Tuesday, April 28, 2009

KOM's Brave New Media

The territory once dominated by broadcast TV and print media is being swallowed up by subscription-based narrowcast digital television and the Internet says Knowledge Oasis Muscat’s (KOM) Mulkie Al Hashmi (pictured)and organizer of KOM’s quarterly Digital Nation seminar program.

The changing global media landscape will be the topic of discussion at KOM’s 4 May Digital Nation seminar scheduled to be held at the Grand Hyatt Hotel.

According to research from the European Interactive Advertising Association (EIAA), almost half of 15-24 year olds (46%) are watching less TV, preferring instead to browse the web while 22% are listening to less radio. The EIAA research also reveals the extent to which the youth is using the Internet to communicate with friends, with 58% preferring to chat to friends over the Internet. “The EIAA statistics clearly reveal a new media trend – and that’s away from established print and broadcast channels,” suggests Al Hashmi.

“When you talk about the changing media landscape we should be using words like push and pull,” says Al Hashmi. “The established media is a push medium. In simple terms, that means a select group of producers decide what content is to be created, create it and then print or push it down a pipe to an audience. The Internet on the other hand is a pull medium. Nothing comes to you unless you choose it. You're in charge.”

The assumption of the old broadcast and print media model was that audiences were passive and uncreative but with the spread of Broadband Internet that is changing. “Take blogging for example”, says Al Hashmi - the practice of keeping an online diary - “what the blogging phenomenon tells us is that the traffic in ideas and cultural products isn't a one-way street. People have always been articulate and well-informed, but until now few have broken into print or broadcast. Blogging and the Internet has changed all that and given people the platform they needed. In fact, people on YouTube are reaching larger audiences than established broadcasters like the BBC and CNN.”

Keeping secrets is another interesting change, suggests Al Hashmi. “If one of your products doesn’t work properly then it’s going to pop up on a blog somewhere. Today’s consumers, particularly the youth, are tech savvy and better informed and have the tools at their finger tips to search for information on companies and products. That kind of information doesn’t generally appear in your daily paper or on the local news, does it?”

The other interesting media development has been in the use of digital photography. For example, sites like Flickr.com allow people to upload their pictures and display them on the web. The most interesting aspect being that users can attach tags to their pictures and these tags can be used to search the entire database. “This morning, I searched for photographs tagged with ‘Oman’ and came up with 95,402 images. Ten years ago, those images would’ve ended up in a photo album – today, they’re on the Internet and viewed by millions,” observes the Digital Nation Co-ordinator.

”We’re witnessing a remarkable change – the creation of news is being driven bottom-up rather than top-down and it’s the power and reach of the Internet that’s doing that. I’m confident that the 4 May Digital Nation seminar will touch on all these issues – it should be a great evening,” concludes Al Hashmi.

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