New Media

The phrase “new media” is an element of elite discourse; it is used more often by professors than by anyone else. Taking the titles of books published in English as a rough way to estimate usage, it would seem that new media as such first became a concern among educators in the 1960s. So new media arrived in something of the same fashion as “new math,” as a result of anxieties about American competitiveness that accompanied technological advances amid the Cold War. (The new media in question then were instructional media, like educational broadcasting, filmstrips, transparencies, and language labs.) Anxiety lingers as part of the “new media” formulation in interesting ways, but this history was eventually superseded and forgotten, as the phrase came to refer more certainly in the 1990s to computers, digital networks, and associated technologies. This new usage is evidenced by a flood of publications, which has included …

This essay may be found on page 130 of the printed volume.

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