An Extension of Man?

Initial Thoughts

New media is, at its core, interactive media.  The emergence of the broad term came with the emergence of the computers and the immense amount of changes that humanity faced technologically.

What I find interesting is that computers and new media emerged after the world wars, not in the 80’s, as I had always thought.  I also find it interesting that the binary viewpoint on the advancement of computers and machines has not really changed.  It still remains the question of “just because we can, does it mean we should?”

I also find it interesting that, in the first article that we read, computers and, subsequently, the new mediums that they brought forth were considered an “extension of man” by one of the pioneers.  To me, this means that we use technology as an extension of our own consciousness and it’s an extension of what we are already capable of.

The second article really helped me to understand new media more than I had before.  New media is not cyberculture.  It is not the social interactions that take place over the internet.   It is, rather, “concerned with cultural objects and paradigms enabled by all forms of computing and not just by networking” (Manovich 8).  To me, this means that the software, the art, the websites themselves, the interface, et cetera are all new media, while things like Facebook or Skyrim are more cyberculture.

After reading the articles, I find myself a bit more confused than I was before, but also with a better understanding of what new media is, if possible.  Knowing the history of its origins makes it easier to understand and define, to me, but I’m still unsure and confused.

Real-World Application/research

One thing that the articles did help me realize, though, is how much new media is changing our world.  Already, technology that was once new and amazing is now obsolete.  Traditional media is now having to accommodate for new media.  The hardest-hit are the news industries, who are now having to make online versions of their papers or news services available to the public, mostly for free.  People don’t want information to take forever to find.  They want it when they want it.  Immediacy is a must.

In this article from The Guardian (, Richard Sambrook told them that “if you believe you are in competition with the internet, you need to find your way out.”  Journalism is now having to adapt to the ever-growing need from consumers to have their news immediately, and a lot of magazines and news sites find themselves also having a link to social media (which would have been argued as now being a part of cyberculture in the second article we read).

Citizen journalism, according to The Guardian is on the rise and social media provides a platform for which citizens to report their own news.  Many local news stations (even the one I use back home, WYFF4) have the option for citizens to upload tips and photographs or videos for news stories.

New media is changing the world we live in and how we receive our information.  It’s both frightening and exhilarating.   Already the article from The Guardian is almost four years out of date.  Who can predict the way new media will change our world four, five, ten years from now?


One thought on “An Extension of Man?

  1. This whole “new media” -vs. “cyber-culture” distinction that Manovich makes, whereby “new media” is the mechanism by which “cyber-culture” is proliferated, or whatever, seems to me to be a menial and unnecessary distinction. He goes to great lengths, as Aaron pointed out, to make a distinction between “old media’s” development of different “lenses” with which to view the world, and “new media’s” manipulation of those lenses, without creating anything new. Manovich’s distinction between “new ways of seeing the world” and “”new ways of expressing existing observations.about the world,” just seems to me to be rather pointless. He, of course, creates this whole “new media” vs “cyber culture” thing simply to pre-empt opposition to what appears to me to be a specious argument. I’m not arguing that there is no distinction at all, but that it’s trivial, hair-splitting, and not very useful.

    Cyber culture, like computer-mediated communication, virtual reality “worlds,” social media platforms, this very comment, for example, according to Manovich does not fall within the realm of “new media.” According to his distinction, as Aaron points out, “new media” is just a new way of manipulating what already is, and does not represent anything original. I disagree: there are all sorts of ways of understanding reality that absolutely were not possible before now. Before now, I couldn’t have regular chats with folks halfway around the globe to gauge global responses to current events in anything like a timely manner. I suppose there was ‘sorta’ the option of the telephone, but until recently (before Skype), international long-distance was prohibitively expensive. So, until Twitter and so forth, all we could know about things that were going on elsewhere in the world was whatever the “big players” decided to tell us.

    A great example of this very real and fundamental sea-change is the Occupy Wall Street protest, which got basically NO “mainstream media” attention for over a week, until there was a distracting story to allow for the refocusing of the public’s attention from the injustices that were being protested to the unconstitutional suppression of the protests themselves. Even the BBC, explained my friend Julie in Scotland, was ignoring the entire movement’s existence… it wasn’t until the “viral” spread of live feed links on Twitter that much of anybody outside the immediate area knew it was even going on). That’s not just “repackaging” what already is: it’s a completely novel way of viewing reality.

    I suppose there’s “some” distinction between the two, but they seem to be so inextricably bound together and share such a “chicken-egg” existence as to be inseparable, that it doesn’t seem like a very useful distinction to me. I suppose if you’re going to insist on such terms, then both should be considered “aspects” of a larger, encompassing term that he does not offer us. To me, it’s like drawing a distinction between “music composition” and “songwriting.” I suppose “music composition” has to do with the actual mechanics of progressions and motives and transcription and whatnot, and “songwriting” has to do with the actual creative process of putting a “song” together, but you pretty much can’t have one without the other… if there were no “songwriting,” there’d be no justification for “music composition,” and without “music composition,” there’d be no underpinning for “songwriting.”

    Just my 2¢ worth, I suppose… the whole thing really reminds me a bit of Stanley Fish, (who really chooses whatever position on an issue is most controversial and publishable and argues THAT… one has no idea what his ACTUAL stances are on any issue of criticism, apparently) frankly.

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