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Media

Reviewed by Justin StoltzfusCheckmark | Last updated: December 23, 2020

What Does Media Mean?

Media is the plural form of medium, which (broadly speaking) describes any channel of communication. This can include anything from printed paper to digital data, and encompasses art, news, educational content and numerous other forms of information. Anything that can reach or influence people, including phones, television, and the Internet can be considered a form of media.

In the context of informatics, media means both the devices used to store data (hard drives, CD-ROMs, diskettes, etc.) as well the ones used to transmit it (cables, wires), or even propagate it in its many forms (videos, sounds, podcasts, etc.). In modern times, media are gravitating more and more towards the digital side of this field.

Modern digital media include all forms of communication that are transmitted electronically across the world through computer networks and fiber optic cables. Some of these modern forms of media, such as the Internet or social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) have completely revolutionized our world.

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Techopedia Explains Media

The history of media is often (somewhat jokingly, but also seriously) seen as a tautology. Recorded history itself requires some form of media on which it can be stored and passed along through time. The innovation of printing press technology culminated in many different shifts in Western culture, from the intellectual realm to the legal space and beyond.

Twentieth century digital technology gave rise to digital media, which in turn facilitated the creation of the internet. Academic research, in addition to American military support, led to the development of ARPANET, in which the decentralization of data and packet-switching technology foreshadowed the rise of the internet, and thus framed the modern digital media landscape.

There are several forms of media available today, although some have fallen into obsolescence already:

  • Traditional media includes newspapers, journals, radio, television, magazines, and even billboards. Traditional media is broadly divided into two subcategories: print media and broadcast media.

  • Print media is the oldest form of media and includes all types of printed paper publications, such as newspapers, magazines, books, reports, clinical journals, leaflets, essays etc.

  • Broadcast Media was introduced at the beginning of the 20th century in the form of radio and (later) television. As the introduction of TV downsized the importance of radio as a means for people to access information in the form of news, broadcast TV is now starting to fall behind as online media sources take over.

  • Digital media, which makes up an increasingly vast portion of modern communications, is comprised of intricately encoded signals that are transmitted over various forms of physical and virtual media, such as fiberoptic cable and computer networks. Modern digital media include the Internet as a whole, but on a more granular level, “media” is used to indicate websites, blogs, podcasts, videos, digital radio stations, and mobile phones, as well as the communication methods used to transmit data such as instant messaging, video calls, and emails.

  • Computer media is a term that is often used in informatics with several different meanings. It is used to describe the electronic devices used to store data, such as hard drives, USB drives, DVDs, CD-ROM, and floppy disks. It also refers to the transmission media (cables) used to link workstations together such as coaxial cables, fiber optic cables, and traditional electrical wires (twisted-pair wires). More broadly, all technologies used to communicate information such as videos, pictures, sounds, and presentations are often referred to as media or multimedia (if they combine different types of media).

  • Mass media include all of those media channels which can reach a large number of people at the same time. Traditional mass media include TV and radio channels, as well as national and international magazines, while digital mass media mostly refers to social media platforms and popular online magazines. Some find it reasonable to include some video games such as massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPGs).

  • Social Media have been mentioned already, as these platforms are included in both the mass media and digital media categories. They consist of applications and websites used by people to share content in real-time, using their computers or smartphones. They represent a revolutionary technology that influenced the last decade by allowing everyone to share virtually any kind of information at the global level

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