This week we make a shift that is both natural in the way the course has arced so far, but also a major break from what we’ve been thinking about. That’s because, while the cultural impact of digital networked media makes sense as the new medium to discuss next following writing, print, recording, and broadcasting, today we are witnessing the cultural change it is bringing about moment by moment, still forming, still changing. These other media are the “old” media implied by the “new” in new media (David Parry’s arguments from last week notwithstanding).
So to start to get at all the various ways digital networked media are impacting our lives today, I’d like you to start by looking at several framing pieces (listed, as usual, in the mouse-over comment on the Schedule).
- Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think.”
- Lev Manovich, “New Media: A User’s Guide“
- Robin Sloan, “The Moby Dick Variations“
- Andy Baio, “Supercut – Anatomy of a Meme“
The Bush and Manovich are the keys: they lay out several ways digital networked media can be understood as different from forms of mediated communication that have come before. As you read both of these, try to think of as many examples of each principle they discuss as possible. The Sloan and Baio are more contemporary examples of specific applications of some of Bush and Manovich’s ideas that offer some interesting little insights into the nature of digital networked media and the ways they are involved in our changing contemporary culture. As you read them, try to identify in your mind and/or notes which specific concepts from Bush and/or Manovich are most applicable to understanding what each of the other two authors are describing.
This is a big shift, so hopefully if you’re paying close attention to these pieces it will help you shift attention appropriately.