What Does Digital Media Allow Us to “Do” to One Another?: Economic Significance of Content and Connection

What Does Digital Media Allow Us to “Do” to One Another?: Economic Significance of Content and Connection

Donna E. Alvermann (University of Georgia, USA), Crystal L. Beach (University of Georgia, USA) and George L. Boggs (Florida State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2016 |Pages: 23
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8310-5.ch001
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

The purpose of this integrative review of theory and research is to assess the economic impact of digital media in ways that are unreached by instrumental means of measuring economic activity. Specifically, we use three overarching arguments identified from a review of the literature that broadly defines the economic force of digital media content in contemporary society. We contextualize those arguments in terms of current issues in the field and gaps in the research base before concluding with a discussion of the implications of what we learned for education, civic engagement, social practice, and policy.
Chapter Preview
Top

Succinct Overview Of The Research

We begin with an integrative review of theory and research on the role of digital media in contemporary society’s global economy. Definitions of digital media, contemporary society, and global economy are best formulated as systems within systems. For example, in Nick Couldry’s (2012)Media, Society, World: Social Theory and Digital Practice, he lays the foundation for a new sociology of digital media as a means of dealing with the complexities of living in a 21st century media-saturated world that extends beyond the social to include the economics of production and consumption. Amid unceasing calls for education, policy, social practice, and civic engagement to “keep up” with digital media, Couldry asks a moral question that holds a key, we argue, to understanding the nested economic impact of systems within systems. What does digital media allow us to “do” to one another?

The term digital media defies attempts to reach consensus on its meaning. We review literature on the construction of digital media as content (print and nonprint) that has been digitized and thus potentially ready for dissemination on the Internet. We echo the insistence from various fields of research on digital media that digital media content is a kind of tip of the iceberg for the ways digital media is reorganizing and managing our actual and metaphorical households and villages. Starting with content serves as a starting point for discussing digital media’s broader impact on our lives in the broad sense that Couldry intends.

Below, we pursue three arguments we identified from a review of the literature that broadly define the economic force of digital media content in contemporary society. We then contextualize the arguments about digital media content in terms of relevant social, political, and economic factors that mediate the production of digital content. This approach makes it possible to assess economic impact of digital media in ways that are unreached by instrumental means of measuring economic activity (e.g., Boggs, this volume; Chambers, 2013). We seek to capture the essence of how digital media affects the “management of the household or village” (Author C’s interpretation of etymology of Greek oikonomia).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Actant: A term used to denote an entity whether human or nonhuman that modifies the actions of another entity (e.g., pouring vinegar on baking soda).

Transformativeness: The state of having been repurposed by a user of copyrighted materials to make them more amenable to fair use criteria.

New Materialists: 21 st century scholars who claim that agency is not strictly a human capacity.

Digital Media: A term given to the tools for communicating that involve conversion into machine-readable formats within human networks.

Economy: Production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services by agents, at times involving intermediaries for exchange known as money.

Memes: Phrases, images, videos, sound effects, songs, etc. that are copied and spread rapidly by Internet users—typically without regard for whether the message or intended meaning is clear or not.

Mode: A resource through which people communicate that are socially and culturally determined.

Multimodality: Refers to multiple forms of communication that include language but do not privilege it over other modes such as still and moving images, sounds, gestures, icons, and performances.

Agency: A human’s capacity to make choices; typically contrasted to natural forces or nonhuman elements.

Modality: The vehicle/way in which meaning is made through text, speech, or gestures.

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset