personalised, interactive, multi-media experiences.

More importantly, the recognition of each media’s own history doesn’t invalidate the periodisation I’m offering here. Technologies become revolutionary not at their point of invention or development, but at the point of their popular take-off, dissemination and success – their integration into the everyday life of the population. The essential point is their use. This is what we saw in the last decades of the 20th century as a range of cheaper, more powerful digital technologies were taken up across the population, changing their patterns of media use and consumption. Together these technologies challenged the dominance of the broadcast technologies and their systems of production, distribution and consumption that had defined the 20th century. Their interconnection – their ability to communicate and to transfer content between devices – meant that technical developments in one area or form soon fed into and impacted upon all others, creating a critical mass whose superfusive waves continue to transform the entire media ecology.

Even more relevant is the counter-claim that it is media studies 1.0 that is a-historical. As a product of the broadcast-era it has privileged the history of broadcast forms and, even then, primarily focused upon a limited number of forms – print, cinema, radio, television – ignoring the diversity of broadcast media. Entire media worlds, such as the 18-19th century commercial industries of screen and imagic entertainment and media produced for contemporary mass, urban audiences, have been erased from media studies textbooks. Peepshows, the eidophusikon, panoramas, dioramas, the entire magic lantern industry, commercial photography, stereoscopy and optical toys such as the zoetrope or praxinoscope make little or no appearance in the discipline. To find out about them you have to turn to those who do know about them – the specialist collectors, museum and archive staff and interdisciplinary experts who write about them, the collectors who have them and the collectors clubs and presses that disseminate the information.

The situation is worse for pre-broadcast media. Media studies has ceded any interest in these to other disciplines. Early image making and use is found in archaeology and anthropology; linguistics covers early language; early religious image making is the province of theology; historical western ideas about images and mediation are covered in theology and philosophy; manuscript-era culture is covered in history; aesthetic image-making is art history and photography is photographic studies. The divisions may be logical but what isn’t is our discipline’s decision to cut itself off from most of its own history, as this has significant implications for our ideas about media and the way we teach it (3).

The reason for this separation of pre-broadcast forms is obvious. Media studies has had to fight to establish itself in the academy and to constitute an essentially inter-disciplinary field as a distinct discipline with its own approaches, methods and knowledge. It’s focus upon mass media and mass communication and reception gave it a specific identity and credibility but this came at the price of a limitation of its subject matter. Whilst this was beneficial in the broadcast-era, today these limitations are a fetter to the discipline’s development.

Fortunately, in allowing us to look beyond broadcast forms and to recognise the broadcast-era as one phase in the history of media, new media open up the opportunity to rediscover pre-broadcast forms, to disrupt the linear histories written to explain their development and to find new insight into older forms. An MS2.0, therefore, can be more historical than MS1.0. Indeed, new media may have more in common with neglected and pre-broadcast forms, allowing different histories to be written. Facebook has more in common with cartes-de-visites than with television and Second Life has more in common with the stereoscope, the zograscope, the panorama and peepshow than with radio, cinema or newspapers.

Finally, an MS2.0 isn’t necessarily a study of the west or the privileged. The criticism could be raised that its focus on digital technologies is inadequate when an economic ‘digital divide’ means that both within western societies and globally many have limited or no access to these forms, but this logic is flawed. As examples such as Africa show the development and success of technologies isn’t linear: there the mobile phone is more successful than the land-line and even within western countries different forms have different rates of take-up among different economic classes. In addition, the fact that some nations don’t have certain technologies doesn’t invalidate an interest in them, just as the continuing existence of pre-literate societies doesn’t demand that we renounce any interest in literacy. Given that no society on earth today escapes the impact of digital technologies, being subject to the electronic information, surveillance and weapons systems of the wealthier and more powerful nations, then an MS2.0 isn’t invalidated by global inequalities. On the contrary, it may help to explain them better.


So what is Media Studies 2.0?

Media studies 2.0 is an upgraded media studies. If MS1.0 was a product of the broadcast era and a reflection of its time and its dominant forms and processes then MS2.0 is a reflection of a changed media environment, exploring the post-broadcast, digital era and its implications. If MS1.0 was a media studies for the early 20th C then MS2.0 is a media studies for the early 21st C: a media studies radically receptive to the contemporary age, following and deciphering the media worlds our students live in. MS2.0 is a call for every part of media studies to recognise and open itself up to the changes caused by new media. It is a call to media studies to broaden and update its knowledge and references and to test its ideas, assumptions and arguments against the contemporary world. Above all it is a call for media studies to remain relevant.

The starting point is the return to, systematic revision and updating of the discipline and its constituent subject areas, approaches, methods, ideas and arguments in the light of changing media technologies, worlds, social uses and experiences. No-one individual can decide or direct this process: each of us must confront the changes in our discipline and specialisms and their implications for our knowledge, teaching and research. Clearly this process has already started with much work on digital media already being produced in the discipline. William Gibson’s famous comment – ‘the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed’ – describes the situation well. Digital technologies are being explored in media studies but there hasn’t yet been the discipline-wide recognition that today all of media studies has to confront this world and upgrade itself. There also hasn’t been the recognition yet of how much our student’s media use and world has changed. We’re the ones who still think newspapers, TV, films and radio are significant. Until we understand that for a major part of the population throwing sheep is infinitely more important than Newsnight, The Times or Radio 4 we won’t even see what’s happening in front of us.

Instead of massaging our media world to fit into our established frameworks we need to reconsider the basic classification, content, categories and concepts of broadcast-era media studies, dispensing with aspects that fetter our understanding and radicalising our ideas and arguments to capture the processes that actually form our present. The post-broadcast era gives us the chance to rewrite these models and find entirely new frameworks of analysis; to explore older, deeper, non-linear histories and to realise the inter-disciplinary potential of media studies. The latter is media studies’ great strength. Instead of the limited, conservative, controlled and patrolled zone found in mainstream textbooks and approaches we need to synthesise a more radical, exciting, innovative and forward-looking discipline.

To achieve this we not only need to update existing categories and topics, we also need to foreground different, and even new, aspects of media use and experience. Questions of reality and virtuality are central, as are questions of identity and personalisation; individual production, mashing and making; the new processes of digital labour and its ownership; the hybridity and fluidity of form; media ecologies; the underlying process of code; the materiality of our technologies and our sensory and mental relationships with them; new modes of interface and interactivity; the processes of information organisation, collection and retrieval; the archiving of digital content; copyright, IP rights, pirate cultures and activities; virtual politics and economics; the centrality of pleasures, fun, games and gadgetry; simulations, immersion, ubiquitous media and modes of hyperrealism; new bodily and sensory experiences and the new wirings of the social body all deserve study today.

Add to this entirely new problems in the discipline. In the broadcast-era, apart from the fear of theft, issues of crime and security were irrelevant, as were questions of surveillance and privacy. They simply did not appear in the discipline and no text would have considered their inclusion. Today these are all central issues whose significance is only going to increase in the future – although, typically, most of our textbooks don’t yet consider them worthy of inclusion.

Whilst the idea of an MS2.0 might appear limited, in its emphasis upon issues surrounding new media, on closer inspection it is actually broader and more inclusive than MS1.0 in avoiding the biases that have afflicted the discipline over the last two decades. In particular issues of production, political economy, politics, industries and institutions that have all been marginalised with the dominance of audiences, effects and ethnographic study need to be foregrounded and rethought for the contemporary era. As do theory and technology.

We need a greater theoretical understanding of our new media forms. To date media studies’ willingness to deal with theory (and its very definition of ‘media theory’) has been limited (4), but there is an important historical and contemporary theoretical literature that media studies needs to be aware of and employ. Today, in particular, in a period of rapid technological change, we need an improved theorisation of the materiality of media, our sensory relationship to form, the modes of experience and sociality produced, the impact of new technologies, their use and the significance of their content.

The question of technology might pose the biggest problem for the discipline. The new media ecology cannot be understood without a renewed emphasis upon technology and a consideration of the historical relationship between human life, society and technology but media studies is not well-placed to deal with this. Raymond Williams’ 1974 critique of McLuhan established ‘technological determinism’ as the cardinal sin of the discipline whilst Stuart Hall’s ‘Encoding/Decoding’ model dating from the same year emphasised the moment of audience reception above production, transmission or technology. Together these led to the marginalisation of technology within the subject and aided the rise of contemporary audience studies and effects research. Whilst these have mined a rich research seam the exclusion of any critical debate upon technology and resistance to newer continental theoretical paradigms sweeping the social sciences and humanities in the 1980s-90s meant that media studies was poorly placed to deal with accelerating developments in new media from the mid 1990s. Instead, the most innovative and theoretically-informed explorations of new media came in sociology and cultural studies, in debates around the information society, Post-Fordism, postmodernism, globalisation, cyberculture and cybertheory. Media studies came late to new media, ignoring the existing literature in these fields and their theoretical paradigms to focus instead upon the new media audience.

Contemporary media studies is still hampered by a remarkable hostility to technology, with any mention still being met with the reflex charge of ‘technological determinism’. Repeated too often, this has become an easy and convenient label so integrated into the dominant disciplinary paradigms that we accept it without question. It functions for us as a miraculous word-of-power conjuring away any need to deal with the deeper issues raised or with historical debates and complex philosophical texts that we don’t want to read. As the ‘philosophy of technology’ - one of the most important emerging fields, developed within philosophy, information studies, cultural studies, cultural history and computer science – is ignored within media studies we see once again an entire subject ceded to other disciplines.

So we are left with a discipline that attempts to think the historical processes of communication, mediation, connectivity and shared experiences with little or no reference to technology; a discipline that displays no knowledge of or interest in the historical debates on the relationship between culture and nature and the organic and mechanical that have been central to western thought and civilisation (5); that knows little or nothing about the historical writing on technology or even the work of 19-20th century theorists of technology (expunging all these from its limited definition of ‘media theory’) (6), and a discipline that – even in the middle of a remarkable digital transformation of everyday life – still refuses to consider the question of technology, refusing it any role in human experience, self or society.

Very simply, this is no longer intellectually credible. We need a much more historically informed and sophisticated debate about technology, recognising in particular its metaphysical and epistemological implications. Contemporary developments in electronic communication, in personal technologies, in the simulation of the senses, in interfaces and in implants and prostheses require us to historically contextualise and rethink the relationship between the natural and cultural; the body and technology and the real and its virtual image. The same developments make it even more important to think about the materiality of our media and our sensory and psychic relationship to technology, to recognise that the way in which we communicate, interact, share experiences and bring the world and others to ourselves has a role to play in what we experience, think and feel. Whilst ever we only see a ‘determinism’ in these discussions we’ll never progress to a greater understanding of contemporary processes.

Our fear of technology often extends to our own personal use of it. Whereas in the broadcast-era we broadly understood the basic technical principles of the dominant media and we understood their use – sharing that use with our students – today lecturers are being left behind in their knowledge of what technologies are out there, of their technical possibilities, of how they even work, of how to use them and of what they are being used for. Again, we no longer share a common culture with our students. Unless we can keep up with these changing technologies and uses and unless they become as integral a part of our lives as they are to our students then we will lose both the ability and even the right to teach them. In an era in which we watched and studied TV we had a right to teach it: in the future, unless we’re downloading, sharing, ripping, burning, messaging, networking, playing, building and producing then we’ll lose that right.

All of this points towards the necessity of a new holistic appreciation of media. The specialisms that defined the broadcast-era aren’t going to work when media forms are so fluid, when content moves across them and when modes of experience change so rapidly and move across and transform the whole media ecology. A greater ability to understand, follow and use our technologies allows us to grasp the totality of contemporary media and their interrelated developments and impact. As they move across the form-barrier, so too must we.

This is ultimately a call for us to follow the changes in media rather than ignore them or force them into broadcast-era categories. This isn’t easy – the pace of change, the nature of the changes and the time it takes for their impact to become clear make this a difficult task, but we don’t have any choice but to try. The cutting-edge is no longer an unrepresentative space of uncertain developments, but the place where things happen – where the media ecology is made and forges ahead and where new social uses are discovered. In the broadcast-era new developments rarely transformed the basic structure of the medium, its industries, business models and operation or did so only slowly and under the control of the major broadcast companies. Today changes impact upon all of these. In the age of the permanent media beta we can’t wait for things to settle before we consider them: today nothing settles.

McLuhan famously said he didn’t try to predict the future as anyone could do that. He decided instead to tackle ‘the really tough one’ – to predict the present. Applied to media studies that becomes a demand for a discipline that is radically receptive to the present: that confronts, traces, follows and critically explores its own on-going transformation; that embraces the threat to its own modules, accumulated lecture notes, established and comfortable knowledge and research to ensure its relevancy for coming generations.

These debates about the discipline have to happen as the study of media is already escaping media studies. As we have seen, in establishing its own boundaries media studies concentrated upon the dominant broadcast technologies, ceding off the study of pre-broadcast forms to other disciplines: a strategy and broadcast bias that is now holding the discipline back. With their impact upon every aspect of life the study of digital technologies is being taken up across the academic world such that, today, there are very few areas of the arts and humanities (plus other subjects such as computing and information studies) that aren’t interested in and publishing on media. In remaining tied to broadcast forms and concepts media studies itself is lagging behind. It is significant that the major contemporary texts on new media aren’t being produced by authors with a background in or working in media studies and don’t include any reference to the subject or its knowledge (7).

Moreover, entirely new paradigms about the masses and their behaviour are becoming popular – ideas of ‘collective intelligence’ and ‘the wisdom of crowds’ – that challenge traditional ideas about the audience in media studies. Not only are these ideas omitted from our textbooks but they are being developed outside of our discipline (in particular from the confluence of science, computing, psychology and business studies) with no reference to it. It is essential that media studies is part of these debates, taking its ideas into these new arenas to challenge and modify these new paradigms. If ideas of the wisdom of crowds are gaining in credibility then media studies needs not only to incorporate these new ideas into itself it also needs to critique them and develop them within its own knowledge and perspectives. It can’t do this whilst ever it remains a study of broadcast forms and concepts. Unless it takes its knowledge into fields that are already exploring new media without it then it is in danger of being left behind on the very subject that defines it.

But new media don’t just impact upon our discipline and knowledge they also have the potential to transform how we teach and transmit it. Perhaps one of the most important ways they can do this is by transforming academic publishing and the dissemination of our ideas. Universities are products of literate modernity, stamped with literate values and academics internalise these, subscribing to a hierarchy of academic publishing that privileges books and journals above other forms of expression. This academic publishing follows a scarcity-led broadcast model in which a publisher broadcasts academic output to a national or international audience, with limitations on the number of titles each publisher can produce and the page count of each text together with the need to make each book economically successful necessitating careful editorial decisions and the employment of readers and referees to assess submissions and monitor content. Academics may complain in private at this model and its processes, but they depend upon it for publication.

Except this system does not produce the best results. Economic considerations lead many contemporary publishers to focus on textbooks and rework and package academic texts as textbooks, leading to fewer academic monographs and a difficulty in placing anything new that doesn’t repeat the existing field in a way that guarantees its use for pre-specified modules and courses. The result is a predictability and conservativism in many academic publisher catalogues, the loss of publisher reputations built upon the variety and originality of their titles and a promotional inflation of ordinary texts as revolutionary and new to simulate the innovation lacking in the commissioning process. Ultimately this predictability and conservativism feeds back into the courses and the research of staff.

Academic print journals have their own problems. Though their proliferation suggests they are successful, their real impact is negligible as most humanities and social science journal articles go unread. Their value lies entirely in the academic privilege they receive rather than the impact of their scholarship upon the field. Ultimately this mode of academic vanity-publishing compares unfavourably to the potential offered by web publishing which not only allows more papers to be published (as it is less restricted by the scarcity-economics of physical publishing) but also provides an unparalleled opportunity to take academic ideas out of the academy (and out of the libraries that can afford them) to the whole population, making articles available for free in one’s own home.

The broadcast model’s reliance on the ‘expert culture’ of referees could also be questioned. Contemporary arguments about the ‘long tail’ of knowledge (Anderson), ‘collective intelligence’ (Levy) and ‘the wisdom of crowds’ (Surowiecki) suggest these gate-keepers are no longer needed: the audience can decide for itself the value of ideas placed in the public sphere. Most academics would be outraged by that idea, arguing that even if academics could judge the value of academic papers the mass of students and the public could not. But every academic knows the refereeing process is flawed: every academic has horror stories concerning dubious referee comments and decisions and the disproportionate weight given them by editorial boards and publishers. The expertise of chosen referees varies considerably; the suitability of their selection may be questionable and many use their position to further their own agendas, their own work and their own interpretation of the field and to control what will be allowed to be read. As Anderson points out, pre-production filters lead to a limitation of what is available and its manipulation into pre-existing, successful forms and patterns; an analysis that applies well to traditional academic publishing.

In a post-scarcity market these pre-production filters are no longer necessary. We should trust the academic community and our own public – the students and others who might read our work – far more. Over time the wisdom of crowds will make a better choice as to what is important for the field and what ideas will be taken up and survive. We need to exploit the potential of web publishing to open-source our ideas – to open them up for comments, discussion and revision – and let the field determine their value. This would have the added benefit of promoting more original work and newer ideas and research that pushes the boundaries of fields rather than merely satisfying the conservative experts that patrol them.

The biggest problem with academic publishing, however, is that it is always obsolete. It takes long enough to research and write an article or book but add to that the time it takes to pass though a series of referees, readers, proof-readers and editors and the time it takes to fit into their schedules, prepare the marketing and to print and ship it to the shops. Add the time it takes to be noticed, reviewed, bought and read and quoted in the field and it’s obvious that traditional publishing can’t keep up with contemporary media. By the time a book’s published, it’s out of date. That may always have been the case but accelerating developments and the inter-linked impact of changes across industries, economies, forms, processes and modes of use make this one of the most significant problems for the field today. We can justify what we do by suggesting that we offer a considered overview explaining the broader changes but the fact remains that the subject area is massively behind the student’s experiences. Try recommending books for students to read for lectures on Facebook: Turkle and Rheingold are still the best options we have but their world of the Well and MUDs is meaningless to today’s students. Again, web publishing seems to be the answer – cheap, instant, global, it allows for faster, updateable commentary, for freer expression, more debate and the opportunity of a rapid response and on-going critical dialogue. Even if it doesn’t replace books we should be using it to throw out faster, draft responses to the world, to engage with each other, to take our subject out of our libraries into the world to a broader public and to challenge our field.


In 1965 Jeffrey Owen Jones, a summer intern at Time magazine, hit upon the idea of an article on the renaissance of the harmonica in contemporary music. Visiting the Newport folk festival he managed to secure a five minute interview with Bob Dylan, where he asked his questions about the instrument whilst Dylan answered politely. The next day, in one of the most talked-about events in modern popular music, Dylan ‘went electric’. When Jones heard the song ‘Ballad of a Thin Man’ on Dylan’s next album with its stinging line, ‘Something is happening here and you don’t know what it is, do you Mr. Jones?’, he knew it was about him. Even the Dylan groupies screaming and shaking the truck had failed to alert him to the fact that something else was happening. On the eve of Dylan’s revolutionary embrace of amplification and transformation of early-60s rock and roll all he’d seen was the harmonica (8). Media studies today is at exactly the same point: an intellectual and generational shift is happening in front of us.

Perhaps a more acceptable academic way of explaining this is through Thomas Kuhn’s idea of paradigm shifts. Although his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, dealt with the transformation of the physical not the social sciences the argument remains relevant. Both progress not through the accumulation of facts and knowledge but through periods of upheaval in which older paradigms are challenged by new paradigms. ‘Scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense … often restricted to a narrow subdivision of the scientific community, that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way’. This recognition leads to a split into camps or parties, ‘one seeking to defend the old institutional constellation, the others seeking to institute some new one’. Once that polarisation has occurred, Kuhn notes, ‘political discourse fails’ – ‘each group uses its own paradigm to argue in that paradigm’s defence’. The differences between paradigms, however, are about more than substance; they are also about how the subject itself is conducted: they include differences in methods, the problem-field and standards of solution accepted by the community. As such differences between paradigms are ‘both necessary and irreconcilable’.

What are decisive in the end are not the arguments each camp mounts but the existence of ‘anomalies’ – of phenomena the older paradigm struggles to explain. The older paradigms tries to force these anomalies into its structures and integrate them but its problems in doing so give rise to new theories that are better at explaining their processes. Eventually the inadequacy of the older paradigm convinces others of the merits of the newer paradigm which becomes acceptable when it receives ‘the assent of the relevant community’ (9).

This disciplinary paradigm shift is what we are dealing with today. Developments in digital technology aren’t a cumulative ‘add on’ to media studies that can be adequately explained through the existing concepts, categories and research. Look at the violence done to the richness of the new media user-experience in reducing their functioning to an ‘audience’. They represent instead a fundamental challenge to and transformation of the broadcast-era model of the discipline. They demand a richer, more sophisticated reading of the complexities of the digital era: they demand a post-broadcasting, digital paradigm.

As an established disciplinary paradigm media studies 1.0 has a long-standing personal, institutional and ideological investment in its own status quo. As such, as Kuhn suggests, the idea of a paradigmatic shift – of an upgrade – will inevitably provoke hostility. Arguments will be marshalled to explain the value of the older paradigm and how it can explain the digital world around it but the new paradigm has already placed enough questions in the minds of many teaching media today. As my colleague David Berry has argued, quoting Kuhn:

“At the start a new candidate for paradigm may have few supporters, and on occasions the supporters' motives may be suspect. Nevertheless, if they are competent, they will improve it, explore its possibilities, and show what it would be like to belong to a community guided by it. And as that goes on, if the paradigm is one destined to win its fight, the number and strength of the persuasive arguments in its favor will increase. More scientists will then be converted, and the exploration of the new paradigm will go on. Gradually, the number of experiments, instruments, articles, and books based upon the paradigm will multiply. Still more men [sic], convinced of the new view's fruitfulness, will adopt the new mode of practicing normal science, until at last only a few elderly holdouts remain. Though the historian can always find men [sic] - Priestly for instance - who were unreasonable to resist for as long as they did, he will not find a point at which resistence becomes illogical or unscientific. At most he may wish to say that the man [sic] who continues to resist after his whole profession has been converted has ipso facto ceased to be a scientist” (10).

If media studies wants to remain relevant in the digital era for succeeding generations of students then a more radical re-examination and reconceptualization of the discipline is required. This idea may not carry, it may be easily dismissed and forgotten now, but the basic problems in the discipline it describes aren’t going away and the direction it advocates is inevitably the direction the discipline will go. It’s time to remember McLuhan’s mischievous description of a sociologist as someone who ‘permits himself to see only what is acceptable to his colleagues’; a description that applies equally to our own discipline. We have the opportunity today to permit ourselves to think and see something else. We have the opportunity to fashion a new paradigm that reflects and explains the new media world that is emerging all around us. We have the chance of a media studies 2.0.


1. See ‘Media Studies 2.0’ at: ; Soon after David Gauntlett developed the same phrase in his article at: and we set up a discussion forum for the issues at: Although Prof. Gauntlett and I come from very different perspectives in media studies what we share is a recognition of the importance of new media and its implications for the field: a recognition that new media developments necessitate not only an updating of the discipline’s content but a transformation of the discipline itself.

2. And this is only to consider what we can already see happening around us now. Samuel Butler in 1872, discussing the great strides machines had made in the last thousand years, asked one of the most chilling questions when he said, ‘may not the world last twenty million years longer … what will they not in the end become?’. Applying such time-scales to contemporary developments in media is dizzying. Ironically, however, what saves us is that we may not even be in a position to guess the future anymore. Once we could project stable current trends and phenomenon and construct science-fiction fantasies about where they might lead. Today we don’t even know if DRM is here to stay or will be swept away next month. Developments now happen so fast and take us into completely different directions: forget the far future, we can’t even guess next year. For those worried by Castronova’s comments, however, that can hardly be a more comforting thought.

3. Our treatment of media ‘representation’ is typical here. This is one of the most important theological, philosophical and political problematics in western civilisation but you wouldn’t know it from our textbooks. These focus upon 20th century media forms (films adverts, magazine images), approached through a limited theoretical framework (semiology, ideology, feminism) and methodological analysis (discourse analysis, content analysis). In the process the entire history of images and their role is elided. To understand the history use, power and function of images in western culture we need to turn to the historical theological, philosophical and anthropological literature on images. Yet we don’t: the history of images is instead considered part of other disciplines and media studies constitutes itself with little or no reference to these histories, leading to an artificially circumscribed definition both of media and its history. In contrast an MS2.0 understands that Tertullian, Origen, Eusebius, Dionysus Areopagitica, John of Damascus and Theodore of Studion are as important as Stuart Hall, Saussure, Pierce, Barthes, Jakobsen, and Dyer. In MS2.0 Plato is at least as important as Mulvey.

4. Whereas in sociology or cultural studies students receive a training in the historical development of theory in their discipline, this is rare in media studies. Media studies lacks any agreed canon of thinkers or even a clear sense of what theory is and what should be taught under it, with different institutions and individuals constructing wildly different versions of the field. It often ignores the history of thinkers/movements and simply teaches concepts (narrative/ideology etc.); it fails to teach its own history, with thinkers who dominated the field two decades ago (such as Althusser and Gramsci) now ignored, and it is highly selective about what theorists are considered acceptable. Hence whilst some theory is popular – semiology, feminism, audience theory, public sphere theory – there are huge gaps in the coverage. Much contemporary media theory is better taught in sociology, cultural studies and cyberculture (such as Baudrillard, Virilio, Kittler, Castells, Deleuze, Zizek, Hayles, Levy, Benkler, Lessig, Moravec, Drexler, Mazlish, Kurzweil), leading to a remarkably circumscribed conception of theory in the discipline. Unlike in sociology or cultural studies, few media lecturers study theory in detail plus there seem to be fewer working in theory and many texts are published with very little theoretical content or analysis.

5. For the best discussion of historical western debates about technology see David F. Channell’s The Vital Machine: A Study of Technology and Organic Life (Oxford: Oxford University press, 1991), which explores both mechanical philosophy in the west (and its conclusion that organic life is mechanical) and the opposing organic philosophy (and its conclusion, that technology itself is like life).

6. Media studies doesn’t teach technology; limits the teaching of the history of technology and ignores the history of theoretical work upon our relationship with technology and the relationship between technology and nature. Writers like Carlyle, Ure, Butler, Kapp, Engelmeier, Dessauer, Sombart, Junger, Spengler, Marinetti, Mumford, Heidegger, Giedion, Wiener, Innis, Ellul, De Chardin and Illich etc. are almost entirely absent from media studies, as are the contemporary discussions of technology taking place in other fields. In addition, the available books on the history of technology aren’t being written within our discipline. Most are written by journalists, IT specialists, science-writers, historians and specialist collectors and are more likely to be found in the ‘popular science’ section of bookshops than on the media studies shelves. Even if media studies lecturers find and use these texts in their teaching they don’t write them and the mainstream delineation of the discipline and its interests and knowledge rarely makes any reference to them.

7. Consider some of the key, best-selling academic texts on new media and their authors. Lawrence Lessig (The Future of Ideas, Free Culture, Code), Yochai Benkler (The Wealth of Networks), Jack Goldsmith and Tim Wu (Who Controls the Internet?) and David Weinberger (The Cluetrain Manifesto, Everything is Miscellaneous) are all located in law departments; Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams (Wikinomics) have a business background; Dan Gillmor (We, the Media) and Chris Anderson (The Long Tail) are journalists and Edward Castronova (Synthetic Worlds, Exodus to the Virtual World) is an economist. References to ideas developed in media studies are notably absent in these works.

8. See

9. Thomas, Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (University of Chicago Press, 1962). See Chapter IX, ‘The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions’ available at:

10. Thomas Kuhn, quoted by David Berry, at:


ailsa said...

Thankyou for this, coming to the discipline of media studies because i need to know more about the changing shape of communication skills, it was useful for me to have this thoughtful differentiation and history in the development of media studies. I too find a challenge in 'teaching students' when they have a greater knowledge of communication and computer technologies than i. I too 'play catchup'.

Mark202 said...

An interesting and well argued post. I trace an influence of Mark Poster's second media age in your argument for Media Studies 2.0.

vagner godoi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
vagner godoi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sean Smith said...

William....great post, and on an initial skim share many of your thoughts. I'll have to give it more of a proper read shortly, but thanks for taking the time.

The Philosopher Queen said...

I really enjoyed reading your post... I'm a philosophy major who is taking a Political Science class elective, the topic being "Politics and the Media." I feel that my professor is taking great strides to understand "media 2.0" However, I would love to use your article as a source in an upcoming paper, but all of our sources are required to be from "academic sources/journals." No blogs. No matter the credentials or sources of the author. I certainly am not negating the value of those journals, but the point of the entire class is the idea of evolving media, etc. Ahh well.