The Winter 2001 issue of Convergence (vol. 7, no. 4) will be devoted to the theme of a historical approach to understanding the future adoption and diffusion of new media technologies.
"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." Reason in Common Sense (New York: Scribner's, 1905), p. 218. -- George Santayana, 1863-1952
* History of the Future of New Media
The study of new media as a specialization within mass communication began to take root with the advent of satellite distribution of television signals and the resultant explosion in new video channels. Established models of mass communication included the broadcast’ of messages from a media source (whether print or electronic) to a generally heterogeneous audience with limited (if any)
direct feedback from that audience. The infusion of computer-mediated communication, interactive systems that connected receiver to sender, and the emergence of the World-Wide Web have challenged the traditional view of mass communication. Other point-to-point’ communication technologies such as fax
machines, cellular telephones and pages have also had a dramatic impact on people's daily lives.
* Understanding New Media From an Historical Perspective
Anyone predicting the media landscape in 1960 from the vantage point of 1955 would have had relatively little difficulty in making accurate forecasts. The same cannot be said for a forecaster in the year 2000 looking 5 years down the road. While new media become the focus of scholarly investigation generally after the medium is well established, not all new media survive in the marketplace. Examples include CBS's Field Sequential Color Television System (rejected by the FCC but taken to the moon by the Apollo missions), AT&T's
PicturePhone, over-the-air subscription television, analog DBS, Qube interactive cable television, quadraphonic sound, CB radio, teletext,
videotex, RCA’s CED videodisc player and AM stereo. What were proponents (direct advocates for the technologies), competitive critics (those who wished to protect an alternative technology), and objective observers (those with no apparent stake in the adoption and diffusion of the technology) saying about these new media? Original case study manuscripts of one or more of these technologies are especially encouraged.
* Theories of New Media Adoption and Diffusion
Are there any inevitabilities in the adoption and diffusion of new
media? Were radio and television destined for mass adoption? Was
it predictable that the World-Wide Web in the United States would
quickly become a new medium dominated by commercially
sponsored content? Would changes in political (including regulatory
and policy concerns), economic, or technological factors have altered
the course of media development? Based on what we know about
how new media have evolved in the past, can we create theoretical
constructs from which we can better understand the future of new
* New Media Visionaries
Finally, some visionaries seem to be able to see the future of media
technologies. One of the most commonly cited visionaries of the
hypertext age has been Vanevar Bush, Harry Truman’s Director of the
Office of Scientific Research and Development. (Arthur C. Clark,
J.C.R. Licklider, Nicholas Negroponte and Daniel Bell are more
authors who may be considered visionaries for new communication
technologies and their social impact.) What other historical examples
exist of insightful visions of the future of communication technology
exist? What can we learn from these visions and the visionaries?
Submissions are welcomed relating to the history of the future of new
media technologies and services (e.g., Carolyn Marvin, 1988, Ithiel de
Sola Pool, 1983) from theoretical, historical, economic, and policy
perspectives as well as retrospective technology assessment.
Original works that analyze the actual writings of the future of
existing or previous communication technologies are sought.
Copy deadline for refereed research articles: 30 April 2001.
All proposals, inquiries and submissions for this special issue to Dr. Bruce C. Klopfenstein (address below).
Dr. Bruce C. Klopfenstein
Director, Dowden Center for New Media Studies
University of Georgia
Athens, GA 30602-3018
alternate e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Email: email@example.com. Visit the website at http://www.luton.ac.uk/Convergence
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