In 2015, the Australian Media Oral History Group (AMOHG) decided that a new venture – The New Media Oral History Project – was worthy of its support. AMOHG has prioritised this Project to record the pioneers of New Media and Convergence in Australia as quickly as viable.
Members agree that it is both important and urgent to record those who in Australia have led this major technological and cultural change before memories dim or die or the wisdom of hindsight replaces the actuality of the voyage and the real lessons learnt. There will never be a better time to start.
It is intended that the recordings be held by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).
Recording the development of New Media in Australia
The last thirty years have brought enormous change to the media sector driven by revolutionary digital technological development. The pace of change is not about to slow given the unstoppable development of new platforms such as virtual reality.
***See Appendix A for a definition of New Media and related terms.
At a 2015 meeting of AMOHG, Malcolm Smith undertook to look at the development of the New Media sector in Australia as he and other AMOHG members, believed it important to capture recordings of the key players involved in the sector from the mid-1980s to today.
Several pioneer practitioners were involved in compiling a preliminary list of key players worthy of interview.
In February 2016 the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) confirmed that five New Media-related oral histories could be funded by the NFSA as part of its Oral History Program.
In 2017 the NFSA agreed to fund a further five interviews.
In 2018 the NFSA agreed to recording a further ten names on the New Media priority list.
Methodology in compiling list of key players
To compile a list of players since the mid-1980s, discussions were held with several practitioners who have had deep and extensive involvement in the development of New Media. In particular, Chris Winter, a New Media pioneer of note, helped to compile the list.
The practitioners consulted by Malcolm Smith and Chris Winter were David Court, Sandra Davey, Rachel Dixon, Guy Gadney, Malcolm Long, Justin Milne, Jason Romney, Claudia Sagripanti, Rachel Slattery, Paul Whybrow, Jennifer Wilson and Louise van Rooyen.
These practitioners were asked to suggest key players who would be able to provide, via interview:
- A history of how Australia’s New Media and Convergence sector has developed;
- The technical, political, regulatory and commercial issues at play; and.
- What role the interviewee played in this history.
Malcolm Smith is now leading a working party comprising Sandra Davey, Graham Shirley and, previously the late Chris Winter, to further finesse and prioritise the list of potential interviewees.
It is intended that as many interviews as possible will be videod.
Chief Entertainment Pty Limited, a Telstra Corporation Company, generously supported this Project by providing ‘in kind’ free support, by way of facilities and personnel, to video interviews over a two year period.
AFTRS has also supported the New Media Project with student volunteers acting as researcher/interviewer under AMOHG supervision. In 2017 there were two student volunteers – Andre Shannon and Jack Atherton. It has also given generous support by providing recording studios and equipment.
Recordings to date –
Five industry practitioners were recorded in 2016 – Brendan Harkin, Megan Elliott, Chris Winter(twice 1 x audio,1 x AV), Guy Gadney and Jennifer Wilson.
In 2017 seven interviews were completed with John Butterworth, Gary Hayes, Tom Kennedy, Rachel Dixon, Louise van Rooyen, Sandra Davey and Zina Kaye.
Jason Romney was recorded in January 2018.
NFSA agreed to recording a further ten names on the New Media priority list in the financial year 2018/19.
Colin Griffith, Chris Fitz-Gibbon, Kate Richards, Malcolm Long, Gabby Shaw, Seb Chan and Molly Reynolds have been recorded thus far as part of the current batch.
The NFSA has agreed that in order to acknowledge AMOHG’s involvement in this project, it will credit AMOHG as the producer of the New Media Project interviews.
Additionally the New Media Project interviews have this general note added to their summaries:
Interview conducted as part of the Australian Media Oral History Group’s (AMOHG) New Media Project.
An advanced search in STC, using New Media Project (exact phrase) will summon all the interviews that have been accessioned so far.
This will only be applied to the New Media Project, not to interviews commissioned by the Oral History Project and conducted by AMOHG members.
Support in cash and kind support is also being sought from other organisations with a view to speeding up the recording process.
APPENDIX A – DEFINITIONS
It is important to define New Media and Convergence, as distinct from film, television and sound, and attached here are useful definitions.
New Media – products and services that provide information or entertainment using the Internet and a variety of devices including computers, and not by traditional media methods such as radio, television and newspapers:
Multimedia – In the 1993 first edition of McGraw-Hill’s Multimedia: Making It Work, Tay Vaughan declared “Multimedia is any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video that is delivered by computer. When you allow the user – the viewer of the project – to control what and when these elements are delivered, it is interactive multimedia. When you provide a structure of linked elements through which the user can navigate, interactive multimedia becomes hypermedia.” 
Convergence – Media convergence generally refers to the merging of both old and new media and can be seen as a product, a system or a process. Media scholar Henry Jenkins states that convergence is, “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behaviour of media audiences who would go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they wanted”. 
According to Jenkins, there are five areas of convergence: technological, economic, social or organic, cultural and global.
So media convergence is not just a technological shift or a technological process, it also includes shifts within the industrial, cultural, and social paradigms that encourage the consumer to seek new information. Convergence, simply put, is how individual consumers interact with others on a social level and use various media platforms to create new experiences, new forms of media and content that connect us socially, and not just to other consumers, but to the corporate producers of media in ways that have not been as readily accessible in the past.
Media convergence, in reality, is more than just a shift in technology. It alters relationships between industries, technologies, audiences, genres and markets. Media convergence changes the rationality media industries operate in, and the way that media consumers process news and entertainment. Media convergence is essentially a process and not an outcome, so no single black box controls the flow of media. With the proliferation of different media channels and increasing portability of new telecommunications and computing technologies, we have entered into an era where media constantly surrounds us.