Networks in the context of other media

The Internet is only one of many communication media. Others include the wireline phone network, the cellular phone network, movies, CDs, newspapers, magazines, radio, delivery services and the post office.

Some of these are broadcast media. Radio, television, magazines, newspapers, movies and CDs are created by a single organization and broadcasts to many. The large audience justifies great expense in creating content.

The audience may be large and diffuse or relatively small with a common interest. For example the Cooking Channel has a more focused audience than NBC TV. Even with a small audience, these are still one-many broadcast media.

Other media are used primarily for one-one communication. These include the telephone and postal service. These may also be used for broadcast at times, for instance, in doing bulk mail through the postal service or telemarketing.

Some of these media may also be used for limited many-many communication. For example, you can create a conference call on the telephone network and talk radio allows a few audience members to speak.

Network applications are noteworthy because they cross all of these boundaries.

Web sites of companies like Amazon, Yahoo, Google, Ford Motor company, the New York Times and CNN are designed to reach large audiences.

Other Web sites broadcast to smaller specialized groups. In some cases, it may be only a handful of people. A Webcast on a technical topic or the Web site with pictures of my grand children is for relatively few people.

Email, instant messaging, voice over IP, video conferencing are primarily used for one-one communication, although they may also be used by groups.

Blogs, email list server, chat rooms, threaded discussion, teleconferences, and other applications are used by groups in many-many communication.

Networks facilitate the discovery of previously unknown information, people and organizations. Traditionally, we have used media like the Yellow Pages or advertising to find products. Directories and ads are also used on networks, but networked applications can also use search and data mining to discover unknown information and relationships.

Even in "broadcast" applications, user-generated content often plays a key role. For example, Amazon users post product reviews which are of value to future customers. Amazon is also able to mine their transaction and search data, letting users know what others like them have purchased or looked at.

Is this the future of media?

Is this the future of media?

An audio presentation on two free media hosting sites, Open Media Network and Ourmedia.org and their implications.

Listen to The best blogging newspapers from American Public Media.