Using print and digital media

Media can be created and consumed in both digital and physical forms - each of these forms have different characteristics that make them suitable for different needs. This resource will explore these characteristics, and prompt you to consider what kind of media is appropriate for your particular needs

Print and digital media. What's the difference?

The digital transformation changed the publishing industry forever. The rise of the "new media" over "traditional" media was swift. Primarily, this was due to the rise of fast, online mobile technologies. Despite its decline, technology won't kill print media while people still enjoy using print materials.

Print media

Also known as analogue or physical media encompasses a wide range of mediums including books, newspapers, CDs/DVDs, television and radio.

Common features and limitations of print media include:

  • consumed and shared in physical form only. For example, a print book, television or radio.
  • available via some form of "gatekeeper". Quality control is often better, but generally governed by rules and restrictions. For example, a book publisher or a radio/television station.
  • interactivity is usually not available (beyond the controls of the media device such as a CD/DVD player).
  • not hypertextual - unable to link to additional content. For example, checking the meaning of a word encountered on the page of a book.

Digital media

Once described as the "new media", the rapid rise of digital media has beset our consciousness and can no longer be thought of as "new".

Common features and limitations of digital media include:

  • shared content via hyperlinks, allowing multiple user access. For example, website content, digital journal articles.
  • creatable and shareable content without the need of a "gatekeeper". However, quality is variable and generally less restricted. For example, videos on YouTube, blogs and ebooks.
  • usually hypertextual - links connect the user to a variety of available resources. For example, mobile apps and ebook readers with dictionary and thesaurus options.
  • often requires access to the Internet.
  • content may not be permanent. For example, websites, podcasts and videos can be removed at any time.
  • the content may not be owned by the user. For example, subscription-based streaming services like Netflix and Spotify provide common access to a wide range of content, without actually owning it.

Why does all this matter?

With the rise of digital media's domination, we no longer simply consume content. We are now contributors and producers (prosumers), of not only content, but culture as well.

Known as "participatory culture", the once voiceless majority are now empowered to broadcast their ideas, share their creative works and comment on world events on a global scale.

The medium is the message

The medium is the message is a phrase first coined by Marshall McLuhan.

The phrase acknowledges that the medium via which a message is communicated can have unintended consequenced for the message that is being communicated.

Watch this video to gain a better understanding of this concept.

How do I choose the right media for my needs?

When choosing the right media to meet your needs, think about the following factors:

  • Will I have access to the Internet?
  • Do I want to be able to annotate, edit, or interact with the resource?
  • Do I want to be able to access the resource at the same time as someone else?
  • Do I want to be able to share the resource?
  • Do I want to own it?
  • Do I want to be able to create my own resource and share it?
  • Are factors like peer-review or recognised authority important to me?


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