Communications & media Introductory post

Like all creatures human beings react or respond to messages. These messages are signals our brains interpret from intuition or instinct. Steam coming off water sends the message we interpret as warm or hot water. Smoke sends the message that something is hot and close to bursting into flames and of course flames and fire send a message of excess heat. The reaction or response is to avoid what hurts. These are primal instincts. As human beings evolved intellectually, they created more complex forms of messaging and communicating with each other. Spoken language evolved followed by written language. It is interesting to know that visual forms of communication such as cave drawings or paintings go right back to the cradle of human evolution. What these drawings and written languages do for human beings, are communicate messages through printed media.

While the media is how the message is carried, the message is in the content that the media carries, not the media itself. Today when the word media is mentioned, the first thoughts are often television and radio broadcasting, or newspaper journalism. Why? Most likely because television, radio and newspapers are forms of media. Television and radio belong to the “electronic”  media group, while newspapers and magazines, along with books and all printed documents belong to the “print media” group. The media represents the channel by which the message is communicated. The Internet together with applications through a platform called the “web”, have provided yet another media channel—digital. Although part of electronic media, its delivery is so different to that of television and radio broadcasting that it gets its own category of media. So if media (the plural of medium) is the term that defines the channel of delivery of messages, like a conduit carries electricity, what is the product of media?

Digital media product

Digital media product

It might be easy to say messages, but there is another step in between. Books, pictures, written documents, audio records and tapes, video tapes, DVDs and all the other forms of recording and communicating information are media products. A book, or a picture hanging on a wall is a product of printed media. Some media products are not physical in nature, like a live stream broadcast. The initial product here is also the final product—a message, or information. However that live stream can be documented by recording it to some form of storage medium, thus a physical product of electronic media is created. Media products can be created manually, such as writing and drawing on paper, or painting on canvas, or be aided by technology such as cameras, audio recorders, computers and the technology behind producing records, tapes and disks. Electronic media relies on technology, as does most print media products these days. Printers, monitors, printing presses, cinema screenings, photographs… none would be possible without technology. The communications industry is vast and highly integrated into human culture. This journal is about media product, the art and business of creating it, the technology used and the community support for it.