New Media: A Risky Business

The first thing I have to say about Deuze’s work is, it’s a “doozy”. 242 pages!? However, as college students, “not working” (or reading) “is abnormal” (Deuze 1). And as Film and New Media Studies majors, I agree that “the risk of finding a job has become a strictly individual risk” “marked by uncertainty” (1).

Everyone without a job, especially young people, lives in fear of how they will get a job, if they even can get a job, and how they will keep that job…if they ever get one. More people now move around the country, and each time they move start a new job. Deuze writes that these peoples’ lives are comfortable, but never completely secure, and certainly the opposite of the stereotypical, ‘white picket fence, fifty years in the fire department’ life. The boundaries between personal and professional life are also blurring, since many jobs have individual freedom in choosing hours, and working from home.

With the rising presence of technology and digital media, more jobs are being created which surround media and technology. This is both a positive and negative development for those of us trying to enter the workforce. More jobs are being created, but more people are snatching up those jobs, so because there are so many people taking these jobs, there are more people against whom to compete and fewer spots for us.

One quote from Deuze that I thought was particularly relevant to new media was: “In a network society each and every one of us is connected with everyone else through dense networks of strong or loose but generally temporary affiliations, and such networks are enabled and amplified by new media like internet” (17). Collaboration and coordination are particularly important in the real world, and even if you don’t know someone in Hollywood, for example, you probably know someone who knows someone, and that may work out in your favor.

Deuze also emphasizes the importance of communication by saying that “The most successful businesses on the internet – such as auction site eBay, internet portal Yahoo, Google, and Amazon – share one fundamental characteristic: the product these companies deliver is connectivity, bringing people together to trade, communicate, interact, and exchange knowledge, information, goods, and services” (35).

Amazon and eBay are fairly user-run websites, especially the user reviews of the things for sale. Many people look at the user reviews first, to see what other people have communicated about the product. Without the reviews and ratings, buying things online would be a gamble. Deuze goes on to talk about Wikipedia, which is essentially written by volunteers, and can be changed by anyone connected to the internet. The main point of all these companies is that they use collective intelligence and collaboration to enhance the user’s experience.

Deuze mentions what he thinks are the trends that are particular to the professional identity of media work: “The tendency of cultural companies to cluster in specific urban areas, the risky and unpredictable nature of the media business, the complexity of controlling and collaborating with creative individuals in the context of project-based labor and commercial enterprise, and the pervasive nature of technology and information management in all aspects of the creative process” (63).

Looking back at this book, which was written in 2007, so much has changed since then, but this description is still accurate. With new media, the same issues apply, especially the precarious nature of the business. But, if you manage to work your way up through the system, whether it is in journalism, film, television, game design, or anything else, then in the end you will be doing what you love.

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