We’ve talked quite a bit about the various parts that make up “new media”. From podcasting, to its video counterpart: the vlog, to the most traditional looking: the blog. Taken individually, these seem like small stones throne into the pond of “content” that organizations can offer. And since the first two seem so new, it’s easy to see them as toys children play with while the adults consume more serious media in more conventional ways. And just a few short years ago, you could have made the argument that this was, is, and ever will be the case. Even as recently as last year, it was still muddy how new media would play in established realms. This year has flipped that question on its head.
What the modern association should be asking is: how does it fit in to the realms of new media. New media has eaten away at its established forbears in the same way CD’s ate away at the cassette, and the MP3 swallowed them both. With the victory of digital distribution of music, it didn’t just change the format, it changed the music landscape as a whole. When music was still sold on a physical medium, there was a greater emphasis on the album as a whole, since it was more difficult for songs to be split up into singular servings. Now that we have the option to just by our favorite songs from a given album, the idea of producing a whole, unified album has been challenged, and largely tossed to the wind. They’re still made, but they’re not the same.
This is the mindset the modern association must adapt moving forward. New media has changed the landscape. It is now dominate. The pieces of new media no longer need to fit the mold of what old media (print, network television, etc.); media going forward is taking the shape of its new container. The first sea-change, as mentioned above, was with the music industry. But now, we’ve seen the shift in television as well. Shows created for outlets like Netflix don’t bend to the weekly consumption model of old; now entire seasons are meant to be binged in a few nights. Entertainment isn’t the only area that’s affected here, either.
The entire print industry is being turned on its head. While the novel has managed to be an outlire, and paperback books are still king there, magazines and newspapers are quickly disappearing in favor of online sources. And like water, the form they make depends on the vessel in which it rests. Associations are trying to deliver the same thing they delivered pre-internet, just digitally. This won’t work. In order for the modern association to survive and thrive, they will need to make the same paradigm shift as the music and television industries before them have. The content they offer will have to be made to fit the mold of new media. It’s a brave new world out there, but one with the promise of life in its breath.