Online communication now involves more than just sharing text between two people; it has been enhanced by the ability to send hyperlinks, multimedia and share files. A networked media culture has allowed these advancements to occur. Social networking sites appeared in the late 20th century and have grown immensely in popularity since, creating a whole new mode of communication. Page (2011) stated “Facebook was designed to replicate and strengthen social connections that existed in the offline world” (pg. 67).
Communication through multimedia is now prominent on the internet with video and photo sharing on YouTube, Tumblr, Facebook and Twitter to name a few. This allows internet and social media users to express their taste in music and movies with fellow users. Hinton and Hjorth (2013) suggest that internet users not only observe websites but interact with and personalise them, “… the internet user is perhaps not best characterised as a member of an audience, with its associated implications of passivity. This kind of user – the person who makes videos, songs, sounds, images and writings and shares them online – is something more active, something that looks more like a producer” (pg. 58).
Page (2011) outlines the “participatory culture” of Facebook with a “variety of communicative channels for interaction”. These include friends sending each other emails, using instant messaging, sharing and tagging photos, posting messages on profiles, playing games, participating in quizzes, and creating status updates where they update their current activity. All of these functions allow friends to keep in touch and easily communicate when not together.
Hyperlinks allow a webpage to link to another for a user to access through a simple click. Often they connect to further information on a topic or are sent from one friend to another because they may be of interest to the receiver. Halavais (2008) describes how the popular search engine Google functions, “By measuring which pages are most central to the network of hyperlinks on the web at large, Google is able to rank its search results according to some indication of salience”. This is very convenient for the internet user, saving them time and providing the best results.
Popular online activities such as games and internet shopping are often shared experiences between friends. Internet users are able to compete together in games, beating each other’s top scores or working together. Friends sometimes send each other links to products they are thinking of buying, whether a car, clothes or something else, asking for their friend’s opinion before purchasing. The website Goodreads allows friends to recommend books to each other.
A networked media culture enhances online communication by allowing internet users to send each other hyperlinks and multimedia, and to share what they have found online. Because there are now so many ways to converse online, the internet has become a much more effective and popular means of communication.
Huffington Post’s social media statistics 2012:
Halavais, A.(2008). The hyperlink as organizing principle. In J. Turow & L. Tsui (EDs), The hyperlinked society: Questioning connections in the digital age. USA: The University of Michigan Press.
Hinton, S. & Hjorth, L. (2013). Understanding social media. London: Sage
Page, E. (2011). Stories of social media: identities and social interaction. Hoboken: Taylor & Francis