Florian Cramer on Wed, 9 Nov 2005 13:17:19 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> a new definition


> 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.

I don't think this has always been true. McLuhan, for example, already uses the
term "new media" in his writings from the 1960s. And as a thirty-something, I
remember how video and cable TV were commonly referred to as "new media" in the
1980s.  (And "media art" was thought to be more or less synonymous with video art.
Just look at the history of ars electronica and transmediale.) 

But it's symptomatic of new media discourses, of course, that they deny their
history; after all, that's what the term "new" is about.

> > 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.

But new media refer to the new media themselves, not their field of study. One
could say, for example, that the DVD, the iPod, HDTV or P2P networks are (fairly)
new media. To use an analogy: One would not define "literature" as synonymous with
literary studies on the sole grounds that university programs are normally called
- in the anglophone and francophone world - "literature" and not "literature

> 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
> message).

Well, all of this isn't perhaps too surprising. There are a lot of "McGuffin"
terms in the humanities that are frequently used, but remain deliberately un- or
underdefined. Cassirer's "symbolic forms" come to my mind, Foucault's "discourse"
and, well, the term "media" itself.



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