nettime's collective theorists on Mon, 21 Nov 2005 22:47:06 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> Definitions [4x]

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   Re: <nettime> Definitions                                                                                                                   

   Re: <nettime> Definitions                                                                                                                   

   Re: <nettime> a new definition                                                  
     olia lialina <>                                                


Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 07:34:07 EST
Subject: Re: <nettime> Definitions


> i prefer the term digital media. it isn't new anymore.

I prefer the term HIGHLY DIGITAL MEDIA (i.e. HD Media).  It isn't merely digital

The key is the shift from mass to personal.  Mass-media today is digital. 
Personal-media today is highly digital.

Mark Stahlman
New York City


Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 07:57:17 EST
Subject: Re: <nettime> Definitions


Media is our environment -- therefore it has to be described environmentally.

The previous environment was mass-media (aka electric media, beginning with
telegraph in the 1860's) and it was associated with the environment of TOTAL
CONTROL.  Propaganda and brainwashing are among the more important features of a
mass-media environment.  Marxism and Fascism (i.e. "scientific socialism") were
the result of this environment.

The environment began to change in the 1990's.  Initially people attempted to
emulate mass-media with the Internet.  Magazines were a particularly popular
format and eye-catching ads were supposed to pay the way.  When this didn't work,
there was a BUBBLE COLLAPSE.  (If you're interested, refer to my comments on Hot
Wired in July 1996 on this topic.)

Television was the dominant mass medium throughout all of our earlier lifetimes. 
It isn't anymore.

We are now living in a completely new environment.  Mass-media still exists but it
doesn't WORK anymore.  The term "New Media" is just one way of recognizing this
environmental change.  "New Environment" would probably be a better term.

Mark Stahlman
New Media Laboratory
New York City


Date: Sun, 20 Nov 2005 23:57:00 +0100
From: olia lialina <>
Subject: Re: <nettime> a new definition

Andrew Bucksbarg writes
> Let us suppose we can take some steps back and ask exactly what this
> process of cementing a term means.  Is this a territorialization by
> persons or institutions?  What is the intent of this debate or
> claim?  What is the gain?

This process can have different goals. Often it is the search for identification.

Two weeks ago my students visited the software art festival Readme100 and read an
article by Inke Arns "Readme, write me, execute me" and went to a great lecture of
Armin Medosch on romanticism in media art. They were very impressed by the efforts
from software art propagandists are putting into distinguishing Generative and
Software arts and saw it mostly as fight for territory. But in fact it is the
fight for the right understanding of the works (or at least intentions) of the

Another example: In 1996 it was important for net artist to insist on the new term
Net Art*. And on different reasons to distinguish from two others: media art (not
to be a part of it and to stress an antiinstitutional ideal) and web art (to show
that the internet is more than what you can see in the browser). But today I
persist on being a web artist. Whats my intent? To attract attention to the medium
that became invisible routine.

Times and preferences change. And you can see these changes in the way people call
themselves or how they define a field of their work.

Exaggerated attention to words and terms can appear funny, but is a good
alternative to "I'm an artist. This is my vision."

Andrew Bucksbarg writes that there is potential in the indeterminate. Indeed there
is a lot. Until the moment when that indetermination is against your interests.

When in 1999 I started to teach in Merz Akademie, the pathway was called
Interactive Media, since I was invited to bring a different topic, and
interactivity was the least important property of a computer for me, we renamed it
to Interactive Media/Art and Design Online. After some semesters it became clear
that to communicate fully what we are doing we would have to either let the line
grow and add more slashes, or to find another name. New Media was chosen, because
it is broad enough, because it has recognition or at least recoganazibility in
academic circles.

Also because New Media was a maturing field of study that could give to students a
theoretical basis, so they don't have to look for one in cultural studies, media
theory or art history. I'm not trying to announce these fields to be of no
interest or relevance, but I think that artists, designers, developers and
researchers working with digital technologies should be confronted with questions
the digital medium is posing, its history and impact; from a direct perspective,
not through the filters of for example static semiotics, picture analysis etc ...

And indeed indetermination was a big thing for developing the field. Without being
really defined, or being differently interpreted according to teaching and
research interests of particular persons or schools, New Media is developing into
a comprehensive study following both technological invention and cultural
expression. It marries computer science and media theory, computer science and
cultural studies, computer science and literature, and design, and gender studies
(digital culture is polygamic). To be fair, I should note, that it took some time
till New Media theoreticians acknowledged computer science as a basis for their

But I do share's feelings who wrote:

> My feeling is that "new media" is a term that will stick around for a
> while and then eventually die of natural causes and become no more
> than a  genre to describe the hype and hysteria surrounding the
> excitement and  disappointment of all the electronic and computational
> gadgetry and  systems of the mid to late 20th century.

Though I wrote in my first message I never found the word-combination New Media to
be an apt turn, I don't want that it vanishes. This makes me think that at this
moment "cementing" the term would have more potential.

New umbrella terms attack. Creative Industries is one I hear more and more often
(BTW who "coined" it?). Or Post Media. Or Future Environments and others. In the
nearest future the process of renaming departments and faculties will start. On
one hand not a big deal, on another -- it would be a shame if in the process of
renaming and replacing we would lose a field of study that has a huge importance
in forming a critical view on computer technologies as personal, collective and
mass media.

At the same time I have no sympathy to this term as a name for the field of
practices. It is forever discredited by interactive installations and those web
designers who have no respect for their medium and call themselves New Media
workers. But this negative view of mine is not important and can be easily ignored
by those who think that New Media is their media. They should then probably make
some actions to prevent "eventual death".

By redefining the term New Media at
I intended to defend and disarm it at the same time. My wikipedia
demarche is an invitation

- - to ignore the general meaning of the term (anyway it is not formulated)
- - to rescue New Media from the claws of media theory
- - to practitioners not to use this term.

And about McLuhan: In the introduction to New Media for first semester
students I tell them that already in the 60s he was using the term new
media in his writings. And since two years** I tell them that it was
Mark Stahlman "who 'coined' the term NEW MEDIA (circa 1990, in
preparation for the America Online IPO"). And other anecdotes. And I
warn them that there will be always somebody who will say that once
paper was a new media, too.


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