Some of you know that I’m in a program to get my Masters in Communication (Advertising) at Cal State Fullerton. Others know that I’m very interested in social networking and social media (hence my obsession with twitter). Well, because I am currently taking a class on Mass Communications Theory the two interests often collide.
I’ve become very interested in a new Social Show called Harper’s Globe. It is an ongoing web series that is part of the Harper’s Island mythology. It is also done by the same company that created the LonelyGirl15 experience, so it’s already making a large splash.
This week the theory in question that I chose to write on was the Information Diffusion Theory and whether it was relevant in a modern technology world. By looking at Harper’s Globe I saw that it proved the theory valid. The following is my paper that looks at it. I hope you enjoy!
Information Diffusion Theory
In the ever changing world of mass media one must look critically at the current mass communications theories to see their validity in today’s society. One such theory that can be proven as relevant in today’s world of mass communications and new technology is the information diffusion theory first introduced by Everett Rogers in 1962. His information diffusion theory had five stages that new mass communications technologies must be passed down through before being widely adopted (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). The following discussion will examine the stages in relationship to the new media phenomena of the social show, in particular Harper’s Globe, produced to go with CBS’s new television show Harper’s Island.
The first stage is where people are first being made aware of the new form of communication. This can be done through information from mass media (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). It was also suggested that change agents could be involved in the distribution of the information regarding the innovations to assist others in their use ((Baran & Davis, 209, p.272). In looking at Harper’s Globe it is seen as getting press in new media groups as being the first of its kind. The creators of the program, who would be the change agents, are seen through the mass media explaining the concept and inviting people to join the website to find more. They are also available on the website to help people begin to enjoy the experience. As the site begins to become more popular the forming of the second stage is seen.
The second stage is when the communication form is adopted by a small group of early adopters (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). This group of early adopters on the Harper’s Globe website comprised of the creators and members of the company that created the site and the program. They are a small group of people including family and friends of those who created the site and people running the website in various capacities. It is them who explained to the opinion leaders in stage three how the website worked and the in and outs of the new phenomena of a social show (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271).
In stage four the opinion leaders encourage their friends to use the medium (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271). This is currently the stage that Harper’s Globe is in within the information diffusion theory. The opinion leaders are sharing the information about Harper’s Globe on other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. This allows the information to reach a larger number of followers, or opinion followers. As the site grows it is hoped that more people will find there way to the new social show after the television series debuts on CBS. These people would be the late adopters to the show (Baran & Davis, 209, p.271).
Various other factors must be taken into consideration though. One such factor is the role of the active audience. In order for someone to be interested in Harper’s Globe it is suggested that they be an active member of the audience by posting comments, solving mysteries and communicating with the characters, however it is not necessary in order to enjoy the weekly episodes. While being an active audience member can enhance the understanding and pleasure one gets from a social show, it is not crucial, just something extra to keep people interested in new media interested. Unfortunately, the idea of being an active audience is not introduced in the information diffusion theory so it is uncertain how being an active part of the audience influences people’s decisions to try and encourage the use of new media. Time and further exploration of the role that audience participation has in the evolution of new forms of mass communication can, in the future, help form opinions to revise this theory appropriately.