The new media gatekeeping system is complex. Through social media “like” buttons and online links, consumers lean on other consumers they trust for tips on what to look for online. In Knilan’s digestive metaphor, push media are out there as always, even in greater numbers than ever, but they have less and less control. As Knilans says: “The consumer steers.”
The control that people can exert on their media consumption, however, is not entirely theirs. Consider banner ads on websites, or tailored sponsored ads on our Facebook timelines. Through tracking cookies, our Internet surfing habits are used to target ads on a range of our online experiences. Other media sources, such as Hulu.com, allow consumers to select ad types that are meaningful to us (e.g., home products or technology, automobiles or travel). Regardless, consumers may have less control than they may realize when old-style push media push messages their way. In other words, pull media has not displaced push media; rather, push media is now just packaged in a whole new way.
4.2.2 Limitless Archiving 1. Objective: Evaluate the impact of digital storage
The capacity to store digitized data seems infinite. The impact of digitized data storage is most obvious with library collections, which have shrunk in recent years due to digitalization. The online encyclopedia Wikipedia has revolutionized the reference book industry. Online academic databases with membership access to thousands of journal articles and books in HTML and PDF format have rendered paper copies almost completely unnecessary.
The seemingly endless capacity for digital storage has eliminated the scarcity of space for moving and storing text, images, sound, and video. Encyclopedia editors no longer have arbitrary limits, whether 10 volumes or 20, to encapsulate all human knowledge. There’s plenty of room for anything that can be digitized. With a handheld device, you have a library in your palm.
In terms of previous human experience, a proposal by Google to digitize every book ever produced is boggling. Google’s collection will far surpass the holdings of any library. That includes Harvard University, whose collection of 15 million volumes is the largest academic library in the world. The Google Books Library Project will also exceed the Library of Congress’ 42.3 million volumes and the British Library’s 25 million. With the project’s expansion to additional languages, the collection will also dwarf French Bibliothéque’s 13 million volumes in French.
The new challenge is organizing the digitized material to facilitate access. Good-bye to the Dewey decimal and other indexing systems. Digitized materials can be searched in infinite ways—not just titles, authors, and subjects but even passages.
Online storage for consumers became popular in the 2000s. Apple’s MobileMe and Microsoft Exchange both offered push-based e-mail, online calendars, and contact management. These systems were not passive in the sense that consumers no longer had to initiate the download of data. Rather, new e-mail messages, contact information, and calendar events were pushed to consumers’ device without prompting.
Cloud storage became available in the mid-2000s, allowing companies and consumers to store data “in the cloud” rather than on one’s computer.
Apple transitioned to iCloud in 2011, providing every consumer with an Apple device (also called iOS devices, referencing Apple devices with operating systems) 5 GB of free cloud storage. iCloud includes all of the former MobileMe services (e-mail, contacts, calendar services) and added an iBook and App store, enabling consumers to download apps and books to all of their Apple devices. iCloud automatically updates the data on all connected devices via wireless connection. Consumers gained even more control with iCloud because they could access all of their previous purchases, including music, television shows, and movies that may have been lost on an old device. In addition, consumers are no longer required to store all of their data on their devices. Rather, with iCloud, and similar cloud-based services, consumers can download the songs, movies, television shows, and books they wish to use, and keep the rest on their cloud service.
Cloud services extend beyond our personal devices though. Amazon’s Echo, for instance, is a cloud-based service where the questions consumers ask Alexa (Echo’s alternate name) as well as music playlists, connected home devices, shopping lists, etc. are all stored and processed in the Cloud. Other Cloud-based services include Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive.
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