olia lialina on Sun, 6 Nov 2005 23:48:35 +0100 (CET)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: <nettime> a new definition

Florian Cramer wrote:

> Before her edit, the article said:
> | New media usually refers to a group of relatively recent mass media
> | based on new information technology. It is based on computing technology
> | and not reducible to communication in a traditional sense. Most
> | frequently the label would be understood to include the Internet and
> | World Wide Web, video games and interactive media, CD-ROM and other
> | forms of multimedia popular from the 1990s on. The phrase came to
> | prominence in the 1990s, and is often used by technology writers like
> | those at Wired magazine and by scholars in media studies.
> [...]
> While this is not perfect, it's not a bad text either. 

Sorry to insist, but this text is "bad".

The first two sentences can sound reasonable in the context of media study,
communicating that -- in the opinion of media study -- the New Medium WWW and the
New Medium Video Games have mass media potential. The following very abstract
"interactive media and other forms of multimedia" are meaningless satellites of
the term without any connection to mass media.

But my problem with this definition is not that it is vague -- in this case I'd
edit it, replacing interactive media with "&nbsp;" and CD-Rom with iPod. My
problem is that this definition is irrelevant.

Because New media does not "usually refer" to relatively recent mass media. It
does not "usually refer" to mass media discourse. It refers to the digital medium:
computer, computer networks. And unfortunately to "interactive media and other
forms of multimedia" when it comes to giving definitions.

> Olia completely deleted it and replaced it with:
> | New Media is the field of study that has developed around cultural
> | practices with the computer playing a central role as the medium for
> | production, storage and distribution.
> | 
> | New Media studies reflect on the social and ideological impact of the
> | personal computer, computer networks, digital mobile devices, ubiquitous
> | computing and virtual reality. The study includes researchers and
> | propagators of new forms of artistic practices such as interactive
> | installations, net art, software art, the subsets of interaction,
> | interface design and the concepts of interactivity, multimedia and
> | remediation.
> The whole entry, IMHO, is based on a confusion of the term "new media"
> with "new media studies" and should have been a separate article with
> the according title.

It is not a confusion, it is my statement, that the term New Media as a name for a
field of studies is the only meaningful appearance of this term.

When it comes to artistic or design practices, terms like "digital culture",
"mobile computing", "net art", "interface design" or even "information
architecture" describe precisely the field of activity.

"New media artist", "New media worker", "New media design" are quite blurry terms.

At the same time New Media department of an academy, New Media Reader, New Media
teacher are reasonable constructions, because they are associated with a maturing
study, that is btw not at all a subdivision of Media Studies.

New Media is not a perfect name for a study as well. But it has some adequate
properties I mentioned in the wikipedia article*.

And again, as I wrote in my last nettime message, my intention is that the term

It was quite embarrassing to watch the Refresh conference** and see how curators
and theoreticians are again and again fantasizing on what is New Media and how new
it is, and what is old (as if the term New Media contains in itself an implication
to other, not digital media to unite under an "Old Media" banner -- but this is
another topic).

After watching Refresh streams I looked in The Language of New Media book for the
definition -- it was not there. I looked in New Media Reader. The Term was not
defined. I looked in Wikipedia -- after you know (see the beginning of the

Thank you for your time


*  http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=New_media&oldid=27098010
** http://www.banffcentre.ca/bnmi/events/refresh/

A blog from a cryogenic box http://frozen-niki.org/

#  distributed via <nettime>: no commercial use without permission
#  <nettime> is a moderated mailing list for net criticism,
#  collaborative text filtering and cultural politics of the nets
#  more info: majordomo@bbs.thing.net and "info nettime-l" in the msg body
#  archive: http://www.nettime.org contact: nettime@bbs.thing.net