Internet takes place in media hierarchy

It has been fascinating to observe the waves of reaction to the introduction of the Internet over the past few years.

The arrival of all major new technologies produces some very predictable responses.

They are readily classified as the Fad Response, The Takeover Re-sponse, The Inadequate Reactive Response and the Mature Response.

Only two or three years ago the vast majority of Australia’s opinion leaders and decision-makers regard-ed the net as “just another fad.”

The second very predictable response follows the discovery that the new technology is indeed a major technology.

There is all too often a leap of faith and belief that the new technology is about to suffocate all existing technologies in that particular field.

In respect of the media industry, the history of the past one hundred years suggests successive waves of new technology do not necessarily supplant, but do significantly modify, the role of the existing media.

The third predictable response is the inadequate reactive response when the application of the new technology produces a series of difficult real life problems.

Decision makers under these circumstances can be relied on to trot out old paradigm reactions that are doomed to fail.

A classic example of this was the Federal Parliament’s recent inappropriate and inadequate attempt to censor the Internet.

Finally, after the passage of some years, a more mature response, based upon a better understanding of the capacity and limits of the new technology, emerges.

The new technology is exploited to its fullest and a more logical and measured approach is adopted in handling the problems associated with the introduction of the new technology.

Internet technology is producing a major revolution in publishing that features a quite extraordinary new media capability.

The Internet itself is the result of the convergence of three of the 20th century’s greatest technologies: the telephone, the television and the computer.

The take up of the telephone was painfully slow. Almost 100 years on telephone companies are no longer dealing in voice traffic but are multi media organisations.

When television arrived in Australia in 1956 it was expected to eliminate radio.

No-one told us that, in 1999, 100 per cent of cars would have radios and that we would spend most of our listening time in automobiles.

The arrival of the video was expected to spell the end for cinema.

For a while it seemed this would happen but now we are experiencing an unprecedented expansion of places to go to watch movies.

Websites for movie houses now provide a wealth of information with detailed critiques and reviews available 24 hours a day.

Then there is print media. All sorts of predictions have been made about the future of books, magazines and newspapers in the Internet Age.

Despite the arrival of the net, record numbers of books are being published year after year.

At the same time a special relationship between publishers and consumers of books is emerging.

Most newspapers now have at least a website and have made effective use of Internet based email.

It is quite apparent the net will not snuff out all existing forms of media.

It will, however, demand its place in the sun and it will most certainly modify both the role of and relationships among the existing media technologies.

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