What is the “New Media”?

When people ask what I do, I tell them I’m a writer. Then they ask what I write, and I say I mostly write online. They then look at me quizzically, like they understand the words but don’t comprehend their meaning. They always ask, “like what?”

Like what?

Like the internet isn’t mostly text, and that the text and content they interact with daily doesn’t have to be written by someone. Like all the content, from the longest essay to the smallest lolcat didn’t have to be created by someone.

Now, I know that inside, deep inside, in the cockles of their hearts, they know all of this. I also realize that this is just an updated version of the treatment writers, artists, and thinkers have always gotten about what they do. This is normal.

What bothers me is when writers, people who should know better, still don’t get it. They just ask if I ever plan to do any “real” writing. As if what I do here and else less real than other writing.lolcat

When I have these conversations, I try to make my point.

me: Do you read?

them: Yes, of course.

me: Do you mean for news, entertainment, and information?

them: Yes.

me: Do you read about those things in newspapers, magazines, and books?

them: Oh, no, I do all that online.

Now, if this were a story, I would go silent and wait a beat, then they would go “Ohhh” with a look that showed their comprehension. Like the professional tale-spinner I am, I try to do this in real life, but it never works. They just wait for me to go on, and I stand there looking increasingly stupid.

The point is, what is this that we do? What is the “new media”? What is so different about writing for the new media that I made my blog about it? Is it the same as writing in other mediums? Well, obviously I would say no. I would say that the “new media” is a developing form of art in itself, a platform for literature and creativity impossible before the internet. It’s a new game with new rules.

So, the new media is all forms of media that exist through the internet primarily or only. Web-shows and podcasts, fanfilms and blogs, videos and playlists. The odds are that you probably have already contributed to the new media by talking on forums or commenting on articles, and never even realized it. We are all a part of this online creation. We exist in it and we help create it.

If you want to make writing your career, you have a choice to make. You can go the route of writers of prior generations and hack away at your novel and snail-mail it off to publishers, waiting for editors to get around to your corner of the slush-pile. Or you can get online, go into business for yourself, and pursue writing in the new media. Whichever it is, you need to be able to write, but to write in the new media you need some other skills and tricks as well.

For the next few posts, I am going to talk about the craft of writing itself, and how writing for the new media is different than writing for print. I have some topics I plan on covering, but I want to put out a call for questions from other writers and people getting started:

Do any of you have any questions or issues you would like to discuss?

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