Media Ecology explores the idea of a life lived in and through immersion in an environment of digital media and technologies, and the life of media and technologies themselves.
The increasing convergence on the digital form has been accompanied by a new fluidity between interconnected devices and digital media devices now carry, connect to, communicate with and allow the creation and sharing of hybrid, perpetually remixed content. This proliferation of media forms, cultures and experiences takes us beyond the broadcast-era dominance of a limited number of forms (newspapers, radio, cinema and television) exposing a much more complex ‘media ecology’.
Hoskins and Merrin argue that the move to the post-broadcast era exposes the limitations of the established academic media histories of the broadcast-era. Their linear histories of the rise and interrelation of the main forms that dominated the 20th century are important but don’t help us understand the contemporary digital environment. For this we need to move beyond the privileging of print, radio, film and TV and re-immerse within a broader history of technological development and use. What is now needed therefore is a turn to media ecology, to understand how media environments and relationships are formed and transformed; and a turn to media archaeology, to understand how media technologies historically evolve. These approaches allow us to understand the specific evolving ecology and history of our contemporary digital media worlds.