The term new media refers to various technologies that have emerged or seen rapid growth on a global scale during the latter part of the 20th century and into the new millennium. Most people who have an Internet connection are already aware of some of the major types of this media, which includes social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, as well as blogs and video sharing sites such as YouTube. This type of media has also greatly advanced cellular communications in the last twenty years, through applications that connect with the Internet and other technologies. As new media is constantly evolving to connect to as many different platforms and people as possible, one of its most defining characteristics is interactivity.
One of the first forms of new media that the general public became familiar with during the latter-20th century was cyberchatting. Whether one-on-one or within a chatroom, chatting online quickly evolved from a mostly text-based tool to one which also included audio visual capabilities via such applications as webcams. Because of the anonymity afforded by the Internet, many people who engaged in online chatting began reconstructing the narrative of their real lives, posing online under a different name, age, gender or occupation. Today, the notion of a new online identity first introduced in chatrooms has expanded to include visual recreation, via the popular web service, Second Life. On Second Life, members can create their own 3D image, also known as an avatar, and interact with other members in a completely virtual world.
Blogs are another form of new media which have expanded our notions of the levels of interactivity. The ability for bloggers or citizen journalists to post any text, photos or videos for other Internet users could interact with was initially seen as a breakthrough in global communications. The problem, however, of locating blogs which focused on particular topics of interest was then solved by social networking sites, which enabled people to stay abreast of one’s own network of friends and organizations via one website. Social networking sites, such as Facebook, MySpace and Twitter are also compatible with blogs, cellphones, and similar applications, enabling people to send and receive updated information to a select group of users.
The hybridization of different types of media has given way to some concerns over privacy in recent years. The potential to combine different forms of new media into one source, such as connecting to social networking, email, phone, and web banking through a hand-held device, renders one more vulnerable to identity theft via hackers and spyware.