Last week, I attended a panel presentation put on by Chicago’s PRSA (Public Relations Society of America) Young Professionals Network. The panel’s title, “Storytelling through Multimedia Content,” immediately caught my attention. Whether you’re agency or in-house, all public relations and communications professionals share the expectation to deliver fresh and relevant multimedia content to engage consumers in new ways. To get diverse perspective on the matter, PRSA consulted four Chicago professionals: Sarah Gitersonke, executive producer at AKA Media Inc.; Prash Sabharwal, digital manager at Golin; Lisa Trafficanta, vice president at Res Publica Group; and Geoffrey Frankel, senior vice president at Edelman.
I was recently surfing through Amazon and could not stop thinking about how dramatically online capabilities have altered traditional shopping. You no longer have to leave the couch or ask an associate if they have more sizes in the back. You may not bring a friend, but who needs one? Algorithms pull items according to your taste and other shoppers post lengthy reviews that can reaffirm or negate your concerns.
This reminds me again of that Winston Churchill quote used by Sherry Turkle in Alone Together: “We shape buildings and then they shape us.” Computer’s reshaping of culture goes beyond shopping – it creates new consumer expectations for all brands/companies.
Where do we draw the line between old and new media? How does this shift impact media creation and consumption? This week I had the pleasure of trudging through some fairly technical excerpts that explore these questions and more.
First, Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media distills blockbuster movies, glossy magazines and multimedia websites into algorithms. This reduction to numerical data references how we transitioned from printing press to Wikipedia. To pinpoint the shift from old to new, Manovich leads with a detailed but separate history of media (e.g., radio, print, film, etc.) and computer.
“We shape our building and then they shape us.” Sherry Turkle closes the intro to her book Alone Together with this Winston Churchill quote asking that consumers think about the impacts of technology and whether it serves “our human purposes” (19). With this approach in mind, let’s consider how technology reshapes our interactions.
What is the preferred medium for communication? Turkle spotlights the proliferation of emails as well as text and instant messages, and even uses the phrase “avoid the voice” (206) to address the decline in face-to-face and phone conversations. Before pointing at Gen Y speed texters, understand that the screen communication trend transcends generations. It also applies to interactions with family, friends, coworkers and customers.