What follow are some edifying formulations on “media” from Clay Shirky’s Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age (Penguin, 2010, 26-27).
Because we are increasingly producing and sharing media, we have to relearn what that word can mean. The simple sense of media is the middle layer in any communication, whether it is as ancient as the alphabet or as recent as mobile phones. On top of this straightforward and relatively neutral definition is another notion, inherited from the patterns of media consumption over the last several decades, that media refers to a collection of businesses, from newspapers and magazines to radio and television, that have particular ways of producing material and particular ways of making money. And as long as we use media to refer just to those businesses, and to that material, the word will be an anachronism, a bad fit for what’s happening today. Our ability to balance consumption with production and sharing, our ability to connect with one another, is transforming the sense of media from a particular sector of the economy to a cheap and globally available tool for organized sharing. (26-7, emphasis added)