There are now two worlds where people dwell in modern reality. The first is the physical world where people live in, and the second is the world beyond what is physical, governed by bits and infinite data flowing from interconnected lines, known as the new world, the virtual world. Since the domination of the World Wide Web, the function of media is not only limited to the horizontal transmission of data.
The function of media, at present, shifts to connecting people rather than to just inform, creating a kind of dependence between them and information. The degree of consumption of media and the human behavioral response that comes with it makes the internet an indispensable piece of technology in contemporary times.
In 1989, Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web for the sole purpose of exchanging data through the connection of several computers through the internet. When it was made available to the public in 1993, the web has changed the world in a massive scale and it has become the most powerful communication medium that man has ever known. (History of the Web – Web Foundation)
From then on, there is an urgency to distribute information using several types of media like text, audio, graphics, animation, and video utilizing the internet.
Now, the multiple uses of media and the interaction of people to new technological advancements have opened several issues concerning the aspects of interactivity, hypertext and hypermedia, and social media.
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies Broadcast Group Leader, Al Tompkins, explains why a simple story of Mark Bowden about the 18 American soldiers who died in the 1993 battle of Somalia caught the interest of world and has become a book which then led to the production of the movie “Blackhawk Down.” Bowden’s articles were published online that were linked to videos, audios, and photographs as supplements to the story. The hyperlinks paved the way for web “chats” where he had to answer questions related to what he wrote.
Tompkins emphasized in his lectures that “interactivity is the future of the news.” Through the modern means of delivering news across a myriad of platforms, it would entail a process of interactivity giving way into a transparency of data, letting the users or readers engage in a dialogue with the writer and himself. (Belmont University News and Media)
Everything in the web that becomes a topic of interest will spread rapidly when there is visible interaction between readers and the author. People will become participants in the creation of the news, enabling a two-way exchange of ideas, rather than just a recipient of the information.
During the meeting of the International Communication Association in California, the Interactivity Paradox was presented which highlights “… online news operations are evidently leaving users who engage with interactive content somewhat confused. Disorientation in hypermedia environments is discussed not merely a nuisance problem but as a serious issue affecting cognitive access to content online.” (Bucy, 2003) Even if interactivity plays an important role in modern media, despite enabling participation, there are still existing contradictions.
Michael Jackel explores interactivity from the concept of interaction where he mentioned that the meaning of the concept “interaction” depends on the context in which it is used. He further suggested that there are multi-discursive concepts that vary in meanings and connotations according to their use within different discourses. (Jensen, 1998)
There has been so many definitions of interactivity and it varies depending on various aspects. Jens F. Jensen discusses four patterns of communication which are transmission, conversation, consultation, and registration.
Transmission occurs when the information is produced and owned by a central information provider and it also controls the distribution of information. It is usually a one-way communication model. Classic examples of transmission are radio, TV, radio, and live broadcasts.
Conversation, on the other hand is where information is produced and owned by the information consumers who control distribution. It is a traditional two-way communication where consumer activity is the production of messages and delivery of input in a dialogue (e-mail, mailing lists, newsgroups).
Consultation is where information is produced and owned by the provider but the consumer retains control over what information is distributed. Only specific information is delivered upon active selection. An example of which is FTP.
Lastly, registration is information produced by the consumer but processed and controlled by the information providing center (surveillance, registration systems). The center collects information from the user. (Jensen, 1998)
WEB 2.0 AND WEB 3.0
When it surfaced in 2002, the Web 2.0 allowed its users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue, becoming authors of User Generated Content in a community that exists virtually. Web 2.0 refers to the time when the use of technology went beyond static pages of earlier websites when it came out. It was the dawn of dynamic content, metadata, web standards and scalability.
Tim Berners-Lee visualizes that the web should be a collaborative medium where people could meet, read, and write. In Web 2.0, users do more than just retrieve information. They interact.
Among the key features of the Web 2.0 are Folksonomy, which is a term that allows users to organize and classify information with the use of tags; Rich User Experience, where dynamic content reacts to the input of the user; User Participation, where people could comment, review, and evaluate online; Long Tail, where audiences could subscribe to monthly feeds for a fee; Software as a Service, where APIs are used to automate usage of an application; and Mass Participation, where everyone could access the web.
During the early beginnings of the web, texts and links were the only foundations that opened endless possibilities of the internet today. Hypertexts were simply texts which has links to other related texts where navigation is made through a non-linear manner. The links connect information by association. People can store and retrieve information by referential links for access. Ted Nelson’s book “Literary Machines” released in 1987 shows his vision of a distributed document system that anticipated the World Wide Web.
Now, hypermedia is being constantly used in the web, a hypertext which is not constrained to be text, it comes in the form of video, graphics, or audio.
The Semantic Web, known also as Web 3.0, emerged recently where it focuses on data that can be processed by machines. Its goal is to make the web organized by structuring documents into a web of date that is hyperlinked to human-readable web pages by inserting machine-readable metadata about pages and how they relate to one another.
Web 3.0 enable users to find, share, and combine information more easily because it enables machines to understand and respond to complex human requests. Since machines could not accomplish tasks without human direction, web pages should be designed to be read by people and not by machines – a major premise of the Semantic Web.
With the full blown interactive participation of users in the virtual world, social media existed serving as computer-mediated tools that allow people to create content, share, exchange information and ideas through words, pictures, videos, and sound in virtual networks or communities.
Social media is a way where people connect with people online which has brought about memes like blogs, share, google, fb, tweets and many more. As the internet becomes more developed and continues to be more interactive and dynamic, the dissemination of public and private information will be geared towards mobile accessibility and connectivity.
The more that people understand interactivity in the modern world, designing multimedia materials would be a challenge in identifying target audiences. With the help of the fast growing interaction of people in the web, information dissemination will be easier and faster. This is where knowing how to see will play a pivotal role in its application through multimedia and the world in a dot.
(Published: February 5, 2015)