PR Academy Conference 2008

I attended the PR Academy Conference 2008 a couple of weeks ago. The focus was on new media:

“Strategic Communication: Communicating in a New Media Environment”. It seems that new media is all the rage now, esp in the field of PR and advertising.
Well, there were some good speakers and some not so good speakers. In fact, with a couple of speakers, one couldn’t help but wonder if they had any experience with new media at all, or if their interpretation of new media was aligned with the rest of ours.
Anyway, I thought that the GOH Dr Vivian Balakhrishnan gave a pretty good speech on the differences between traditional and new media, and how the content and distribution of content has changed over time. He also mentioned the need to make presentations visually interesting and also short.
Now, I’ve been wondering – there’s been so much talk about the young today (digital natives) who are impatient and who can only take in bite (byte)-sized information, and how they would be bored easily with any long lectures or notes. Now, could this be a chicken and egg problem in that because we think that people today are not able to handle longer texts, that we give them shorter ones, and in so doing, are we also not creating a whole generation of people who can only text SMSes and Twitter their ideas in 140 characters?
A colleague who also attended the session raised an interesting point – would we need to talk about new media in a few years’ time? Are we discussing this so much because we are in the transition stage between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ so to speak, that in a few years’ time when ‘new’ media becomes ‘older’, we no longer have to garpple so much with it? Hm..interesting.
That brings up another point – do we define new media as anything associated with Web 2.0? And like the terms ‘modernism’ and ‘post-modernism’, there will crystallise a specific definition to go with those terms? Or will the term ‘new media’ encompass the constantly evolving changes that take place? So, anything that’s new media is ‘new media’!
Another interesting observation I made is that often, it’s the digital immigrants who talk about and study new media. A number of speakers so far who talk about new media at the conferences I have attended are clearly digital immigrants. 
Could it be that digital immigrants, having lived through the changes, are in a better position to study and talk about the transition? Or could it simply be that the digital natives are too busy using new media to talk about it or analyse it? For them, could it be simply a following of the famous adage – Just Do It!

Any comments, anyone?