In particular, the context of modernism gives us a theoretical insight into the way in which the media was understood and the ideological impulses which inevitably influenced its critical theories. This type of theoretical approach generally distrusted the media, arguing that its audience needed to be protected from its standardized and debasing influence. A post-industrial sometimes known as a post-Fordist economy is one in which an economic transition has taken place from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy.
This society is typified by the rise of new information technologies, the globalization of financial markets, the growth of the service and the white-collar worker and the decline of heavy industry see Bell These cultural changes can partly be understood as the inevitable by-product of a consumer society, where consumption and leisure now determine our experiences rather than work and production. These changes in post-industrial society have clearly influenced the way that critical theory now understands and conceives the role which the media currently plays in society.
In particular, there has been a discernible shift away from the cultural pessimism that once defined the modernist approach to the media found in the likes of The Frankfurt School. Perhaps the first signs of such a critical shift can be detected in the work of McLuhan. While McLuhan shared many of the modernist anxieties about the ideological influence of the media on a gullible and powerless audience see, for example, his early analysis of the detrimental effects of advertising in The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man , his work often betrayed an enthusiasm and excitement for the media that was seldom detected in modernist critical theory.
This theoretical shift in the conception of the media and its audience was later carried out by much of the work informed by post-structuralism. While structuralism generally reflected the modernist need to uncover the latent ideological meaning embedded in the media text, post-structuralism tends to take a less deterministic view about the nature of the media as a whole.
In particular, the influence of poststructuralist theory on media analysis means that current research has tended to put less emphasis on the way a text is encoded by its producer to the ways in which it is decoded by its receivers see Hall This is a profound step away from the modernist and structuralist conception of the audience as passive cultural dupes, re-imagining them instead as active participants in the production of meaning. As this suggests, crucial to both the postmodern and poststructuralist view of the world is the notion that meaning itself can never be entirely pinned down.
So while modernism tended to search for meaning and truth among the chaos and fragmentation of the modern world, postmodernism appears to accept that the pursuit for such universal truth is futile. Although it may be difficult to conceive of such a theory in a world partly in the grip of religious fundamentalism, the belief in the utopian possibilities of modernism does appear to be contested by what many critics argue is an increasingly cynical Western world. This may help explain why postmodern aesthetics appear to indulge in increased levels of intertextuality, generic hybridity, self-reflexivity, pastiche, parody, recycling and sampling.
According to the philosopher Baudrillard , in a contemporary society the simulated copy has now even superseded the original object. It is not that simply the line between the media image and the real have become blurred; it is more that the media image and the real are now part of the same entity and are therefore now unable to be separated at all.
Dery 6 For some critics, then, such a theoretical framework gives us a new critical arena through which we can start to understand and account for various aspects of New Media. For example, real existing companies now place advertisements in virtual worlds like Second Life, an artificial environment which affects real existing sales. Admittedly, this is an extreme example, but as the sociologist David Holmes points out, it is an illustration of the wider kinds of technological and cultural change that developments in New Media are currently producing: Of the myriad technological and cultural transformations taking place today, one has emerged to provide perhaps the most tangible opportunity for understanding the political and ethical dilemma of contemporary society.
In particular, it has been argued that the increased interactivity of New Media generally allows audiences to play around with and make their own composite identities from various and sometimes even contradictory sources. With so many different communities now open to us on the web, we can begin to simply pick and choose which identities we want to adopt and which ones we want to reject, allowing an individual to decide how they define themselves rather than simply having to stick to the narrow and limited number of choices that once defined the past.
This is in stark contrast to a world where identity is primarily a matter of heritage. This fluid notion of identity certainly appears to be in direct contrast to the concept of citizenship and identity that was propagated by the underpinnings that informed the roots of modernism, particularly a concept like public service broadcasting. As we have seen, the increased interactivity of audiences in a New Media context is also articulated in poststructuralist theory whose tendency is to conceive the audience as active participators in the creation of meaning. Consequently, rather than being seen as essentially commercial and inactive, in a postmodern world consumption itself is now regarded as a positive and participatory act.
Certainly, the idea that a media organization like the BBC could so rigidly dictate public tastes seems almost unimaginable now. As Lev Manovich points out, we may now require a completely new theory of authorship to help us understand the current relationship between the media and its audience, one which fits: perfectly with the logic of advanced industrial and post-industrial societies, where almost every practical act involves choosing from some menu, catalog, or databse. In fact … New Media is the best available expression of the logic of identity in these societies — choosing values from a number of preferred menus.
As voting on the Internet becomes more widespread so it may increase our democratic rights even further see Chapter 9. The postmodern context I have outlined here tends to place New Media in a primarily positive light, as if technology itself is simply opening up increased levels of audience participation, creative involvement and democracy. Even in the West, not all New Media participants are created equal. Critics have also argued that a landscape of postmodernism and New Media are turning citizens of democracies into apolitical consumers, no longer able to distinguish between the simulated illusions of the media and the harsh realities of capitalist society that they implicitly conceal.
As Neil Postman puts it: Our television set keeps us in constant communication with the world, but it does so with a face whose smiling countenance is unalterable. As more and more virtual communities come into being so some critics argue that real relationships and communities are being neglected; the one-to-one human contact on which civilization was based becoming increasingly redundant see Lister et al. Recently, for example, it has come to light that many employers are surreptitiously using websites like MySpace to ascertain the online personality of a future employee see Finder Similarly, it is still hard to conceive the democratization of the media actually taking place in a country like China where Google and Rupert Murdoch seem happy to cooperate with the strict censorship of a non-democratic government in order to gain access to the vast financial potential of the country.
Such thinking, it is argued, inevitably produces a dangerous and unregulated media, where endless hardcore pornography sits alongside chat rooms that prey on the young and the innocent or websites that give voice to extremist political forces see Dean New Media may seem to offer a world of glossy images and limitless communication, but it is also important to keep in mind who and what is left out of its postmodern embrace.
Technological utopianism might suggest that New Media will automatically improve our world for the better, but our future well-being clearly lies in how and what we do with the choices we now have on offer. Conclusion Whatever theoretical point of view you may take about New Media, it is difficult to argue that the media itself has not come under considerable change over the last 20 or 30 years.
We therefore need a new theoretical framework which allows us to understand and appreciate both the positive and negative features of our current media age. As I mentioned at the start of this section, it would be naive to suggest that a methodological and theoretical approach to New Media could ever be drawn up and regarded as definitive, but this section was simply intended to offer a framework through which a number of approaches can be more carefully contextualized and approached.
The theory of New Media is still in its early stages of development and there is much work to do to flesh out and expand some of the basic arguments set out here and elsewhere in the book. However, I hope that what is clear by now is that since its conception, the media has been analysed and examined through a whole plethora of diverse schools, theories and methodologies. Although other chapters in this book might not refer explicitly to modernism or postmodernism, they will clearly offer greater insight into some of the basic theoretical ideas introduced here.
Studies, 2nd edn. London and New York: Arnold. London and New York: Routledge. Thompson, John B. Cambridge: Polity Press. Originally, the term was primarily used in connection with nature; trying to identify the transcendent and timeless aspects of natural beauty. It was only in the eighteenth century that these notions of quality were transferred to the artistic value of art and culture as a whole.
I will start by giving a broad account of the digital landscape, offering insights into the means by which digital culture has transformed both our professional and personal lives. Defining the digital landscape Our first question when defining the digital landscape is: What do digital media look, sound and feel like? Other applications like wireless networks and digital satellite television are transmitted through the air and are effectively invisible, inaudible and cannot be felt.
In fact, as we shall see, what you cannot see is often the most significant thing about digital aesthetics. Nonetheless, digital media normally require the support of some kind of physical device. Typically, these used to resemble small televisions with a typewriter in front of them: devices deriving from the s and s, respectively.
Today, however, digital devices come in all shapes and sizes.
- Understanding New Media.
- Praise the Lord God Almighty, from Seventy-Nine Chorales, Op. 28, No. 53;
- Who We Are.
- Beyond the Tomb!
- Differences Between New Media and Mass Media.
- Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgery:The Essentials(With DVD-ROM);
Most of these devices sport screens, and most of them have some kind of input device — mouse, stylus, keypad, click-wheel — but some have only one e. At the turn of the millennium, there was much talk in the industry of the convergence of all these widgets in one super widget, a portable device that would include a camera, MP3 player, mobile phone and personal assistant, that would link up with a master computer at home or work, but market trends seem to demonstrate that people like to have dedicated machines for each of these functions, even though many phones now come with the capacity to take videos and photos and play back music.
Unfortunately, many of our devices are incompatible.
Each mobile phone company has its own proprietorial format for video, for example; few of which work with the standard computer formats. And synchronizing portable devices with domestic computers can be a high-risk activity especially in multi-computer households, or where the blurring distinctions between work and home mean that an individual has two or three computers to work with.
One problem here is the issue of software compatibility.
All digital devices have as a basic design structure some kind of input device, a central processing unit, some memory and some kind of output. To make these work, the device requires a set of instructions: software. Though many manufacturers make applications for numerous operating systems, and try to maintain a similar look-and-feel to their operation regardless of what kind of machine they run on, under the bonnet there are substantial differences.
These become especially apparent in networked processes, where a file has to be passed between users using different operating systems or even different versions of the same operating system. As we have already suggested, digital media have inherited legacies from previous generations of media like the typewriter and the television. Television itself can be understood in a longer history beginning with the cinema, a public building for social viewing. One source of this dynamic is the origin of ubiquitous computing in what is sometimes called the second office revolution.
Extending Marshall McLuhan – Second Edition
The first office revolution was accompanied by New Media and new devices: the typewriter, the adding machine, the filing cabinet, the rolodex and the slide-rule. The skills of double-entry bookkeeping and copperplate handwriting were replaced swiftly with typescript and word processing, adding machines and spreadsheets. This rapid deskilling see Braverman meant that office work could be less well paid, opening the doors to women workers, who were less likely to have high levels of education, less likely to unionize, and more likely to leave to bear children, meaning they had fewer expectations of a career structure.
The other characteristic of the office is the division of the workforce, leading to the development of the individual workstation as a typical factor in computer design, further encouraging the individualization of public, domestic and now personal entertainment. Anyone who has attempted to work on a shared computer will recognize that they are not designed for multiple users or social use. Deriving from this legacy of office provision, the typical screen interface for computers remains the desktop metaphor. Such defining structures as file hierarchies seem to derive from exactly the same root.
Thus, digital editing programs imitate film editing suites; image manipulation software mimics photographic darkrooms. It could also be argued that the design aesthetics of computers have followed slavishly the hierarchies and work discipline of the nineteenth-century office.
A key response to the desocializing aspect of computing has been the massive expansion in networked services, notably following the release of Mosaic, the first mass-release web browser, in The first generation of browsers borrowed their names from the idealistic vision of cyberspace as endless frontier see Barlow  : Navigator, Explorer, Safari. Skilled users could always escape the carefully marshalled shopfronts of their Internet service providers, and it was skilled users who tended to write the influential emails, articles and books.
Software critique would have to wait almost a decade before it became a key part of the intellectual landscape see Fuller , The Internet, which includes the World Wide Web, email services, bulletin boards BBS , file-transfer services, many only partially public subscription services, and is in effect a network of networks, whence its name, is an iceberg: four-fifths of it or more lie hidden below the surface.
A global network of telecommunications cables and satellites and switching stations, millions of computers, at least 15 major organizations charged with maintaining and developing technical standards and hundreds of other players working on everything from intellectual property rights to the protection of children are all involved in making decisions about how the system works.
True to the Californian roots of much of the computer industry see Barbrook and Cameron , Internet governance has been a mixture of freewheeling innovation and entrepreneurship. But as the Internet becomes a key infrastructure for global commerce, politics and communication, those who have traditionally been excluded from the elite decision-making processes of computer and telecoms engineers, especially those outside the industrial West, have begun to demand a say. Meanwhile, the American government has been successfully lobbied by entertainment and software giants to prioritize the protection of intellectual property rights, convinced that as American manufacturing decays in the competition with Asia, films, television, music, games and software will replace it as the growth engine of the economy.
The current battleground is Internet Protocol version six IPv6 , the software that allows different computers to talk to each other. Far from the vistas of infinite freedom scented by Barlow and the Electronic Freedom Foundation, the Internet is rapidly becoming a highly and rigidly commercial domain. Against this utopian vision are ranged some darker fears.
This dialectic of excitement and trepidation over emergent media has a long history too: the digital media are being treated much as comics were in the s, television in the s, cinema was in the s, and cheap newspapers and magazines were in the s. Digital characteristics What then is new about New Media?
Terry Flew 28 isolates some of the key qualities at the macro-scale of their articulation with major social changes: digitization and convergence; interactivity and networks; virtuality and globalization. From the much more restricted vantage point of the aesthetics of computers as experienced by the end-users of software, Lev Manovich identifies five characteristics: 1 2 3 4 5 numerical representation; modularity the principle of assembling larger units from smaller ones ; automation; variability; transcoding the relationship between computing and everyday cultures.
These approaches, and the many more that have been offered defining the distinguishing characteristics of digital aesthetics, offer highly recognizable facets of the phenomenon. We all recognize a digital animation by its sharply defined edges, lustre and spatial sophistication; we recognize computer graphics by their saturated colours, high gloss, use of mathematical and geometrical motifs; and we can mostly tell a digital special effect from a physical one like a real stunt. For his film Princess Mononoke , Myazaki commissioned a new piece of software, Toonshader, which would give his digital animations the look of traditional handpainted anime — increasingly, digital tools are used to disguise their own use.
And since so much medical and scientific imagery, from ultrasound scans to Hubble Space Telescope images, are digitally gathered, treated and disseminated, the idea that the connection with reality has been broken is premature. The problem can be put like this. Digital aesthetics, like any other form of aesthetics, has to respond to the material qualities of the media it investigates. An aesthetics of painting would look at brushwork, colour, depth and consistency of the paint and so on.
But digital aesthetics has the uncomfortable job of looking at many things, from celnets to Internet governance, that simply cannot be seen or touched. And where products are produced digitally, we often have no clues left that they were made that way; and many digital tools, like the dozen or more computers in a contemporary car, are tucked away where the driver cannot see them. A second problem is that there is no single digital aesthetic, in the way one could imagine a single aesthetic of painting.
Old school digital games like Super Mario Bros are different to the latest releases. Flash animations have one aesthetic, and locative media the artistic use of mobile technologies in a defined geographical area another one entirely. The aesthetic of electronic music is different to that of the digital engineers recording a classical quartet. The aesthetic appreciation of a clever text message bears little relation to our enjoyment of the latest Pixar animation or a particularly elegant piece of coding in open source. What kinds of principle, then, can we bring to bear?
Among those that have the longest track record is the aesthetic principle that a whole be more than the sum of its parts. This presents two difficulties for digital aesthetics. First, the digital domain is far too vast to ever be seen as a whole, even by whole populations, since much of it is person to person digital phone calls, SMS, email and much of it is privately owned and protected bank accounts, whole areas of digital publishing. The nineteenth-century Romantic aesthetic of organic unity holds little more hope, partly because the metaphor of an organism seems mismatched to the complex technological infrastructure of the digital domain; and partly because our fragmented experience of modernity does not encourage faith in overarching unifications.
The early twentieth-century principle of montage aesthetics looks a more likely candidate, but too easily slips from meaningful juxtapositions to meaningless jumble, and is in any case as characteristic of advertising as it is of fine art. Other contenders offer themselves. Much of the utopian discourse about network media laid claim to a renewal of democracy, away from the orgy of voting followed by long periods of mis representation, and towards participation on a daily basis.
This democratic aesthetic will make more sense, however, if we extend it beyond the human realm of social relations. In our dealings with machines since the beginning of history, human beings have enslaved technology, demanding that it do what we want.
Understanding New Media – a quick overview
Increasingly artists and technologists are developing machines which have the capacity to evolve in their own ways, from game engines to robots. The digital aesthetics that emerge in the next century will have to involve both technologies and, as bio-computing becomes a reality, our eco-system in a democratic dialogue. In the end, there is no single or simple digital aesthetics, but there is or can be a digital ethics. A whole new vernacular has developed from its myriad forms that underline its pervasive influence and its normalization in our lives.
Marshall 45 My aim in this chapter is to explore, in broad brush terms, the Internet and the World Wide Web as socio-technical phenomena integral to understanding New Media. This notion inevitably taps into long-running academic debates about the sociology of science and technology. In the late s, various experiments in networked communication were being carried out, for various purposes, all driven by a shared enthusiasm to find new uses of emergent technologies in computation and telecommunications.
These strands are often divergent in their aim, but share at root a belief in networked computers as a tool for progress however that may have been configured. Software also presents the Internet to us, in terms of the interface on the computer screen that visualizes the Internet in particular ways. These were once primarily textual, but are now truly multimedia, combining text, sound, still and moving images — in short, content. And the Internet is also an imaginative, even imaginary space, filled up with ideas and experiences, fear and excitement, banality and wonder.
The Web also has a well-known origin story, too: it was developed by Tim Berners-Lee, a scientist working in a mega-laboratory called CERN, where boffins collide miniscule bits of matter in an effort to uncover the ultimate building blocks of life, the universe and everything. Berners-Lee was working to solve some problems at CERN to do with scientists sharing and accessing information, and he ended up writing a program that turned the Internet into a publishing medium via, to reiterate Gauntlett, a user-friendly interface.
This means that all kinds of material is made available, can be stored on and accessed from any type of computer providing it has the necessary computing power and connections , thanks to the use of a common computer language, Hypertext Markup Language or HTML. This really powers the Web, in that it is a way of connecting collections of data, such as web pages, together. So, the World Wide Web is a key way of accessing, managing, connecting, producing and consuming information over the Internet. While there are other significant uses of the Internet, notably email, most of the time most of us are using it to access the World Wide Web.
Yet, as I have argued before see Bell , we have to think about more nuts and bolts, wires and chips, bits and bytes: we have to think about the symbolic and experiential aspects of being online. Cyberspace and Cyberculture are among the terms used to capture these additional dimensions of the Internet and the World Wide Web.
The word cyberspace has yet another well-known story behind it; it is taken from a science fiction sf novel, a key text in a subgenre of sf called cyberpunk: Neuromancer by William Gibson. Gibson was captivated watching young people playing arcade computer games, marvelling at the level of immersion he saw — the way they were so involved in a game taking place on a screen, but experienced bodily.
Once inside, users could pass along the network and access the databanks, which ranged before them like skyscrapers. For a while, especially in the s, cyberspace was a useful short-hand term to describe those understandings and encounters. But what kinds of experience are therefore produced and consumed?
What, in short, are we doing when we are using the Net and the Web? We can build a tidy list of actual and possible uses, though this is a notoriously time-sensitive list, as new uses pop up with amazing or alarming frequency. It can be used to send and receive information in a number of formats, including text, still and moving images, and sound. It can be used to buy and sell things, to find new friends or lovers, to find out about practically anything, to tell other people about yourself and your world … Already, as you can see, this list is getting pretty busy.
And users have become very sophisticated in the way they use all the Internet has to offer, spinning new uses out all the time. Some of these uses are preset or configured into the Internet or its offshoots, but others are more or less unintended. Email was initially seen as little more than an add-on to the main work of the Internet, which was sharing access to computers to make more efficient use of their processing power; yet, email has become an almost ubiquitous communications medium — too ubiquitous, if tales of email overload and email addiction are anything to go by.
Nevertheless, uses like email have become so stitched in to the fabric of everyday life for millions of users, making it commonplace to the point of banality. But there is also a history to the uses of the Internet and the World Wide Web; or, rather, a set of histories: some are histories of power, others talk of resistance.
From its early days in the military and scientific communities, the diffusion of the Internet has always been caught between these two trajectories; one towards greater openness and freedom, the other towards greater control and dominance. This wave of debate was followed in the late s by a period when many commentators feared that cyberspace was about to be taken over, colonized by corporate capitalism.
Of course, the dot. Then something else began to happen. Some online businesses carried doggedly on, weathered the dot. Internet shopping has reshaped the high street and the shopping experience of many of us, for better or for worse Zukin Sites like eBay, founded in , rose to prominence, and at times notoriety, as places where anything and everything could be bought and sold, and a paperclip could be traded for a house Hillis et al.
At the same time, a new generation of innovators was looking for killer applications for extant and emerging technologies. In , a site called Napster was created by Shawn Fanning to enable his fellow students to share music recorded as audio files stored on their PC hard drives. Such informal sharing was labelled peer-to-peer P2P to indicate the lack of commercial involvement. Napster quickly caught on, and was equally quickly attacked by the music industry for infringement of copyright.
Yet Napster and other sites like it had already changed for ever the way recorded music is distributed, kick-starting music downloading and setting the scene for the iconic iPod and the attendant new cultures of music acquisition, distribution and sharing — Napster had picked up on a long-running ethical debate running through the Internet: who owns information?
The passive web surfer, who for a while resembled a shopping zombie, had turned into someone new: someone who was not just after a bargain, or some free tunes to download, but who wanted to build social spaces around these activities. Which brings us to the latest buzz around the Internet: the rise or return of social networking online.
Debates from the mids about virtual community are strangely absent from the current social media hype — a hype epitomized when Time magazine used a mirrored cover to display its person of the year for That person is … you. They are part of some broader transformations in the overall New Media landscape; transformations such as convergence and multi-platform intertextuality see Harries Convergence refers to bits of media becoming indistinguishable — whether those bits are bits of content, bits of the industry or whatever.
Convergence happens when media hybridize and recombine, as when movies are distributed over the Internet to download, or podcasts of radio shows can be listened to on an MP3 player or via a PC. So, there is convergence in terms of delivery and devices, in terms of the tools and places we use to access content — such that watching a film on a computer screen is no longer considered weird.
Like the hyperlinks connecting web pages, these intertexutal links form a complex web of associations of content Harries A site like YouTube founded in is a perfect illustration of this content convergence. So the site now offers clips of all kinds, with all sorts of origin, without distinguishing on the basis of genre, production values, platform, whatever.
YouTube evidences new forms of content creation, novel ways of distribution, and changing patterns of media consumption. And there were countless opportunities for me to have my say, to comment, to link up with other fans of the show or any of the actors in it. Experiments in ambient or ubiquitous computing, for example, project the virtual onto the real, so that we encounter the Internet, say, not just on a computer screen but on a street corner Galloway And as access to the Internet and the World Wide Web becomes more mobile, untied from the desktop, so we can begin to experience and encounter cyberspace literally all over the place.
So, convergence in terms of devices Web-linked phones also brings divergence in terms of media or cyber spaces, and in terms of reconnecting users via the interface. As with arguments about other forms of social media, here we see a story of connectivity between users enabled by new technology. New gaming applications illustrate this enfolding especially vividly, layering physical and virtual landscapes for players.
Clearly, therefore, there are profound implications for the multiple users of these environments. Re Thinking social media As scholars begin to write not only the histories of the Internet and the World Wide Web but also the histories of academic study of the Internet and the World Wide Web, so they begin to discern patterns, phases, hot topics and fads. The first strand includes journalistic accounts of experiences online, branched into utopian and dystopian forms.
The former is best exemplified by the establishment of new magazines discussing cyberspace, such as Wired, while the latter often took the form of populist books offering portents of doom about the digital age. We are arguably largely still in this third stage, though the terrain has been complicated both by trends in the technologies and their uses, and by internal debates about what to name this thing of ours and therefore how to go about thinking about it.
While this might seem a bit casual, it rightly reflects the current state of play in net and web research: an openness to trying different techniques, to mixing methods, rather than a desire to fix a gold standard. It seems likely, nonetheless, that the close attention to detail shown in ethnographic studies of Internet use, such as that carried our by Bakardjieva , will continue to prove popular and fruitful. New theories and new methods can, in fact, together fittingly form a new agenda for research into New Media as socio-technical assemblage: Media Studies 2.
Recommended reading Abbate, Janet Inventing the Internet. London: Sage Publications. London: Routledge. Burnett, Robert and Marshall, P. David Web Theory: An Introduction. Gauntlett, David and Horsley, Ross eds Web. London: Edward Arnold. Marshall, P. David New Media Cultures. The origins of Web 2. He intended that every web browser would be able to edit pages, not just read them. Those of us who made our own web pages back in those days spent a lot of time and effort perfecting them in terms of both design and content. So, why on earth would we want other people to come along and muck up our work?
It seemed like a bizarre prospect. A wiki is a website that any visitor can add to, and amend, using a normal web browser. Wikipedia did not invent the concept, and was not the first wiki, but within a few months of its launch in , it was by far the most widely recognized wiki in the world. Alongside each wiki page, there is a discussion page, and a history of all edits, so that its development is transparent.
If a page is vandalized — or amended in a way you happen to disagree with — it can be restored to a former version, via the history page. Wikipedia grew out of Nupedia —03 , a free online encyclopaedia written by experts, set up by Jimmy Wales and Larry Sanger. It was like handing in an essay at grad school, and basically intimidating to participate in. Wales says: Our idea was very radical: that every person on the planet would have access to an open-source, free online work that was the sum of all human knowledge.
Within about two weeks I knew it was going to work. By that time we already had more articles online than we had in nearly two years with Nupedia. Marks 44 In , Wales founded the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization, and donated Wikipedia to it; an act intended to secure its noncommercial future. When I first drafted this article in February , Wikipedia had over six million articles in languages, including 1. Over 75, people had made more than five edits during the previous month, January , while many thousands more will have been less frequent contributors.
By April , Wikipedia had expanded to over ten million articles in languages, including 2. In any case, it is one of the obvious flaws of print publishing that these figures will be out of date by the time you read this. Wikipedia greatly benefits from the passion and expertise of enthusiasts in thousands of scientific, technical, hobby, craft and pop culture topics. Because communities of enthusiasts collaborate to create encyclopaedia-style factual articles about their area of interest, a kind of frenzy of friendly but competitive fascination tends to generate precise and carefully composed articles on every subject.
This is clearly the opposite of Web 2. Furthermore, unlike its rival, Wikipedia gets substantially better every month, and we can reasonably expect that it is now far better than it was in In fact what Wikipedia presages is a change in the nature of authority. Prior to Britannica, most encyclopaedias derived their authority from the author. Britannica came along and made the relatively radical assertion that you could vest authority in an institution. You trust Britannica, and then we in turn go out and get the people to write the articles. What Wikipedia suggests is that you can vest authority in a visible process.
And that is a really profound challenge to our notions of what it means to be an institution, what it means to trust something, what it means to have authority in this society. Shirky For those who feel that society has become fundamentally decadent, antisocial, selfish and doomed, the flourishing world of Wikipedia offers a strong suggestion that this may not be the case.
Instead, here we see people spending many hours collaborating on building an accessible resource for others, for very little personal reward. Certainly, some people may gain a sense of not purely altruistic well-being from having the opportunity to show off their knowledge, but Wikipedia contributors get nothing more than occasional kudos from other contributors. Of course, contributing to the site may also fulfil the basic human need to feel a part of a community, and provide a sense of belonging.
The authors of books and articles, such as this one, are incredibly vain and isolated by comparison. Fancy putting your name on it! Wikipedia embodies an optimistic ethos which, to the dismay of committed cynics, actually seems to work. At any particular moment, there may be an instance of vandalism happening somewhere within the millions of articles, but these are usually soon corrected by others.
The encyclopaedia always aspires to have articles unprotected.
Understanding New Media : Robert K. Logan :
Currently, fully protected articles include passive smoking, Steffi Graf and surrealism! The semi-protected list includes more predictable targets such as George W. On the whole, though, an incredible majority of Internet users seem to respect the Wikipedia project, and either do not have — or manage to resist — the unhelpful urge to spoil it. Straightforward vandalism is easily spotted. But, as with many criticisms of Wikipedia, the answer is simply that over time these things are corrected or balanced.
Controversial topics attract people with axes to grind, but then those people are forced into dialogue with others, and a balanced presentation of different viewpoints is arrived at. But the passionate collective sounds like quite a good bet too. It might seem to be a worry that Wikipedia is one big, singular, successful thing. The answer to this is a strong no, because of the fundamental difference in nature between a profitmaking corporation with a small set of elite owners and shareholders, versus a collaborative non-commercial encyclopaedia produced by everybody.
The more people use and contribute to Wikipedia, the better it gets. This has been taken up by scholars as a kind of ideal model of how the media should work in society, fostering valuable social discussion and keeping a check on the power of the state. Previously, however, this argument had to be focused on news media and journalism, and there was not really much sign of it happening. On the contrary, rivalry between politicians and political parties, along with competition between journalists and media companies, meant that the public sphere was characterized by unresolved conflict, rather than consensus, on the levels of both big social issues and trivial personality clashes.
The Internet could bring people together in a discussion which they otherwise might not have had, but unsurprisingly, perhaps did not seem to be able to steer them towards any kind of agreement. Wikipedia, however, may offer a solution. Wikipedia is actually notable as a means of coming to agree on controversy, and has been studied by some researchers for its ability to neutralize the often noxious debates on such topics.
The corollary of this particular debate is that the article is far more complete than it would otherwise have been, and certainly makes the point far more accurately than certain other encyclopaedias we could mention. Wikipedia This suggests that the site where thousands of people come together to collaboratively build an online encyclopaedia may have produced, for the first time, an electronically enabled version of the public sphere that Habermas was talking about see Chapter 9. This is just one example of the kind of transformation that Wikipedia is suggesting to people in a number of fields.
Ultimately, as we have seen, Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the World Wide Web, can take the credit for this, as his vision for creative and collaborative communication has shaken up so much: not simply making the Internet into a powerful tool, but setting off an earthquake with powerful effects across all of art, media, science, society and communication. They are the dispersal of digital media — from computers to cell phones to digital television to the Internet — and the convergence of formerly separate media brought about by the digital revolution.
Both of these are important factors in the development of digital television. Analogue media rely on a physical replica or analogue of a physical phenomenon, like sound or pictures, that can be transmitted or preserved through some kind of physical medium; whether it is magnetic signals on a tape, electronic waves transmitted through the spectrum, or chemical changes on a strip of celluloid. Digitization — in production, distribution and reception — transformed traditional media, starting in the mids: in satellite communications, in recording technology, in a new generation of television sets, in cable television, in radio and television broadcasting, and many more.
Industrial convergence soon followed.
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They threaten to break down the borders of older media, and challenge old structures of ownership, control, content and audience uses as well. They make some things easier — like sharing various forms of media across national and intellectual property barriers, and some things harder — like protecting privacy and figuring out who will pay. This chapter discusses these histories, technologies and debates in turn, beginning with the origins of digital television.
This was a technology developed in Japan that promised to greatly improve the quality of the television image by increasing the definition, or number of scanning lines, of the picture, using analogue methods. It also rearranged the aspect ratio of the screen, from the boxy 4 to 3 ratio of traditional television to a more cinemascope-like 16 to 9, allowing movies to be shown on home television sets in their usual proportions, without cropping the picture or having to letterbox it.
Japan became the first country to initiate regular HDTV broadcasts in The prospect of HDTV made a particular impact in the USA, which has always had a poorer quality television standard NTSC than most of the rest of the world, having settled for a line picture — each television image is electronically scanned, back and forth, times top to bottom — instead of the higher quality line PAL standard prevalent elsewhere. This meant that HDTV could not be broadcast over the television channels now assigned to US broadcasters; they would need a new, bigger frequency in order to successfully broadcast HDTV to the public.
The public, meanwhile, would have to invest in new HDTV sets in order to receive such an image. The National Association of Broadcasters, the leading industry trade group, appealed to the Federal Communications Commission FCC to hold off on letting the spectrum space go, since it would be needed if HDTV were to have a chance in this country.
The US government, worried about Japanese domination of the electronics manufacturing industry, wanted to encourage the development of homegrown US high-definition technology, rather than becoming dependent on Japan. It agreed to reserve the UHF frequencies for television, if US broadcasters and manufacturers could come up with a workable competitive technology Hilmes With new digital technology — homegrown in Silicon Valley — a much higher definition television picture could be produced, as good or better than the Japanese MUSE technology that had started the whole thing off.
By , US manufacturers had come up with the strategic Grand Alliance standard, representing a technical compromise between the competing needs of different industry segments that could handle a variety of digital high-definition formats with varying degrees of resolution, pixel density, frame rates and scanning methods. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the Grand Alliance: it dawned on everyone that, with digital technology, you can do many more things with that spectrum space than simply provide beautifully clear pictures. One advantage of digital is that its signals can be compressed, so that it is possible to transmit up to six standard definition television signals SDTV in an existing broadcast frequency, all of them with as good or better clarity than existing television images a single cable channel could carry 12 or more!
This was called multiplexing. Each holder of an existing television license was given, free of charge, a new channel assignment on the UHF spectrum large enough to be used for fully fledged HDTV. They would also be allowed to keep their old channels in the VHF band and continue broadcasting in analogue, since the transition to digital television would take a while; for many years, some consumers would only be able to receive old-fashioned, standard broadcast signals on their old sets.
In return, broadcasters agreed to begin terrestrial digital broadcasting in By — by which time, it was assumed, HDTV sets would have reached 85 per cent penetration of US homes an overly optimistic projection, it turned out — broadcasters would have to return their old frequencies in the VHF or UHF spectrum to the federal government to be auctioned off to fill treasury coffers. But the big US networks, and several cable channels, began limited high-definition digital broadcasting as scheduled in , and by the end of those in the top 30 markets had gone partially digital, even though few consumers had the ability to receive the signals.
Cable television seized its broadband advantage and introduced digital cable in , though mostly in multiplexed form — high-definition television would take longer. Satellite television DBS had begun transmitting digitally in and initiated high definition in Digital television launched across western Europe in as well, both by satellite and by terrestrial land-based antenna distribution.
By it discontinued analogue and signed up its five millionth subscriber. Currently, over 50 channels serve the British public, most of them at no extra cost and many of them with interactive capacities. In the next few years most European countries would introduce the new technology and formats, spreading eventually around the world. Luxembourg became the first country to complete digital switchover, in , with many others planned for and Digital switchover in the UK is planned for Their equally easy transmission through various digital means, like the web or digital disc, means that each time a song or a film or a television show is downloaded as an MP-3 file or burned or purchased, it essentially produces another original Vaidyanathan This has led to the incendiary battles over file sharing — the transmission of digital files from one individual to another — starting with Napster in and moving on to various other venues.
The USA, one of the biggest producers of media distributed — often illegally — around the world, passed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act in in an attempt to control unauthorized downloading of intellectual property. Many other nations also adopted such legislation, but in some areas of the world, most notably China, digital piracy continues with abandon. Digital media also permit a higher degree of interactivity than possible with analogue media.
DVDs permit viewers to modify their viewing experience in all manner of ways, from selecting different languages to substituting director or other creative commentary on the soundtrack. Digital video recorders DVRs , like TiVo, encourage not only detachment from the television schedule but from the very economics of commercial media, as viewers blithely skip past the advertisements.
Web-based video, though still in its infancy, allows viewers to become producers and distributors, posting their own or acquired video on sites such as YouTube, or downloading often illegally distributed television programmes and films through services such as BitTorrent. These qualities of reproducibility and interactivity have made their mark on every aspect of television: production, transmission and reception.
The rest of this chapter discusses these in turn, focusing on the ways that digital television shifts the boundaries that applied to analogue media, creating convergence not only among applications and industries, but across cultures as well. Production Digital video production can be traced back to professional formats in the mids, notably the Sony Digital Betcam, which made its debut in With the launch of inexpensive and relatively easy-to-use digital linear editing systems in the late s, such as AVID, Final Cut Pro, Adobe Premiere, and the like, along with digital Mini-DV camcorders, digital video production slipped the bounds of professional studios and moved into the living rooms, bedrooms, backyards and offices of the general population.
A mass consumption of a particular product can lead to isolation, segregation, stereotypes and discrimination. If society is prepared to function as a system under the concept of globalisation, those who are unable to access technology and can be left detached from the whole process and therefore being oppressed by the dominant forces.
The digital era marks a new time in human history. We do not know for sure where it all will lead, what will be the new developments and how it will affect us in a long term process. We are still understanding the new technological era and its implications on society and human interaction. However, the technological age has proven so far that we are able to adapt and change behaviours in order to instore knowledge. Sage Publications, Volume Number ; Volume 24, Number pp. About Caio Domingues. McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: the Extensions of Man. McGraw Hill, New York.
Siapera, Eugenia. Understanding New Media.