Innovation in the Irish digital media industry between 1999 and 2002: an emergent new 'content' industry
Cawley, Anthony (2003) Innovation in the Irish digital media industry between 1999 and 2002: an emergent new 'content' industry. PhD thesis, Dublin City University.
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During the period of this study, digital media comprised an increasingly pervasive but still emergent medium in society. Most formal academic, industrial and governmental research into the emergence of digital media industries and innovations focused on technological and software artefacts, to the neglect o f content. Such studies subscribed to a distinctly determinist conception o f emergence and innovation, regarding them as essentially linear, closed processes, with digital media emerging under an autonomous momentum and causing dramatic changes to society and people's lives. The studies were, in the main, conducted at macro and meso-Ievel, based largely on statistical analysis, and they measured the value of scientific and technical knowledge to innovation.
This thesis argues that such approaches are unsuited to the study o f the content industry, which remains a distinct domain within the overall digital media sector. Content innovation is marked by important qualitative differences compared to technological innovation, e.g. it is dependent on competencies less tangible than scientific and technical knowledge. A conceptual framework sensitive to such differences is required to form a deeper understanding o f the emergence o f the digital content industry and the development dynamics o f the innovation processes shaping its development.
In response to conceptions o f closed, linear emergence o f both industries and innovations, this thesis argues that emergence and innovation have been multidimensional, multi-directional processes, influenced by many factors (social, economic, organisational, technical) at many levels.
The conceptual framework for this study draws on theories and concepts from a number o f disciplinary fields. It draws on those traditionally applied to the study of technological innovation within mature industries, and adapted them to the study o f content innovation within an early emerging industry. The study seeks to draw on and integrate insights drawn from: a) recent systems o f innovation literature, b) science/technology and society studies field (e.g., debates over social shaping and technological determinist theories), as well as c) those drawn from the more familiar communication and media studies field.
The empirical aspects o f the research have aimed to monitor, describe and analyse rapidly changing developments in this emergent industry since the late 1990s. The study addresses the key trends in the emerging industry at macro, meso and microlevels. Part o f the study involves an industrial-level analysis in an attempt to better map and understand the unfolding strategies and trends with particular attention to the Irish context. This research project also comprised detailed case studies o f the dynamics o f innovation within a number of individual digital media companies.
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