Media Innovations, User Innovations, Societal Innovations

Axel Bruns


As the Journal of Media Innovations comes into existence, this article reflects on the first and most obvious question: just what do we mean by “media innovations”? Drawing on the examples of a range of recent innovations in media technologies and practices, initiated by a variety of media audiences, users, professionals, and providers, it explores the interplay between the different drivers of innovation and the effects of such innovation on the complex frameworks of contemporary society and the media ecology which supports it. In doing so, this article makes a number of key observations: first, it notes that media innovation is an innovation in media practices at least as much as in media technologies, and that changes to the practices of media both reflect and promote societal changes as well – media innovations are never just media technology innovations. Second, it shows that the continuing mediatisation of society, and the shift towards a more widespread participation of ordinary users as active content creators and media innovators, make it all the more important to investigate in detail these interlinked, incremental, everyday processes of media and societal change – media innovations are almost always also user innovations. Finally, it suggests that a full understanding of these processes as they unfold across diverse interleaved media spaces and complex societal structures necessarily requires a holistic perspective on media innovations, which considers the contemporary media ecology as a crucial constitutive element of societal structures and seeks to trace the repercussions of innovations across both media and society – media innovations are inextricably interlinked with societal innovations (even if, at times, they may not be considered to be improvements to the status quo).


Media innovations; Commodification; Media Industries

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