Longform and listicles, tinyletters and tweetdecks, snowfalls and subreddits — we are awash with new forms of media. Each new day seems to bring a special new media experience: Blogs pop up over here; data visualizations, over there. And really — how the heck did podcasting become relevant again?
It all seems random, but if you look closely, and live long enough to actually care, you start to see patterns — a historical logic to new media emerges from the seemingly happenstance. And more importantly, if it is indeed a stable history, if our media inventions are not random, then we inhabit a predictable environment. We can see the future in the past.
This brief history of new media sketches a timeline for how we ended up where we are. It proposes three phases of media innovation — Surfing, Drowning, Diving — to outline what has happened and to anticipate what comes next.