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New Media Technologies: Communication Theories

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  1. New Media Technologies: Communication Theories COM 300 Kathy E. Gill 6 April 2005

  2. Agenda • Recap Monday • Characteristics of New Media • Lab

  3. Why Use a Technology? • Cognitive Needs – Desire (demand) for information, knowledge, understanding • Affective Needs – Aesthetic, pleasurable, and emotional experiences • Personal Integrative Needs – Inner-directed, deal with credibility, confidence, stability, and status • Social Integrative Needs – Outer-directed, strengthening relationships with family, friends, the world • Escapist Needs – Desire for tension release or diversion - Katz, Gurevitch, and Haas

  4. Diffusion Theory • Rogers (1995) outlined four parts: • Innovation • Social system • Time • Communications channels • And five steps: • Knowledge • Persuasion • Decision (adopt or reject) • Implementation • Confirmation

  5. Characteristics of New Media • Compare/contast with “old” media • Review Networks of Remediation • Examine McLuhan’s “medium is the message” • Review Manovich’s five points

  6. New Media Characteristics • A blend of characteristics from “old” media • Print • Radio • Film • TV

  7. Print Characteristics • Abstract • Fixed • Linear • Primarily verbal • Reader controls pace • Transient audience

  8. Radio Characteristics • Dynamic • Linear • “Live” — happening in real time • Auditory • Creator controls pace • Transient audience

  9. TV Characteristics • Dynamic • Linear • “Live” — may be happening now • Primarily visual • Animated • Creator controls pace • Transient audience

  10. Film Characteristics • Fixed • Linear • Primarily visual • Animated • Creator controls pace • Captive audience

  11. New Media • Typically nonlinear • Dynamic • “Live” (maybe) • Multi-media (visual, auditory) • Relies on hypertext • User controls pace and direction • Transient audience

  12. One new technology Source: http://www.mala.bc.ca/~soules/CMC290/290wk5.htm

  13. Hypertext • Presents information as linked nodes • Breaks the linear narrative • Envisioned by Vannevar Bush (1945) • Coined by Ted Nelson • Apple : Hypercard • Online (software) Help systems • Tim Berners-Lee

  14. Networks of Remediation (1/5) • “A medium is that which remediates” … and it is measured “against” other media (like we just did) • New media in turn change the “older” media • TV … tickertape • Print … adopting web design conventions

  15. Networks of Remediation (2/5) • Economic success depends on supplanting a pre-existing medium • Conflict: newspaper websites v paper • Conflict: CDs v downloadable (sharable) songs • Hypermediacy • Survivor… The Apprentice… mediated or authentic?

  16. Networks of Remediation (3/5) • How do we separate technology from its social use? Can we? • Technological determinism : says technology causes social change … Social determinism is the converse • Corollary: “nature versus nurture” … “'technology-push” v “demand-pull” • Can new media technology offer us transparent democracy? • Howard Rheingold, John Perry Barrow

  17. Networks of Remediation (4/5) • Postman: “the uses made of technology are largely determined by the structure of the technology itself” • For example, arguably the underlying Net Tech is ‘old’ (TCP/IP) and yet adoption has proved to be a function of ‘ease of use’ (new software) and social necessity (network effects)

  18. Networks of Remediation (5/5) • “The Male Gaze” • Which economic sector was the first to be profitable online? (hint: the first letter is “p”) • Are webcams mediating today’s “strip tease” by providing a sense of immediacy and transparency? What about sites like “Wicked Weasel Bikinis” (Australian firm)?

  19. McLuhan (1/4) • Believes media (technologies) affect cultural (social) change • Differentiates between a medium and its content • Same content (words) is a different message when delivered in print, face-to-face, or on television

  20. McLuhan (2/4) • Historical Construct • Tribal Age (oral culture – intuitive) • Age of Literacy (invention of phonetic alphabet – emergence of logic) • Print Age (invention of printing press – linear thinking – science – individualism) • Electronic Age (ushered in with telegraph, poster child: TV – global village – decline of logic and linearity - image)

  21. McLuhan (3/4) • Theorizes that a print culture created conformity and continuity • Think about America’s #1 export: culture/movies/logos • Western technology and remote geographies: • Al Jazerra – satellite technology to most of the Middle East; banned by several ME countries

  22. McLuhan (4/4) • Compare our immediate knowledge of the 26 December Tsunami with the 1556 Chinese earthquake that killed 830,000 • If, as he suggests, print created individualism and nationalism … what might networked communication create? Will familiarity breed contempt or collaboration?

  23. Manovich’s Five (1/6) • Numerical Representation • Modularity • Automation • Variability • Transcoding

  24. Manovich’s Five (2/6) • Numerical representation • “zero’s and one’s” • Vector graphics v Bitmaps • Analog v Digital • Early complaints about CD v LP

  25. Manovich’s Five (3/6) • Modularity • The “whole” consists of many “objects” • Example from blog: Google Images • PPT and Excel • HTML page (javascript, JPGs, etc) • Individual blog posts

  26. Manovich’s Five (4/6) • Automation • What computers do best! • From blog post: “Apple’s new OS X Tiger… and Automator” • Photoshop automation; running “Cron” jobs; database driven websites • RSS readers • Object management and search (Google)

  27. Manovich’s Five (5/6) • Variability • Website customization possible by automation • Presenting data (shaping appearance) based on output device: monitor, PDA, cellphone • Scaling (zoom – Google Maps)

  28. Manovich’s Five (6/6) • Transcoding • Two distinct layers: cultural layer and technology layer … the intersection is a field called Human-Computer Interaction

  29. Summary • We define (or frame) new media in comparison to old media • There is an intrinsic relationship between content and technology: both contribute to meaning • Churchill : “we shape our buildings and then our buildings shape us”