Henry Jenkins and the old media

It was quite funny. There we were,  Derrick Paulo and me, sitting in a lecture theatre listening to someone talk about the new media. It’s been exactly ten years since our first year in NTU where we had fun listening to Joseph Sommerville et al talking about the same stuff, just sans YouTube and Google.

And just like old times, we giggled, gossiped and dozed off slightly during the long session while writing notes.

Anyway, the speaker was Henry Jenkins, quite the guru when it comes to new media academia. Nothing truly new for me, but it was good to see someone smart crystallise the facts into more focused, less hyped-up, and more academic nuggets.

Especially important for most of the participants who don’t have their own blogs or even MP3 players.

I was amused to hear about the story of how one lady was not too happy with her daughter studying before the exams with her iPod plugged in. Her daughter was actually listening to her own lecture notes, but hey, when I was studying, the radio or Walkman was always on full blast. This is what we define as The Generation Gap.

But I was not amused was when this PR practitioner stood up and said most of the online stuff that people are crazy over is “rubbish” to her.

Actually her point was that it was difficult for her to find useful stuff on the Internet apart from traditional media content (like a PDF of a print magazine interview), and she couldn’t get the hang of being a constant web community. It’s this sort of dismissal that will cause the older folks to be blindsided when the carpet is suddenly pulled from under their feet and they realise the old media ground no longer exists.

Media habits are changing among the young, and while (like Jenkins believes) the old media will not die off but become more involved, the important thing is for the un-blogged/un-Webbed not to stick their head in the sand and ignore the whole seismic shift. On the other hand, we should not go seeking for instant solutions to fix the future either, because the future has just gotten far more unpredictable.

What the media needs are strong values, fundamental skills, an unassailable moral compass and a big dose of sensibility to see us through the next 10 years of online upheaval.

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