How do the affordances of a networked media culture (hyperlinks, multimedia, sharing etc.) enhance online communication?
The shift of modern networks into an online context has prompted a greater concern with establishing an interaction and integration focused model for communication. The affordances of our now networked media culture, being features such as hyperlinks, multimedia and sharing have enhanced both our technological and social daily experiences and represent a collective desire to be recognised, accepted and responded to by the world. These features also enable online users the opportunity to explore the online environment through an array of formats, such as textual, visual and audio, regardless of their communication and learning preferences. Thus it has become evident that an unprecedented convergence of formerly popular forms of data visualisation and communication (In particular film, television, books and journalism) has taken place and the result is a single, highly complex online network of sources that is accessible by anyone. The impact of hyperlinks, multimedia and sharing has been significant across industries in terms of politics, social dynamics and economics. As Alexander Halavais (2008, p. 52) theorises, ‘the penetration of hyperlinks is likely to become even more ubiquitous as our computing devices do’.
The humble blue text underline is now synonymous with hyperlinks and has come to be a representation of online creative freedom and connectivity. By selecting a hyperlink, online users are able to contextualise content or material with corresponding sources and view the origins of information, just as an index or reference list would provide in the analogue world, but at an extremely fast speed. (Bridges 2013) They provide avenues for accessing new information within a specific location or webpage and can also provide the means for publishing original content. This SoundCloud recording from SXSW gives great insight into the spread of online content.
Also, the structure of a Facebook dashboard offers a number of hyperlinks to lead into other domains of the webpage – from personal messages, fan pages. One can view other individual’s profiles and by clicking on an upload icon, you are able to attach photographs, URL addresses and video to a profile – as seen in this photograph;
Rich hyperlinks can also transcend the online world to prompt physical reactions, as is the case with QR codes, mailing lists, GPS tracking and in particular online shopping or banking (For example, Google Maps and Amazon). This technology further emphasises the extent to which networked media culture has affected our lifestyles, by ultimately making social interaction, navigation and administrative problems solvable on the go. Hyperlinks have also allowed online business networks to better analyse traffic and deliver products or services that are a reflective of the needs of their market.
Furthermore, the availability of sharing or reblogging affordances on popular online sites and social networking services has assisted in the formulation of identities and global communities. At present, Youtube (the 2nd most used search engine) offers users the ability to link and share a multimedia video with up to 10 other online platforms, including Pinterest, LinkedIn and Blogger. Moreover, the nature of Twitter allows users to engage with communities of interest, be it friends or public figures through sharing and reblogging tweets. The affordance of tagging also provides a means for categorising information for ease of reference. (Zengotita 2005)
The human – computer interaction dynamic has become increasingly involved with the affordances of modern media networks, however it is fair to state that with such change has come a greater sense of connectivity and security. These affordances have stimulated a revision of attitudes towards communication whereby interacting online or obtaining information is a practise that requires less patience, endless searching and even the need for wires and cables.
Bridges, S 2013, 9022 Digital Media Literacy, lecture 2, week 2: WWW, hyperlinks, app-ification, lecture PowerPoint slides/lecture content, viewed 20 September 2013, <http://learnonline.canberra.edu.au/course/view.php?id=10393>.
Halavais, A 2008, ‘The Hyperlink as organising principle’, in J Turow & Tsui (EDs), The hyperlinked society: Questioning connections in the digital age, viewed 29 August 2013, University of Canberra E-Reserve.
Hinton, S & Hjorth, L 2013, ‘What is Web 2.0?’ (Ch. 2), in Understanding Social Media, viewed 29 August 2013, University of Canberra E-Reserve.
Media Convergence, 2011, online video, 2 December, apriliafool, viewed 25 September 2013, <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7lcUKjGKiEw>
Spreadable Media: Value, Meaning & Network Culture – SXSW Interactive, 2013, audio podcast, April, SXSW Media Conference, accessed 20 September 2013, <http://souncloud.com/officialsxsw/spreadable-media-value-meaning>.
WebDesignerDepot 2011, Community or social networking sites, online photograph/screenshot, viewed 25 September 2013, <http://www.webdesignerdepot.com/2011/11/navigation-patterns-for-ten-common-types-of-websites/>.
Zengotita, T 2005, Mediated; How the Media shape your world, Bloomsbury Publishing, USA.