What is New Media?

After reading Manovich’s chapter on this topic, my concept of defining new media is a bit fuzzy. I can provide examples of new media tools and features, but of increasing worth is the ability to provide a list of characteristics of what is and what is not new media. Manovich addressed exactly these points; however, I question and disagree with some of his points. (I’ll address these disagreements in a later post).

New Media is the media that we use to communicate, entertain, produce, etc. It is the largely digital instances of the technological tools and features we use to reach these ends. Is it digital? Usually. Is it interactive? Definitely; however, this point, as Manovich discusses, is somewhat meaningless unless I specify what this means to my definition. On this point, I must concur with Manovich in that interactivity really relates to specific types of interactivity, such as open/closed, hypermedia, etc. Is each new media example based on an earlier (or “old”) media? Invariably, I think they are.

Essentially, it new media is about providing options and personalization to the user. It is interactive in the Web 2.0 sense that users of new media have greater control over their experience and have far more power to contribute to the distribution of information. While there are elements that strive to improve image/sound/file quality (over old media), this goal is not always met. For example, image quality is often compromised for the sake of file size and distribution. However, what is successful is the aim of offering users options (do you want it now-a bit fuzzy, or do you want to suffer a lengthy download for higher quality.

I am left with a number of questions, on this definition, which I hope to address in upcoming posts. For example, I question what it means to be “New” media. Is there a date or a specific event after which point we consider a medium to be “New?” Is there a point at which a new media example is no longer new? I will strive to answer these questions in upcoming posts.

3 Responses to “What is New Media?”

  1. Comment From Rich on May 10th, 2008 at 11:38 am

    Really interested in which points you disagree with. Yes, in some ways, “new media” is indefinable. But, we can certainly allude to characteristics of new media, which is something you have done here. Interesting that you point to distribution. In fact, new media has much to do with distribution and replicability. Web 2.0 is all about distribution of input and output. Does “new” refer to not something post or something recent but something remediated? What is remediation, specifically?

  2. Comment From Jean on May 11th, 2008 at 7:32 am

    Interesting reflections, Time. Your focus seems to be use — the interactivity that is predicated on what I refer to as the “back end” or the guts of what we interact with.

    So what do you think about convergence of computer language with rhetorical strategies as new creativity — a definition for new media? In other words, is creation as significant as interaction? And what do you make of the potential for new media to shape identity? How about the potential to create social reality? Do you think that new media allows for distribution of power, or does it sustain privilege? Do any of these questions have any bearing on what new media is? Or are they secondary to image files and distributions?

  3. Comment From Alec on May 13th, 2008 at 11:53 am

    “Essentially, it seems New Media is really about providing options and personalization to the user.” I think this is a good characteristic that might be applicable in our discussions this week. Option-based media allows us to see new media as “ours” and not someone else’s. Just a thought.

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