Vision Post – The Future of Media?

Losa Meru

06 May 2016

There’s a black and white photo circulating around the internet that shows a bunch of old men and women sitting on a bus with newspapers in their face. Next to this photo is a more recent photo of men and women sitting on a bus with phones in their faces.

Naysayers of emerging technology like to say that we don’t know how to communicate with each other anymore. I disagree with this; we are constantly learning new ways of communicating and learning how to cope with these new ways of functioning. About 100 years ago, filmmaking didn’t exist as a medium. Now it does, and now we have so many ways to utilize it. There are naysayers of 360 video and virtual reality, but we are only in the beginning stages. There is so much more to learn.

As communication gets easier and easier, I believe the responsibility of content creators and artists becomes greater and greater. Learning how to tell people things in a way that moves them is the entire reason I applied to this school and why I chose the major of Television-Radio-Film. I was more enamored with the idea of getting a point across and how that point gets across than the beautiful art of filmmaking. I’ve learned to love filmmaking along the way, but my initial interest has always been in connecting people to ideas or emotions. My interests and passions lie with traditional filmmaking (for now) but as technology changes, so must my technical knowledge and ability if I want to keep up. Who knows what I’ll fall in love with next?

As a communicator, it makes sense that I’d want to keep up with technology so I can continue to communicate effectively. However, this is not the case for those who aren’t interested in getting across information to the masses. No matter what, people will continue to consume media—and the manner by which it is sold, watched, or digested will change, but people have been consuming media ever since town criers existed because the desire to consume information and to be entertained is universal.

Media is already becoming what it is—more personalized, more relative and tailored to each individual. Technologies emerge out of ingenuity and necessity and then are honed into something that can be used for all. For example, the radio was originally used as a tool for the military to communicate with each other from far distances. Then, it was used to communicate news, and now, it is used to communicate breaking news, entertaining shows, and music.

I’m speaking a lot of cyclical nonsense about the history of communication and storytelling but the truth is that I think nothing will change. How can I possibly begin to analyze what doesn’t exist yet? I think we will continue the same route we are going: there will be fun information full of nonsense and randomness (reddit.com, anyone?), there will be official forms of communication through technology such as voting and participating in government, there will be practical uses such as delivering supplies via drones to secluded locations, and there will be a lot of misuses and repercussions for everything that exists. Repercussions already exist for the way we consume media today—strained eyes, bad posture, short attention span, and mediocre in-person communication skills. The challenge will be how to balance having constant access to information while realizing that as human beings we still have to learn about information by actually living our lives away from the screens.

I’m excited to see where immersive technology goes. This class introduced me to Chris Milk, the visual and experimental media artist who has created both traditional films (music videos) and interactive installations that make people think. This interactive technology can be harnessed in so many ways to encourage people to empathize with different types of people and different types of situations. We can understand what is going on inside each of our heads and therefore learn how to help each other and work with each other.

I have faith in humanity that we’ll be able to harness media for the right reasons. As long as classes like these are continually offered and there are people willing to learn about how to utilize these types of technologies in a creative and helpful way, I think anything is possible.

What is a major concern, however, is the amount of privacy we can control in our lives. Is it better to sometimes have less information for the sake of privacy and respect for each other? Or is acquiring information more important (in this case, the government secretly acquiring information about minute details from our lives in order to keep us safe?) This is where I think the lines get fuzzy. There will always be people who want to push the boundaries and there will always be people who trust others and people who don’t. It all depends on who is in power and how the people react to those in power.

Media has been and will always be a tool for society. My vision for the future is that it will not really change much. The real question is how we, as humanity, will collectively agree on how we handle all this information and all this media, because it can affect the entire world so profoundly.