New Media Theory

Misuse of New Media and Technological Determinism

Opening Statement

In Chapter 1.6 of New Media: A Critical Introduction, Lister et al. invite us to ask if technology actually has the power to change us in itself. This question is based in the philosophies of two of the most influential writers on new media, Marshall McLuhan, who said that big cultural shifts can come about through new media technologies, and Raymond Williams, who said that we are the ones who decide how we use the medium, and thus create this change (Lister et al., ch 1.6).

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The External Identity of the New Media User

When we try to think of a user of new media, what do they look like? Online, every day, we build our own virtual identities, but we can also see the intertwining of our identities with computers reflected back on us from other mediums, as being a computer user takes on new meaning. We embrace these meanings (or at least the positive ones), which in turn help us embrace ourselves as users of new media. This discussion is less relevant to new media than the more common discussion of the way we express ourselves through new media, however it seems relevant from the standpoint that these new meanings are largely encouraged by the old media of television and movies, they reflect the social commentary on the new medium, and provide a “remediation of the self” as well (Lister et. al, ch 3.19) .

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Internet Piracy and New Media

The topic of internet piracy is complex, and is guided to a large degree by economic and technical factors. Internet piracy and new media are very much interwoven, however, as the internet and digitization of content is what has enabled this content to separate from its more material form making it less easy to secure. This is the case with broadcast as well, however with digital media the non analogue form also makes it easy to reproduce this content an relive it whenever you chose. In 1994, Steve Jones accurately predicted that the internet will “ensnarl difficult legal matters concerning piracy, copyright and ethics.” Everything about the internet leads to distributing content, however how far can it go? Now that content know no bounds, should they be allowed to roam free or is it possible to keep them boxed in? This article attempts to dissect some of these issues, on a theoretical, historical, and practical level.

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Disguising The Medium

In New Media: A Critical Introduction, Lister et al. (ch. 2.7.1, 2009) quote Bolter and Grusin, who stated that “if the medium really disappeared, as is the apparent goal of the logic of transparency, the viewer would not be amazed because she would not know of the medium’s presence” (1999). After growing up on science fiction movies, the present seems far less consumed by technology than I would have anticipated, and I believe that this “transparency” of the medium is why. While the actuality of technology is definitely different than what science fiction writers anticipated, as in no flying cars or armies of human clones, it has actually far extended some writers’ visions in terms of what we are able to do with computers. Today we have the ability to relay digital content from across the globe in seconds from something that is able to fit into our pockets. Technology is a huge part of our lives, so why does it feel so natural? It seems that one of the ways that we have made technology fit into our lives is by disguising it as other things, thus making the medium “disappear.”

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Technological Determinism: McLuhan and Williams: Do We Control the Media or Does the Media Control Us?

The end of first part of the New Media: A Critical Introduction is spent examining the philosophies of two of the most influential philosophers of new media: Raymond Williams and Marshall McLuhan (ch 1.6 – 1.6.6). Both men have impacted the philosophy and studies of new media and are deemed relevant, however their differing philosophies have created somewhat conflicting ways of looking at new media. Essentially, McLuahn writes about the impact that media has on us, while Williams says that since we determine how we use the media we are the ones who decide the media’s effect (Lister et al. 1.6.1). So, which way of the two men is correct?

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New Media and Nature

I know I talked about Avatar last week, but this week I want to talk about another thing the movie brought up for me. Just to put it out there I’m definitely not Avatar obsessed, but I think that the movie is worth writing about since it has relationships to new media on so many different levels.

Anyhow, one of the things that got me thinking the most about in the movie was our relationship to nature, as one of the main themes in the movies is connection to the living world, while at the same time the movie as a whole was about and encouraged us to disconnect from the real world. In general, the movie did the strange thing of celebrating something that is more organic than than the truly organic. The whole thing struck me as a little bit off, but in general, I guess that after contemplating these conflicting ideas I ended up thinking more about how I should be embracing the natural world, and in general made me worried about how new media could be increasing the gap between it and myself.

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Purpose, New Media, and Avatar

These are some of my thoughts pertaining to my reading thus far in the Digital Media: A Critical Introduction book. I have used chapters instead of page numbers for citations, since I’m reading it on Kindle for PC, which uses a different page numbering system.
In chapter 1.4.2 in Digital Media: A Critical Introduction, Lister et al. outline many interesting points on new media and its use and potential uses or “affordances”. These points inspire us to ask ourselves what exactly a medium lends itself to and how can it best be put to use. Digital Art and animation are probably my favorites out of all the new media, so lets start there.

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Thoughts on Google Wave

During my course in digital media, all teacher student communications are taking place in google wave. These communications are one my first experiences with the program, and I decided that starting out with the program was a good opportunity to explore some questions I had about it and to make some comments.

I’ve had google wave for maybe a month, and checked my account only a couple of times. While it seemed interesting, I did not really seem to have any real reason to explore it until now. As soon as Nicola, (my History and Theory of New Media teacher) and I agreed to use it we came up with the problem of reminding ourselves to check it. One of the most important problems I foresee for google wave is people forgetting about it. There are a few things that could keep me (and other users) coming back to the program, which is something that google has to focus on at this point in development.

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Sabrina C Gelbart - Sabrina Gelbart New Media Studio -

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