Thursday, December 27, 2012

Welcome to NMN :: 2013

We’re glad to be getting started with this course. You'll find it a challenge, but it will also be fun.

Please send me your preferred e-mail address so that I may add you as an author on the class blog. This is important for assignments and reflection. It can also be a great way to contribute to discussions and participate.

***Active class participation is central to our work together.***

Here are a few suggestions about how to participate in the discussion. Remember to keep up with the discussion every couple of days or so. Keep your contributions short and exploratory. Try to respond to what others have already said, if you can. And try to ground your comments and ideas in the readings whenever possible. There are suggestions provided for participating in the discussion under the icon in the main menu entitled "Course information."

Each week a new topic area will appear on the Monday. You can begin discussing things right away on Monday morning - actually it's Sunday midnight if you're inclined to be up at night.

Note: Image of the course text is from


  1. What is "new media studies" and its relationship to the humanities and social sciences ? What are some current views about the emergence and diffusion of media?

    I did a bit of scoping around and liked this excerpt off of the University of Toronto website which describes new media studies as “the intersections of computing, science, the humanities and the visual and performing arts”. This acknowledges the trans-disciplinary field of new media referenced in our questions this week. I’ve shamelessly Google searched for the differences between the humanities and social sciences and gather that in the study of communications the humanities perspective would take a more philosophical approach and that the later would take a more scientific approach with respect to how and why humans communicate using “new media”.
    In her introduction within our textbook Janet Murray speaks to how the computer medium is growing quickly and “drawing on many antecedents and spawning a variety of formats” (Murray, 2003, p. 3). This made me recall reading about a Marshall McLuhan insight that old media tend to become the content of new media. Murray questions why we don’t see the digital medium more clearly as “a single new medium of representation . . . formed by the braided interplay of technical invention and cultural expression at the end of the 20th century? “(p. 3). In a similar vein, Manovich describes new media as “parallel tendencies in modern art and computing technology post World War 11” (p. 15). It was hard for me to get my head wrapped around thinking about computer science being associated with art, but this a bias from my past career in Marketing Communications. For me technology enables art and to consider the “machine” as the art itself is an interesting and valid perspective.
    Manovich’s fifth proposition regarding new media pointed out that all new communications at some point goes through the “new media stage”. This had me recalling Winston’s theory of innovation from the MACT course Comm 505 course on the history of Communications technologies. This theory looked at how the innovation and diffusion of new technology always goes through the same predictive cycle which originally builds off a new idea, which is then initially pushed back by society who are still comfortable with existing, incumbent technologies until eventually there is a “supervening social necessity” and the timing is right for its acceptance. With “new media” artists, writers, or publishers ability to use the computer because it is faster, more cost efficient for design, publishing and sharing (Winston, 1998, p. 14). The cost to produce one printed copy of a print text book versus an electronic book really underscores why the diffusion of new media forms is attractive to even long established, traditional industries like publishing. This becomes even more magnified when quantities of print books increase alongside the production of one electronic copy easily distributed to the masses. Everett Roger’s theory on the Diffusion of Innovations is helpful to explain why new media technologies like Smartphones and social media are diffusing so quickly. His attributes of greater relative advantage, compatibility, trialability, observability and less complexity are at work (Rogers, 2003, p. 16). As costs of the phones quickly decrease, more of us are buying and using and “seeing” their functionality, they are more useful than the old tethered landlines and compatible with our life styles and values of keeping in touch at all times if we choose. tbc :-)

  2. How does new media transform and "remediate" earlier media practices?

    Manovich’s article was helpful for reinforcing how new media transforms and “remediates” from earlier media practices. With respect to the “parallel development of art and computer technology” he says that technology overtook art by extending the artists original ideas much further than they had originally conceived (computer programming, graphical human-computer interface, hypertext), “as a result these technologies themselves have become the greatest art works of today (p. 15). Would that be like giving credit to the medium (the print magazine) or even the printing press equipment versus the beautifully designed print ad within it? Certainly, Steve Jobs and his team spent a lot of time ensuring not only Apple software but the hardware associated with it were functional and also beautifully designed.

    Manovich says that the human-computer interface comes to act as a new form through which all older forms of cultural production are being mediated (the web browser supplements the cinema screen, a museum space, a CD player, a book, and that really all culture past and present is being filtered through the computer screen and those responsible for this development should be considered todays major modern artists (p. 16).

    The Jenkins article noted that amateur production is on the rise again -- the mass media era saw society become “cultural consumers versus producers”. The new media technologies, particularly social media have provided a means to refashion the 19th century participatory culture, for example, blogging, Facebook and Twitter.

    This article also reminded me of McLuhan’s tetrad theory. For any new media the theory considers what it enhances, makes obsolete, what it retrieves that has been previously lost and what the medium reverses (or flips) when pushed to extremes. In considering social media via cell phones/tablets it retrieves the connectedness of the local community, making it easier to stay in touch with family and friends yet in the same breath people do use new technologies to cut themselves off from people, we don’t talk anymore we text. Is in-person, face-to-face contact becoming obsolete?

    References in addition to links:

    Montfort, N., & Wardrip-Fruin, N. (2003). The new media reader. Cambridge, Mass: MIT Press.

    Rogers, E. (2003) Preface and Chapter 1, Elements of Diffusion. In Diffusion of innovations. Free Press, pp. xv – xx1, and 1-38).

    Winston, B. (1998). Introduction: A storm from paradise – technological innovation, diffusion and suppression. Media technology and society: A history from the telegraph to the internet. New York: Routledge, pp. 1 – 29.

  3. Hi Jess, Sylvia and Gail-Ann. This is my first foray into this course format on the blog so please bear with me :-) I thought I would have formatting ability so I actually did create hyperlinks to a number of the resources I referenced in my posts. I have now learned I don't have that ability. I also learned I had to fall within 4,000 and some characters. I am sorry if I have been too long winded and will look for feedback from Jess -- I actually prefer more informal, shorter posts than what I have done. Just let me know what your word count and formality expectations are and I will try to oblige.