The Role of Media in Communication History

Media are the primary communication channels or tools employed to deliver and store data or information. The word refers generally to the components of this vast mass media communications sector, including print media, broadcast media, multimedia, photography, video, publishing, and the news media. Broadly, it is also used as a collective term to refer to any medium or channel of communication that disseminates information and promotes communication between people and organizations. In most cases, a medium of communication is defined as a unique system of transmission capable of transmitting voice, data, images, and other forms of data across an IP network. The term also includes electronic media and computer media.

The terms “MEDIA” and “electronic media” are often used interchangeably, but they are distinct entities with different characteristics and functions. While electronic media facilitates transmission of information, multimedia conveys images and sounds and can be pre-recorded, or designed for live viewing. On the other hand, “MEDIA” applies to both tangible and non-tangible communication. There are many differences between the two, which are discussed below.

Electronic media in the early forms of human communication used analog signals and sound to transmit information. It was the analog signal or sound that conveyed the message in a human communication system. Digital information systems, on the other hand, have shifted from analog to digital information transmission. In most cases, when referring to a medium of communication, the term media is used to include all technological processes and systems that promote communication, irrespective of format and content. This definition excludes broadcasts and some forms of television reception, as it is believed that these systems have changed to an extent from the original principles laid down in the early forms of human communication.

A concept of media in communications psychology is the ability of a medium to elicit affect, which in turn produces a reaction from a human being. This conception of media and its effect on communication patterns across cultures with different languages and cultural practices implies that electronic and digital media to facilitate cross-cultural communication by affecting attitudes and behavior. Cross-cultural interaction depends on the impact of the electronic and digital media on the perceptions and values of participants in the exchange of information and culture. These assumptions have been challenged by developments in communication technology, but they remain prominent in debates on media and culture.

Media are grouped into three main categories: analog, digital and hard drives. Hard drives can be classified according to their capacity: physical capacity, transfer rate and transfer size. Physical media include television sets, radio receivers, telephones, personal computers, personal digital assistants (PDAs), personal digital video recorders (PVR), compact disks and DVDs, and video game consoles.

Digital media refers to electronic data that may be stored in electronic memory devices, such as personal computers or digital watches. Digital media is widely used in the production of electronic magazines, newspapers, books and other media. Examples of digital media produced by traditional media include comic books, radio shows, films, television shows and video games. Examples of digital media developed for the communications industry include e-mail systems, instant messaging and the Internet.