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The history of media is divided into the four categories, known as waves. The first wave refers to the era of photography as the main form of media used in America. Photography came in as the world was getting used to the rise of industry in the West, and the aesthetic reaction to transformations, known as romanticism.
The second generation is the era of cinematography between the years 1900 and 1950. The photographs were animated, and since the dawn of recorded history, truly new time-based art was created. The cinema affected not only the way people saw the world, but also the way they framed and understood stories.
The third wave of the television refers to the evolution of TV from 1950 to 2000. This is the era, where the television comes to the houses. If cinema is considered to be urban and modern, then television is post-modern and suburban medium. The televisions then were made of the cathode ray tube, unlike today’s LCDs; this started to be used in the year 1931 on televisions, which were still considered to be a luxury.
Radio was in the general use for the ship-to-shore communication by the year 1910. Although sound was transmitted through wires, it is not until 1906 that the audio tube was invented, which allowed for sound to be sent through the air. However, during the World War I radio was restricted, and it is not until 1919 that broadcasting took off and a daily schedule of programs started. By 1926, commercial radio was highly established and networks got to the national level. By the mid 30s, the economy of broadcasting was good and programs had developed into diverse niches and genres: comedies, sport, and news among others. By the start of the World War II, radio was massively accepted in homes and was a very profitable enterprise. This caused it to be given wartime restrictions.
It is at about this time that radio got a major competitor, the television. In the year 1946, only 0.5% of the American population owned a TV set in their home, as compared to the 40 million radios spread across America. This changed to 90% in the year 1962. Today’s television style cannot point to one specific thing, as an explanation of what it is; rather, it can be attributed as a result of economics, technology, and aesthetics. Significant shift from sequence as programming to sequence as flow has been noted over the years.
The media has a very strong hold on our social lives, no matter how much we might ignore that fact. The influence that media has on our social lives is not of the conventional type. The type of socialization offered by the media is not the interactive kind.
The most common and typical influential media is television. Although TV gives a child an impression that they are interacting with a person on the screen, the fact remains that they are not. This can be a disadvantage, since it does not help a child to develop his/her social skills; on the contrary, it might serve to destroy a child’s social life. The average kid spends three to four hours watching television; this time that could be spent playing with other kids and learning, things that could help to establish effective interactions with other people.
However, it is not all bad, when a child watches television; he/she can learn the common things that might be hard to teach in class. A child who watches Friends, the comedy, will know how friends treat each other and how they relate, things they do to each other and those that they do not. Although subconsciously absorbed, it will show up later, when the young children will relate to their friends (Benschop, 2009).
A child can also get certain information about doctors and nurses, what they do, and how they relate to each other from a medicine based TV show. They will also learn about such institutions of the society like hospitals, and which purpose they serve.
The TV series, X-files, is an example of what television has inherited from modernism. It is a show that focuses on the republicans, and the way American’s popular consciousness has to spend sleepless nights on racism, imperialism, war, and genocide. This caused the show to be the center of popular culture, which it was able to describe in much of the nineties. Scully’s character presented feminism strongly; this molded a very conservative culture and pushed it to the margins (Hardy, 2002).
We live in the post- modern time; however, culture is viewed as the reality itself, not the art mirroring life as it was before. Television is changed in these times, and a lot of experimenting is engaged; it contains bricolage and mixes up the narrative traditions. It also employs the use of surreal things with the real ones; for example, humans and machines/robots.
Television does not play a very admirable role in molding unimodernism. Series, like The Walking Dead, display the world as a destroyed place. The future is supposedly full of burning buildings, hungry zombies, and starvation to the point of eating wild animals. The series, however, do not offer the ways of making the future a valuable partner. This means that we are faithful consumers of culture, art, and technology, but we give nothing important in return. This is a lack of balance that will sooner or later create cultural diabetes. The computer is the biggest promoter of this kind of culture, since it is a perfect mix between the TV, radio, and telephone. With this machine, libraries will be forgotten and reinvention will be the order of the day (Benschop, 2009).The computer’s incorporation into all the aspects of the popular culture makes it the 21st century culture machine. Photography, literature, film, and even socializing in the current days are all conjoined into the computer. The situation is made worse by the constant addition and editing of information for the worldwide cultural database. A networked computer is wonderful in that it allows you to produce, distribute, receive, and communicate in an effective manner. This encourages passive consumption, which, in turn, promotes laziness among other things. Majority of the population is on the download mode with less people uploading/producing, this strips the people of a defining constituent of humanity (Hardy, 2002). This pyramid of production has, however, been like so for ages, television – a popular medium – is defined by downloading. Effective uploads, on the other hand, are creations and experiences that others should adhere to. Applications like tumblr.com allow people to share their pictures or experiences with a potential of creating stickiness. According to Lunenfield, we should be determined to change from the television, conditioned downloading into an uploading culture; he states that this should be easy, as we already have the necessary resources to make it happen. He also thinks, agreeably, that it is what will determine our future.
Broadcast media includes various subtypes such as radio, film, recorded music, and television. These transmit information electronically. Digital media, on the other hand, is made up of the internet and mobile types of mass communication. These two are not one in the same thing, but they do, however, have their differences and similarities. The similarities involved include the fact that they both transmit similar media types and do it electronically. However, there are also certain differences in the two media types; digital media deals with info that can be stored for later use. For example, if you are a student, who cannot make it to class on a day that a guest speaker is lecturing, you can depend on your friend to get it all on tape and avail it for you to see later. However, it can be a tad bit difficult to record a certain song playing on the radio. Digital media also allows content to be multiplied, unlike the broadcast media. Digital media has no physical boundaries to bar anyone from producing; broadcast media only allows for one producer, who is specific (Benschop, 2009).
The Sopranos, a gangster TV series, use impressive cinematic artistry, which should be understood in a different light. The actors use illusions, as most of them have appeared on other gangster movies using the roles they had there on the TV series. Also some of the happenings in the series coincide with other ones from the famous movies. For example, when Christopher Multisanti kills a member of an eastern crime mob, the camera cuts to close-ups of actors associated with important film gangsters, who are often linked to the real world organized crime.
It is clear that the media’s role in this day and age is of a great relevance to our culture and social life. Television being the biggest of the influencers, followed by the computer, we will devoted a special attention to.
The television is categorized as broadcast media, while the computer is categorized as digital media. While these two are very different, they possess some factors, which make them similar in certain ways. The two media are both made up of institutional and technical methods of production. They are also all aimed at information distribution, when their producers come up with the products: videos, podcasts, films, or blogs; their main aim is to pass a message to the masses. However, the two media are transmitted in an entirely different manner. Digital media is static and any person can access the info at any given date, even years after the production date, while broadcast media can only be accessed in real time. If you are a Joel Osteen fan and he produces a podcast on Friday the thirteenth, a day which you cannot access it, you can log onto his website on the eighteenth and still access it effortlessly. If, on the other hand, you wanted to see the Lakers playing Miami Heat on ESPN but, unfortunately, couldn’t on the said date, it would be difficult to watch it on another day in the same station (Dienst, 1995).
Apart from socialization, televisuality has established aesthetics. Aesthetics is not only concerned by how the story is told, but by the quality image that is presented. Television is not only assessed by how stories are told in pictures but by their image quality. This has added to the discussion of light, color, space, and lines the additional length of sound editing and sound effects (Cubitt, 1998). Television has pushed the discussion in another route by including the serial quality, which enables the postponement of narrative’s closures for an almost indefinite amount of time. Guiding Light is a classical example, as it holds the record of 68 years, 53 of those on TV. Without a doubt, the serializing capability of television combines with the discussion of TVs image quality and visual plus aural, which further edits the possible discussions on the aesthetics of narrative detours and of picaresque and multi-episodic narratives.
Television has influenced our today lives a lot and on very many different aspects. These include aesthetics, politics, military adventures, and even wars. Television aesthetics has changed throughout time by borrowing techniques from films and videos, which have always been ahead. Additions of other visual aids, which help in absorption of information like charts, animations, and graphs, have been embraced largely. Powers of Ten, a short film by Charles and Ray Eame, embraces this type of mixing in its production. It combined a first person point of view, intertwined with didactic narrations and graphics, which are informative; this has created a complete job, which has achieved what it was set out to (Dienst, 1995).
The media has also influenced politics in a major way in this world of unfolding occurrences and current events. John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of America, was one of the first people, who realized the potential television had towards politics. He encouraged its use to educate the mass public through such programs like presidential debates. The world picked on that and through programs like Sound Bites influenced the public mass’s perspective in politics. In the recent years, however, the media has created a negative image of politics. This has proved to be influential, since there has been a decline in voting. The media has provided digital platforms, which can and have changed the perception, opinions, values, and outcomes of the cultural sphere. Use of aesthetics was also embraced by the showing of graphs, charts, and diagrams to help with the presentation of information to the public. A program like The X-Files played a large part in activism politics, as it influenced for change from the then conservative way of life. The themes of the series, which included feminism, changed the perspective of the common American woman and slowly but gradually pushed towards implementation of the agenda (Cubitt, 1998).
The media has also had the capacity to cover the American military operations in real time and inform the operations to the public. After the 1991 Gulf War, the Balkan conflicts and Somalia, there have been questions about the possible influence of news on the strategies used by the military. George Washington University’s assessor, Steven Livingston, refers to it as the CNN effect, and hypothesizes that the viewing of images on television without a doubt influences the way the events tend to unfold on the politico-military decisions.
In the Gulf War of 1991 the media influenced, albeit indirectly, the decision made during the war. General Colin Powel knew that a war would be televised publicly and the action, deaths, and consequences would be communicated to the ones back home; needless to say, it would be impossible and unsupportable back at home. A general lieutenant was put to watch CNN, a 24hour news station in order to know what was going out publicly. Colin also told the reporters to restrict some of the information they presented upon finding any information, as a precautionary measure for the troops (Dienst, 1995).
However, as many restrictions as the military tried to put up, the reporters did everything they could to get a story for the front page. However, with the reporter’s agilities and the coverage by the Baghdad news agencies, the war was televised. This influenced a couple of decisions, one of them being a change of tactic by the American military after a live report was done by a reporter on the artillery duel between the 82nd airborne division and the Iraqi troops. This ensured the Iraqi intelligence could be able to communicate with the artillery units and locate the 82nd Airborne division; thus, be in a position to act in their favor. The news reporting would also destroy the element of surprise that America had on the Iraqis.