New communication technologies and society.

Author:Caristi, Dom

Lievrouw, L., & Livingstone, S. (Eds.). (2002). Handbook of new media: Social shaping and consequences of ICTs. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. 564 pages.

Schuler, D., & Day, P. (Eds.). (2004). Shaping the network society: The new role of civil society in cyberspace. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. 433 pages.

Terms for "new media" are almost as prevalent as the media themselves. "Cyberspace" has been used by those wishing to connote a zone in which electronic communications occur. "Information and Communication Technology" (ICT) is a term that fuses the purpose and delivery system within the name. Who can forget the popular metaphor of the 1990s, the "Information Superhighway," with all its associated imagery: on-ramps and off-ramps, the fast lane, and perhaps most remembered, roadkill? All of these labels and many others are attempts to characterize new media in a way that refrains from using the term "new," avoiding the inevitable question of how long a medium must exist before it is no longer considered new. As Leah Lievrouw and Sonia Livingstone state in the introduction to their text:

 The field needs a definition that is abstract enough to accommodate the range of systems, contents, issues and settings that researchers consider essential, yet not so broad that new media cannot be distinguished from other established areas within communication research and other disciplines. (p. 5) 

In trying to define what constitutes new media, it may be best to remember Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart's famous characterization of obscenity: "I know it when I see it" (Jacobellis v. Ohio, 1964).

There has been no shortage of books attempting to define the new landscape. Approaches are as varied as the authors themselves: everything from "how to" books (McAdams, 2005) to rhetorical studies (Murray, 1997) to philosophy (Hansen, 2004). Two recent publications focus on the social impacts of new media. Each text is a collection of essays from an eclectic collection of authors, intended to provide the reader with a diversity of perspectives into new media and their effects on modern society.

Handbook of New Media

The 31 essays in the Handbook of New Media are divided into six content areas: the changing social landscape; technology design and development; new media and organizing; systems, industries, and markets; policy and regulation; and culture and new media. The overall text is interdisciplinary, with contributors coming from economics, political science...

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