The Electronic Tablet: New Media for today’s consumer.

Alvaro Espiritu Santo Raba

We often hear the term “new media” being tossed around as if it was referring to electronic gadgets or marvelous new technologies out of the “Flash Gordon” movies.  The truth is that most recent technologies are developed from previous ones in order to suit each countries needs at the time. The ability to print books allowed people to share and consume knowledge easily, the telegraph permitted for shorter and faster messages to be transmitted to places who had been thought out as “unreachable” previously.  Printing also helped to encourage social  interactions with the exchange of new ideas that paved the way for new technological developments.

It is important to consider that there is no actual “story of media” from a technical o very literal definition.  Most of what we see in museums or read in books talk about the impact they had on society. But we never learn most of the back story, we never learn what drove this men and women to develop and improve this radical new ideas that changed the world they were living in.  After all,  Technologies; whether they be devoted to communication or not, are thus extensions of our humanity, not the cold, alien, external forces envisioned by the paranoia of bad science fiction. (Morrison, 1)  If we understand our media we can improve our understanding of mankind through out the ages.

The definition of new media depends intricately on the whole social context within which production and consumption get defined. (Gitelman, 15)  Take for instance the electronic tablets we have today.  Everyone probably thinks that Apple came up with the idea  for the Ipad (the first in this generation of electronic tablets) “out of thin air” thanks to the constant innovation the company is associated with.  Nothing could be farther from the truth. If we take a look back we can easily discover there were a lot of previous technologies that helped the Ipad find it’s way to retail stores.  The actual first tablet made by Apple was called the Newton Message Pad 100 and it looked more like a PDA (Personal Digital Assistant).


Personal Digital Assistants were not around for a long time, and Apple kept developing new ideas and technologies that might help introduce an electronic tablet suited for today’s society.  After the introduction of the Iphone on 2008, Apple found the way to develop an interface that adjusted to society’s demands.  The product sold 170 million iPads since it’s release on 2010.  Such success has driven other companies to develop their own version of the tablet like the Galaxy Tab, the Xoom or the Black Berry Play Book. We should consider the fact that there were other tablets released before the Ipad such as Amazon’s Kindle or even some computer tablets developed by Microsoft.

So what was it about the Apple Ipad that made it successful? In my opinion, the Ipad became a hit because it changed the way in which we consumed media.  The introduction of “apps” was a cultural revolution because it allowed people to consume all kinds of different information (we can watch movies, read books, get news information) from the comfort of their own homes as well as the opportunity to develop their own ideas. Much like the telegraph or even the printer, this device allowed us to communicate efficiently  and shorten distances between each other. Like its ancestors, the tablet has clearly proven that  Media operate not only as subjects for historical inquiry, but also as the substance of all history. (Lang, 5)

There are no limits to what we can accomplish with technology.  Human Kind has been through a long journey since we first had tools made out of stone or a man first had a dream about reaching for the stars.  We are so technological advanced right know that we can accomplish almost everything we set our minds to.  Projects like the electronic tablet or even things like Google Glass maybe just the beginning.


Technology doesn’t define us as a group but we use technology as a proud achievement of what we are and what we can become. “We approach the final phase of the extensions of man -the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society” (Mc Luhan, Excerpts from Understanding Media, 1)


“The Long History of New Media,” Introduction to Park, David W., Steve Jones, and Nicholas W. Jankowski, eds. The Long History of New Media. New York, NY: Peter Lang, 2011.

James C. Morrison, “The Place of Marshall McLuhan in the Learning of His Time,” Counterblast, 1 (2001), NYU.

Marshall McLuhan, “The Medium is the Message,” (Excerpts from Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man, Part I, 2nd Edition; originally published, 1964)

Lisa Gitelman, Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2008. Excerpt from Introduction