Firstly, new media is new because they are continually improving in an ongoing process of innovation of devices, services, systems, and activities on account of human capacity and abilities, creativity and agency.
According to Lievrouw (2011, p. 7), new media can be defined as information and communication technologies and their social contexts formed by devices, practices, and social arrangements and organizational forms that people create and build around artifacts and practices.
There are also some features that distinguish new media from the “old” or so called mass media – networked architecture, ubiquity (presence ‘everywhere’), interactivity, and participation.
Websites, mobile telephones, digital technology – photography, video, and audio – blogs, wikis, file-sharing systems, social media, and open-source software are among what can be considered new media, including devices, systems, process and practices using all this.
With access to new media, this “all permit social groups with diverse interests to build and sustain communities, gain visibility and voice, present alternative or marginal views, produce and share their own do-it-yourself (DIY) information sources, and resist, talk back, or otherwise confront dominant media culture, politics, and power” (Lievrouw, 2011, p. 2).
Of course, we also have to consider the digital divide, i.e, the fact that the majority of population mostly in underdeveloped and developing countries has no access to internet to date, which is considered for many an overwhelming and contemporary mode of social exclusion. However, this is a highly controversial topic within development field. Some scholars as Nederveen Pieterse (in Lovink & Zehle, 2005, p. 11) criticize the emphasis on Internet to bridge social apartheid. He states that “less emphasis on Internet and more on telephone, radio and television would normalize and ground the discussion [ICT4D].”
Cristina F. Souza
Lievrouw, Leah (2011) Alternative and Activist New Media. Oxford: Polity Press
Nederveen Pieterse, J. (2005). Digital Capitalism and Development: the Unbearable Lightness of ICT4D. Lovink, G. and Zehle, S. The Incommunicado Reader (pp. 11-29) Amsterdam: Institute of Network Cultures.