New Media is the term used for networked computerized or digital technologies that permeate society. There are many definitions of New Media, depending on the




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НазваниеNew Media is the term used for networked computerized or digital technologies that permeate society. There are many definitions of New Media, depending on the
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Benjamin Mettey

LIS470

12/4/2009


New Media is the term used for networked computerized or digital technologies that permeate society. There are many definitions of New Media, depending on the time period one looks at. This paper will focus on the newest definition of New Media, mainly written about by writer/theorist Lev Manovich. For sake the sake of time and clarity, this paper will not look at New Media in relation to post-modernism. Those looking for this relationship can find more information in Modernity and Postmodern Culture, by Jim McGuigan (2006, p.122) or Douglas Kellner and Albert Borgmann's essays on technology and New Media. As previously stated, this paper will focus on just one of the many theories involving New Media.

Lev Manovich writes that New Media has emphasis on the use of computers for distribution and exhibition rather than production. This emphasis must be made because documents can be drafted on a computer and outputted to paper, which is not new media. (Hassan, 2006, p. 36). Any media that is born digital, whose end result is digital can be considered New Media. As with any widespread media type, New Media also has cultural implications.

Manovich hints at New Media being the next great invention, comparing it to the printing press and to photography (Hassan, 2006, p.36). These comparisons are not unwarranted. The invention of the printing press and photography made major changes to our society (with the press emphasizing literacy for all and photography creating an exact likeness of reality), and new media is making similar changes by networking the world as well as emphasizing the push towards an increasingly visual-based culture.

To understand New Media, we need to acknowledge that it has (and will have) a larger cultural context.

The New Media Reader outlines eight propositions (also written by Manovich) for placing New Media in this context:

New Media versus Cyberculture : Though related, the two fields are different. Cyberculture consists of online communities and online identity while new media deals with newly created cultural objects that are enabled by online communities. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p.16)

New Media as Computer Technology used as a Distribution Platform: Though it is ubiquitous in society, is there one area of our culture that specifically owes its existence to computing? If the media types define what new media is, the definition must be updated with each new technology. These updates will push the older “new” technologies back, making an ambiguity between what is actually new technology and what is not. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p.16) (Looking at #2, I think that question that Manovich raises can be answered. Cyberculture owes its existence to computing, since without new media and computing, that social phenomena could not flourish.)

New Media as Digital Data Controlled by Software: Computers model reality through data structures and algorithms, so media born digital will also share those two features. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p.17)

New Media as the Mix Between Existing Cultural Conventions and the Conventions of Software : Since digital media may not develop the same way as its' physical counterpart, users may witness “uneven development”. New Media is a digital version of something real, so it can share the conventions of the real media, while at the same time being malleable in the digital realm. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p.18)

New Media as the Aesthetics that Accompanies the Early Stage of Every New Modern Media and Communication Technology: There is a perspective that any media was once “new media”, and these previous iterations where considered by society to let us access the “real” by offering immediacy, but could also destroy humanity and our relationship with the world. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p.19)

New Media as Faster Execution of Algorithms Previously Executed Manually or through Other Technologies: New media is an acceleration of previous manual technologies. Manovich gives the example of looking around in a three dimensional digital atmosphere that offers constant changes in visual perspective as compared to hand-drawn perspective that was painstakingly produced in the Renaissance. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p. 20)

New Media as the Encoding of Modernist Avant-Garde; New Media as Metamedia :

Manovich draws the connection between Avant-Garde and new media, in that Avant-Garde filtered reality by creating mixed-media works, which is what new media does now, but in a non-physical realm. New media filters reality by manipulating information which in turn affects the viewer. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p. 22)

New Media as Parallel Articulation of Similar Ideas in Post-WWII Art and Modern Computing: New media's birth happened in the 1960s, as new art was emerging. The idea of audience participation could change the art depending on who was there when the piece was presented is related to computer networking now. New media changes with the users' biases. (Wardrip-Fruin, 2003, p. 23)


After reading these criteria that Manovich laid out, I started thinking about New Media now. We are living in the New Media age, when using technology both engaging and participatory is commonplace and often times expected. When it is not engaging, it is typically seen as poorly designed. An example of this is your average website. The user happens onto a website searching for a topic and the site is riddled with advertisements, resulting in the user getting frustrated with the ads and leaving the website. Whereas with a more forward thinking website like Facebook, the ads are interspersed with the users' updates, making them more minute. The other difference is that through data mining, the ads directly relate to whatever information the user has inputted to their profile. The goal now is to make websites and web data seamlessly connect, so that no matter what variety of applications or social networking sites you are using, they will be networked together. This interconnection is already being demonstrated via the Semantic Web, but its importance is being emphasized by many designers.

If new media is considered a likeness of reality, then it must have a specific lifespan. What was once web 1.0 is web 2.0, which will turn into the semantic web (Munster, 2009). The next phase has so many different implications yet the interconnection is already becoming reality. The example that I am thinking of is the introduction of smart-phones into the mainstream. A user can now check on their virtual personas from anywhere, whereas it used to be that you could only check them while at a computer. This shift makes people more plugged into their virtual life but less plugged into their everyday material life, further embracing New Media.

Manovich's New Media is not the only definition of New Media, but it considers larger ideas that are already taking shape in today's world. We are entering the “New Media Age”, where things will be interconnected, published and viewed only in digital form (but will still emulate their old long forgotten paper media types), and will involve social interaction with others, despite physical boundaries.


References:

Hassan, R., Thomas, J., & ebrary, I. (2006). The New Media Theory Reader. Maidenhead: OpenUniversity Press.


Kellner, D. Crossing the Postmodern Divide with Borgmann or Adventures in Cyberspace. Self-Published on Author's Website.


Manovich, L. (2002). The Language of New Media (1 MIT Press pbk ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.


McGuigan, J., & ebrary, I. (2006). Modernity and postmodern culture (2nd ed.). Maidenhead: Open University Press.


Munster, A, Murphie, A. (2009) Web 2.0: Before, During and After the Event. Fibreculture (14) Retrieved from http://journal.fibreculture.org/issue14/index.html on 11/13/2009


Wardrip-Fruin, N., Montfort, N., & ebrary, I. (2003). The New Media Reader. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.

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