Internet: The Newest Mass Medium Essay

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Internet: The Newest Mass Medium

In order to analyze the Internet as a mass medium, we first have to look at the original intentions of the Internet. Originally the Internet was utilized strictly by the government and educational institutions. Its primary purposes were research and education, although it soon became a form of entertainment for a portion of the population through games, chat, and email. The idea of using the Internet for entertainment and commercial use was outrageous to the current users of the technology, and when listservs began posting advertisements, they did not respond well. These users wanted to keep the focus of this particular media very narrow and two-dimensional, so to speak. However, commercialization
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Because of the expansiveness of the Internet, it is not easy to ascertain the demographics of the average users in an accurate way. Surveys can be created, but it is even more difficult to gather demographic research for the Internet than it is for television or radio, and acceptable samples of Internet users are not easy to obtain. Internet users can be broken up into groups of gender and age first, and further down the line, by social class. Ethnicity is generally not a good way to analyze the ‘average’ user because within the US there is a very small portion of non-whites using the Internet, so generally, targeting a particular ethnic group is not commonly done by sites on the Internet. The difficulty of breaking up the Internet audience into ‘manageable’ groups has been a source of some debate among researchers and academics. Leslie Regan Shade noted in a talk, Community Internetworking: The International Free-Internet Conference, ‘One of the characteristics of computer mediated-communication (CMC) is its lack of easy social contextualization.’ Most current researchers tend to analyze the Internet through the critical approach. Rather than attempt to look at the influence on individuals using the Internet, they study the influences on society, or the whole audience of the medium. Also, because of the commercialization of the
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