Different Media Types, creating a guide and map

In presenting this topic with many groups and having many conversations with leading industry peers, I have detailed hundreds of different shifts in how we communicate. We are now in the age of instant information gratification where we search for information within our personal and professional networks, seeking to find the singular source of credible and sound business advice. Simply said: we want better and more accurate information faster.

The unfortunate and sad thing is that social media adoption and user generated content has broken our previous utilization of media (if not the way we communicate as both individuals and groups entirely), we are simply finding our traditional models of communication suffering from an insane amount of irregular and unsupported information that creates digital noise.

Our biggest challenge is that few of us know how to sift through this noise.

Ultimately our lives have come to a crisis point: we strive to learn in a classroom that looks more like a playground for toddlers: everyone is talking, too many people vying for attention but having nothing to say, and the one conversation we are interested in learning from is muffled by the roar of commotion.

As we connect this crisis with our understanding of how media and communication historically worked, we have to redefine how we choose to relay our messages today.

Understanding the basic lay of the land

While the tools remain very consistent across size and geography, the basic purpose of why people connect to different media types is related to how several elements interact to create a “perfect storm” out of the information chaos.

In larger communities and organizations, user generated content has created many forms of media ranging from employee and customer conversations, product reviews, buzz campaigns, and more.

In smaller groups and personal networks, the same user generated content has developed into channels of niche information, experience sharing, and personal story.

Regardless of group size, having the most detailed map of what different media types are allows us to begin pin-pointing where we want to go and how we are going to get there.

Traditional – Digital – Mobile

With user contribution and involvement rising, we need to define the three most established segments of media: traditional, digital, and mobile. When thinking out these three segments- visualize them as the land, sea, and air.

Traditional media serves as the home base of most historic businesses. Traditional media often has the most “solid” feeling to it, often providing us with tangible elements we can see, feel, hear, and react to.

Digital media is more like being on the open sea. It is very fluid, when it is calm there are tides that create good channels of commerce, but when turbulent waves and storms occur, huge delays occur and tangible goods are lost in the vast unknown.

Mobile media is the space that begins to connect our ideas, where a lot of entrepreneurship takes flight and almost no one has fully explored. It is hard to rationalize and measure,  often caused by a massive inability for wireless carriers and hardware manufacturers to work together.


  • traditional media: television, radio, newsprint, and direct mail.
  • digital media: online communities (Facebook, Linkedin), Microblogging (Twitter, Qik), Video (Youtube, HULU), photos (Flickr, Picasa)
  • mobile media: could involve both traditional and digital, but focuses around WIFI, texting, mobile web access, and geo-location.


While traditional, digital, and mobile media are core environmental factors of the situation, social and hyper media are half-breeds that revolve not only around specific channels and platforms, but the usage of each channel by individuals and groups within them.

At its core, social media combines traditional, digital, and mobile media. It includes everything from blogging to live video broadcasting, focusing around our human need to share our experiences and thoughts with like-minded people.

If we give a real world analogy for social media, we could relate it to being the weather: when the rain comes, people get a little bit annoyed and when the sun shines you hear a whole lot of “happy-go-lucky” comments. An important facet of social media is that the longer you are subjected to a certain type of weather, the more relaxed you become (I.E. oblivious) to potential issues and if you don’t create a strong foundation your house – it could float away during the next heavy rain.

Hyper media is a collection of digital information surrounding specific people. Some of the oldest types of hyper media include the dewey decimal system to help librarians assign classification to different types of writing or bar code scanners that attach database information to retail goods in a grocery store. In this current era, hyper media has become readily accessible using mobile phones: allowing the average person to “Google” almost anything, anywhere or find local reviews about businesses as they drive by them with a GPS unit.

Hyper media is very situational and continuously shifting. Every single object, person, or event that interacts with any other object, person, or event creates a unique change. For this reason hyper media is really best thought of as time passing: it is almost impossible to exactly recreate the moment you just experienced and you will have an incredibly hard time getting all the same pieces back into alignment.


  • social media: blogging, texting, hashtags, online video, social sharing
  • hyper media: wireless identification, “bumping” an iPhone for contact information, “Googling” something to find more information.


This is not a conclusion, but rather an introduction. Over the next few weeks I’ll be releasing additions that go further in-depth on each media type, as well as looking at factors that allow someone to plan a truly comprehensive strategy.

If you have questions or comments, please leave them below or contact me and I will try to work them into the discussion and framework.

[stextbox id=”info” caption=”Upcoming Segment – The Elements of Media”]The upcoming portion of this series looks at the elements of media affect each media type, with additional viewpoints on how they interact. Make sure to follow me on Twitter @barryhurd to keep up to date. [/stextbox]

3 thoughts on “Different Media Types, creating a guide and map”

  1. Great article article, Barry. I look forward to reading what’s to come. I’ll admit things did get a little fuzzy for me though. Essentially you identified 5 media types – trad, dig, mob, soc, and hyp. Where I get a little fuzzy is that I’ve always considered Social Media to be a combination of dig and mob. And then Hyper is a fairly new term for me and, based on your explanation, I think you’re saying Social Media is about “sharing” (sharing blog posts, texts, videos, etc.) while Hyper Media is about “getting” (getting location specific details, getting search results data, getting iPhone contact info, etc.). Maybe it’s just me, but perhaps clarifying that could be an angle for your next post. I look forward to reading more…and I ALWAYS love examples (the weather and land/sea/air stuff…I’m very visual). Again, great job.

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