The future of digital communication, the Web, and the Internet continue to face evolving technological trends and issues. It is important for society to adapt to the rapid changes in the digital industry. In doing so, consumers will become not only capable viewers but skilled consumers as well. Additionally, individuals have the capability to excel in the workforce of technological trades by incorporating such advancements.
Some of the most prevalent issues that this industry encounters include the evolution of smartphones, Generation Z, propaganda, net neutrality, and fake news. Tim Berners-Lee believes the system if failing. In an article in The Guardian, he says, “I’m still an optimist, but an optimist standing at the top of the hill with a nasty storm blowing in my face, hanging on to a fence. We have to grit our teeth and hang on to the fence and not take it for granted that the web will lead us to wonderful things.” Advertising has created the growing expansion of propaganda and false information among digital platforms. Additionally, net neutrality is facing a set back due to Trump’s commitment to eliminate its principles.
According to Digital Trends, the top trends in 2017 are the Internet of Things, AI and automation, the rise of synthetic food, the physical and digital world blur, and 3D printing. Moreover, Information Management mentions various other trends emerging in 2018, such as AI foundation, intelligent apps and analytics, intelligent things, digital twin, cloud to the edge, conversational platforms, immersive experience blockchain, event driven, and continuous adaptive risk and trust.
Other prevalent trends include the emergence of drones, sensors, wearables, and virtual reality. The use of drones is changing the way journalists are telling stories. In an article in JSK, Dawn Garcia says, “Cameras attached to drones can capture amazing, engaging visual content, but drones also offer new ways to capture data through sensors attached to drones, not to mention the ability to get into areas otherwise inaccessible to journalists.” Virtual reality first became accessible among video game developing, and it has continued to gain velocity among other digital technologies. In an article in Recode, Eric Johnson mentions the future of virtual reality may, in fact, be augmented reality.
One of the innovations that I find most prevalent in my daily routine is the emergence of video streaming. This innovation, in addition to video on demand, is greatly impactful. This is due to the shift from purchasing cable packages or DVDs and Blu-rays in video stores to investing in services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now, and Showtime, among others. Video streaming has become widely accepted and used in today’s society and technological environment. Innovations such as these and many others will play a major role in future of the digital world.
Gregg Michael Gillis, commonly known as Girl Talk, is an American musician and disk jockey from Cleveland, Ohio, and his expertise is in mashups and digital sampling. One of his albums, Night Ripper, had potentially 300 copyright infringements and approximately $45 million in financial liability penalty. The documentary RiP! A Remix Manifesto describes that while some individuals may view his work as copyright infringement, many listeners believe he is “a creative rebel of a mash-up artist.” Other similar artists, such as DJ Earworm, Mashup-Germany, Checkpoint Mary, and The Hood Internet, among others, should be allowed to record and sell their work because they are using existing music as inspiration to create new forms of art. The documentary refers to a mashup as “a fun and adventurous way to make something fresh out of something stale.”
There are various important legal considerations associated with our digital environment, especially as more regulation is being put into place with the increased use of the Internet. Professor Mark Grabowski mentions, “Technology touches virtually every aspect of our lives and often is affected by laws.” It is legal for schools and employers to regulate the Internet. The Children’s Internet Protection Act, for example, allows certain restrictions to be put on computers in schools and libraries. Online information is considered public, therefore, companies are allowed to examine potential employees. Particular copyright laws pertain to the Internet, specifically with the use of online photos. Some laws, such as online defamation, may be more unclear because it is difficult to distinguish the degree of liability of Internet service providers. Cyberbullying is another use of the Internet that falls under a gray area, and this is due to the fact that opinions are protected by the First Amendment. According to Stanford University Libraries, “a fair use is any copying of copyrighted material done for a limited and transformative purpose, such as to comment upon, criticize, or parody a copyrighted work,” and it includes four factors:
- The Purpose and Character of the Use
- The Nature of the Copyrighted Work
- The Amount or Substantiality of the Portion Used
- The Effect of the Use on the Potential Market for or Value of the Work
“Net neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions on content, sites, platforms etc. related to the Internet,” according to Grabowski. The video What is “Net Neutrality?” explains how phone and cable companies want to change the same level playing field to control parts of the Web. They want to earn money from those paying for quicker Internet speeds, and in order to do so, these companies have to get rid of net neutrality. In The Nation, John Nichols warns readers that Trump and his Communications Commission chair are fighting to “throttle net neutrality – the first amendment of the Internet that guarantees equal protection for all voices in the digital universe where we now live.”
The concept of Long Tail was created by Chris Anderson. It is a business model that focuses on selling less of more. Anderson believes that “products in low demand or with low sales volume can collectively make up a market share that rivals or exceeds the relatively few current bestsellers and blockbusters but only if the store or distribution channel is large enough,” according to Investopedia. In other words, Long Tail centers on less popular products that are in lower demand, and the market for such products could, in fact, compete with more conventional and mainstream products.
It is a particularly useful business model in the music industry because of the wide range of niches among genres. In the WIRED, Anderson mentions, “What’s really amazing about the Long Tail is the sheer size of it. Combine enough nonhits on the Long Tail and you’ve got a market bigger than the hits.” Companies on the Internet, such as Google and eBay, are integrating this business model, and, in turn, are capable of exploring new audiences. Anderson highlights three important rules when incorporating the Long Tail:
- Make everything available.
- Cut the price in half. Now lower it.
- Help me find it.
King Gillette conceptualized the idea that companies are able to earn an income by giving away something for free, which seemed unheard of until recently. The “free” business model is based on the idea that the price of products is declining, and companies are still able to make a profit. The Web particularly embodies this model. For example, Google provides free services to its users. According to Gillette, “A decade and a half into the great online experiment, the last debates over free versus pay online are ending.” The elements of creativity and design are essential to Internet companies, and incorporating new business models, such as Long Tail and “free,” are just a couple of forms in which companies are able evolve and expand their audiences and consumers.
The potential for programming and the role of product manager have continuously begun to evolve. Traditional media skills are only the basic abilities that professionals need to succeed in their careers. The videos provided by Dr. Cindy Royal’s Production Management course at the Knight Center introduce the background and principal roles of this position. Jackie Spinner discusses how “coding is the new grammar” in an article in American Journalism Review. Additionally, Spinner mentions how institutions are beginning to integrate computer programming in their offerings, particularly because media major graduates with journalism and computer science skills are in higher demand. While many colleges are teaching basic HTML in their journalism programs, students are wanting to delve deeper into other programming proficiencies.
I have integrated such skills in my career in the media industry because it has become essential to have a wider set of knowledge, and I will continue to do so. Working at post production company, I utilized both my video production skills and basic programming abilities as I handled the company’s website, specifically with various video reels for client viewing.
Individuals may face challenges in acquiring programming skills because not all journalism programs in colleges are integrating these new concepts into their curriculum. These teachings may not be accessible to all incoming students. It is important that schools acknowledge the importance of producing well-rounded students as they enter the media industry. Another issue that may arise is that some companies find it easier to teach journalism to programmers. Greg Linch, a project editor for the Washington Post, says, “It’s easier to teach journalism skills to people who already know programming. Everybody I’ve met who uses code as their primary tool in the newsroom has fantastic critical thinking skills and asks a lot of really good questions.” Therefore, it is essential for aspiring media professionals to gain all the vital skills that will allow them to perform successfully in the industry.
The use of smartphones continues to evolve with more technological advances. Various reports specify the distinct forms of utility they perform. According to “U.S. Smartphones Use in 2015” from the Pew Center Research, almost two-thirds of Americans owned smartphones in 2015. Another report, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2017,” demonstrated that two-thirds of U.S. adults receive their news from social media in 2017. Additionally, the report indicated that older, nonwhite, less educated individuals are increasingly using social media for use.
In 2010, almost half of Americans turned to four to six platforms as news resources. The Internet has greatly increased how consumers receive news. With the growing use of smartphones, specifically social media, news organizations must adapt to the evolving way its users will read their content. This, in turn, affects how journalism will engage in more innovated ways. In addition to making a migration to online media, as many organizations have done so already, news is required to fit into all forms of social media platforms. It is key that journalists keep up with the current times and continue to do so as the digital world continues to evolve, ensuring that they are marketing themselves to their audiences.
In “Superpowers: The Digital Skills Media Leaders Say Newsroom Need Going Forward,” Mark Stencel and Kim Perry mention that “news organizations want to hire new kinds of journalists who combine coding, visual production and audience acquisition skills with traditional reporting competence and even a little entrepreneurial savvy.” Not only do journalists require their conventional capabilities but it is critical that they acquire additional technological and digital proficiencies as well.
These additional techniques should be introduced to students at a younger age. High schools that have access to current technologies have begun to teach data, programming and production to their students. Individuals should engage in other related disciplines as they are pursuing degrees in journalism. In “Above & Beyond: Looking at the Future of Journalism Education,” Dianne Lynch mentions how institutions have merged programs such as journalism, communications, telecommunications and film studies. Due to news organizations’ digital shift, data and programming are an important element to journalists’ success.
Charter Communications is the second largest U.S. cable provider, according to USA Today. Charter Spectrum subscribers were anticipating losing Viacom channels this past Sunday due to an expiring contract. Viacom’s networks include Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Spike, MTV, BET, CMT and VHI, among others. Viacom and Charter came to an agreement on a short-term extension while they decide on their renewal options. Charter would like to avoid losing these channels because their subscribers, which is over 16 million, will lose these networks. However, if no agreement is reached, Viacom could potentially lose $760 million, which is approximately 15% of their annual revenue, according to CNBC.
Prior to this, Charter made changes to their television packages, making Viacom channels part of a more expensive package. According to Variety, Charter believes that they have been overpaying Viacom for its networks. The offer that Charter made to Viacom would allow them to provide bundles at varied prices to their customers. It is likely that the two companies will come to a mutual agreement because they have been working together for so long. While Viacom has yet to accept Charter’s offer, the companies claimed to be mainly concerned with their customers’ interests. During the time that the companies finalize the terms of their agreement in principle, Spectrum subscribers will continue to have access to the majority of Viacom’s channels.