I’ll admit that a week ago, I’d never come across the term “Media Studies 2.0”. I did “Media Studies” in HSC (ahem… yep, HSC) way back in 1987, and it was a very different beast. Even that subject avoided discussion of media structure, and instead we focussed on a single aspect – media ownership in Australia. I even remember Keith Windschuttle’s The Media being the prescribed (and only) text. And I wrote my year’s assessment in one night; but that’s another tale.
So, first up: Media Studies 2.0, what is this beast? Merrin presents it as an emergent discipline, something which is – or at least should – be moving as fast as the media it is attempting to analyse. Gauntlett provides a characterisation of both 2.0, and 1.0 – and I’m grateful for the comparative information – but in summary says that 2.0 has changed those previously relegated to “audience” into “participants”.
Both argue that rather than being passive consumers of media – an audience “fed” what broadcasters produced – 2.0 has created producers who are also consumers, where once there were only critics. Gauntlett in particular points out that the approaches of 2.0 mean that as “capable producers” students can gain a stronger understanding of the media they would previously only have studied theoretically.
Merrin also points out that modern media – Media 2.0 – has changed so radically that in a lot of cases students outpace their teachers in their knowledge. I’m not yet in that sphere; but I did appreciate enormously Merrin’s blog post where he uses a wonderful analogy to illustrate the speed of change in media in recent years; it tickled me as it informed – I hope it does the same for you:
The result is, for all of us, it’s a struggle even to keep up. Not many disciplines have this problem. I’m fairly certain chemistry lecturers don’t have to turn up to the second half of a lecture and announce that things have just changed: that the bad news is they’ve just found three new elements but the good news is they’ve dropped argon as no-one was using it anymore. Merrin 2006.
Poor argon. Gone the way of MySpace. And as I read, I wondered if “Media Studies” – Media Studies 1.0 – would suffer a similar fate. In the introduction to Merrin’s 2014 book Media Studies 2.0 he captures a line of thought which resulted in me wondering if Media Studies 1.0 – the teaching of the broadcast era structure and theories of the media – is likely close to being shifted in emphasis to that of a historical adjunct; assigned single weekly topic in a unit, or even moved to the modern history department of teaching institutions. Which would be ironic, given that Gauntlett’s summary of “new media” – Media 2.0 – in Media Studies 1.0 is that it was taught as an addon. An approach I summarised as ‘oh yeah, there’s this thing called the internet. It’s gonna be big. Now, back to how radio audiences work’.
Media Studies 2.0 isn’t however, just the study of technologies. It can’t be – it would be a tafe course, or limited to vocational studies (or YouTube instructionals) if it were. Merrin’s acknowledgement that sociology and cultural studies have a part to play widens the field somewhat. We have an enormous number of tools available to us in the new media landscape, but studying those only, without consideration of the wider effects on people, or even civilisation itself would be a folly. Media has changed, and so has the world that uses it. Chicken, or the egg? That’s going to be the most fun thing to work out – which came first.
But then again, I have yet to come to grips with the Media 2.0 landscape technologically; so that’s why I’m here – start there, and work my way up to making descisions about the influential potentials of Media Studies 2.0. Onwards!