Category Archives: Week 9

The next president? Facebook

You thought what you see every day is random, whether you like it or not, you wouldn’t really look into the reason that you are receiving certain information, but you probably should — at least starting from now.

According to NYT, ” Federal regulators and state prosecutors are opening investigations into Facebook. Politicians in the United States and Europe are calling for its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, to testify before them. Investors have cut the value of the social networking giant by about $50 billion in the past two days.” It’s all about the same thing, whether this dominant player in SNS service mishandled users’ data.

We live in this “information age”, SNS seems to a primary source for many,  as some features of the platforms like Facebook do seem to facilitate the flow of information. We post and re-post, tweet and re-tweet. We like the articles that we support and share the  emotion with like-minded crowd.

The problem is most of the users are not aware of the algorithm that runs behind the scene. The result could be a self-fulfilling prophecy — you see what you want, and only what you want.

How accurate could the reverse-engineering be with the data and trace that you left on SNS? The answer is it would be accurate enough to influence your decision and determine the result of a presidential election.

As for YouTube, the idea is primarily to generate more possibility by integrating more functions into a single place.

It’s a medium, as information flows over YouTube. All the files that it contains, regardless of the format, make it a medium.

It a platform, so that people could gather and share things, this further allows the possibility of remediation. The more you have, the bigger that chance would be for users to generate remix outcomes.

Learn the Theory Through Key Words

In the MIT Press Edition of Understanding Media, Lewis H· Lapham lists the key words of the culture developed from Printing media and Digital media by concluding McLuhan’s work and his personal understanding. Such word tables reminds me of another famous table makes by Hassan. In Hassan’s work of “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism”, he gives a table of key words of modernism and postmodernism draws on the idea of many different fields.

It is understandable to find some correlation between these two tables as Lapham defines the printing media being part of modern culture while the digital media is put into the postmodernism  part. Even though I am a hundred percent agree with neither the idea of McLuhan and Latham or the idea of Hassan, I can still see some relations here that deserves digging into, which may help me understand both the media and the postmodernism content.

A question I would like to cite here is that, if the grand narrative is breaking up, does the development of media work on the deconstruction? As the society and technology interacts with each other and shapes each other,electrical media being “discontinues” and “contracted” and the innocence of people being involved in the electrical media seem to be account for that deconstruction. However, shouldn’t the group therapy, the chorus of electrical media culture help building up the grand narrative?

From modernism (Phallic) to postmodernism (polymorphous/ androgynous), from printing (heterosexual) to electric (polymorphous), such a parallel, from my perspective, has once explained by Joshua Meyrowitz in his work, No Sense of Place: The Impact of Electronic Media on Social Behavior. Electrical media blur the boundary of male and female, the sense of gender is somehow weaken which enables a tendency of androgynous.

One of a typical postmodern process is the development of mass art, the popular art which from my perspective, is certainly boosted by the development of new electrical media.

It is a pity that I am still not expertise neither in the field of modernism and postmodernism nor in the field of media theory. There are still a lot of key words contained in the tables work nonsense to me. But I think make full us of the table and analyze them together can be really good way for me to get into both of the two subject.

Coexistence of the old and the new

When media are trying to constantly reconfiguring, retranscribing it self from the old to the new, I don’t think the “old” media will finally die out. One way to think of this is that people are always locked in to their old habits. The baby boomers still keep their habits of listening to videos when driving, and reading newspapers daily. The old media presentation will probably be delegated gradually rather than immediately shifting to the new presentations.

The recent years witness some shift from the traditional media landscape to the new, digital ones. One factor distinct in the process is the developmental strategies of media corporations that determines if they are going to be revolutionary or not. Although it is obvious that the new generation are more accustomed to digital media and texts and graphics in new media forms are more portable and cost-efficient, the marketing strategies at corporate level can sustain a traditional media platform enough by appealing to the motivations of individuals. When a traditional media outlet want to survive in the digital-dominant media business scene of nowadays, its strategy becomes important as if what kind of brand image they want to build to attract younger customers or keeps appealing and being loyal to older customers, who in the past consume massive traditional media content and will continuously act this way.

The transitions and reconfigurations of media has not reached the political level where state will mandate and regulate the use of media forms; Now it still conforms to neoliberality and operates under the principles of free market. At micro level, whether to reconfigurate or not is still controlled by the free will of any entity, and is highly responsive to the behavior of their target consumers. However, it can also be foreseen that the new media will likely replace the traditional media in the near future because the new generation consumers is more digitally addictive and are more accustomed to new media presentations.

Reference:

Regis Debray, Transmitting Culture, trans. Eric Rauth. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.

Hot Media VS Cool Media

As McLuhan said in Understanding Media, the Extension of Man, hot media do not leave so much to be filled in or completed by the audience and need low participation, while cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience. For example, radio is a kind of hot media because people don’t need to participate in radio and they just need auditory sense. Telephone is a kind of cool media because people need to speak and respond when using the telephone and that can be considered high participation.

However, for the same media, it becomes hotter and hotter during the development. That is relevant to people’s choice. People pretend to choose hot media because they don’t need them to participate much. That is to say, hot media is the market tendency. The development of media is driven by human needs. For TV, from traditional black and white TV to color TV and then to digital TV, the picture of TV is becoming more and more clear. At the same time, TV is becoming bigger and bigger and TV is developing towards networked. Every time when technology is updated, the audience can get clearer information and their participation is becoming less and less. Before revolutionary change, technological progress is a process of gradually hot.

When the temperature is higher and higher to a certain degree, the revolutionary change happens. Although TV is becoming hotter and hotter, young people pretend to use internet rather than TV. At the same time, internet is also becoming hotter and hotter. Initially the website was only full of text, and then pictures. Now it comes into the hypermedia time.

However, an interesting fact challenges this qualitative change. Take the car as an example. The car is developing and evolving all the time and in the future, maybe non-driver car will appear. However, the sale volume of the car doesn’t have qualitative change. On the contrary, because the environment is becoming more polluted and the roads are getting more crowded, the government is calling for reducing the times of driving private cars and using public transportation more. No media can stay existed and have meanings alone and any media can only realize its own meaning and existence in the interaction with other media. When interacting with the other media, the development of the media is bound to add a pressure on the environment. When the pressure on the environment reaches a certain degree, the pressure will turn to promote the reversal effect.

The function of the cool and hot media is due to the interaction of human’s needs. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of need, human beings have physiological needs, safety needs, love/belonging needs, esteem needs and self-actualization needs. The five needs begin from the most basic physiological needs and gradually upgrade. Today, most people don’t need to worry about the basic physiological needs and they are gradually chasing for higher levels of needs. The little information in cool media requires the active input of people and during this process, the opportunity of human interaction with others is greatly increased. The more information in hot media weakens the differences among people, such as gender and labor ability. Consequently, it reduces the opportunities for people to cooperate and communicate with others and the chances for interaction. The transition from cool media to hot media is related to the pursuit of self-actualization of human beings. When the media is becoming hotter, people’s esteem and self-actualization needs are not met and then reversal effect happens in nature.

Bibliography:

  1. Manovich, L. (2001). The language of new media. MIT press.
  2. McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding media: The extensions of man. MIT press.

From GUI to Embodied interface: Who is next? — Wency

From GUI to Embodied interface: Who is next? 

From 506 we have learnt the concept of interface which serves as a boundary of two separate components or systems that enable them to interact with each other. Partly being considered as a channel for transmission, media have been considered for a long time as an interface between human and different contents. According to Dourish’s interface paradigm, there are four modes of interface (i.e. electrical, symbolic, textual and graphical). Today, as the whole digital industry is keep trying to make everything more human readable and user friendly, the graphical interface, think about every icon on the screen on your computer for instance, also known as GUI, is being more and more important providing the visual metaphor functions.

According to Manovich, media today is becoming new media where everything presented on the GUI, for instance, are computable, the visual metaphor of icons resembling the real object, the pattern recognition, would all be broken down into the smallest controllable unit of digital display called pixel and then transferred into numerical representation for machine to understand and manipulate (Manovich, ,2011, p.20-27). Manovich also mentions the variability as a property of new media where users can customize automatically the media composition as well as to create elements themselves (Manovich, 2011, p.37). GUI, on the other hand, is a conceptual model aligned with changes and development of hardware, the traditional unidirectional impact, therefore, is transferred into bi-directional or even multi-directional network.

On the one hand, technology is immersed into the development of media to change the way we interact with contents, on the other hand, just as professor Irvine said in the video: we need to think about media and mediation beyond channels of transmission (Irvine, 2018). As I’ve mentioned in the above paragraph about conceptual model, the HCI (human computer interaction) means that we, as individuals living in this social, economic, cultural and political world, are also interacting and shaping the technology, or digital interface. The technology in the whole system of mediation are never autonomous, they come together through a large amount of policies, institutions, law, etc., power, authority, social factors are implemented into new technology which is keep reconfiguring (Irvine, 2018). In Bolter and Grusin’s work about remediation, they mentioned the example of visual reality the goal of which is let users forget about the computer interface, the interface thus becomes transparent, or erased (Bolter & Grusin, 2000, p.22). Similar case goes to the E-book which is mentioned by professor Irvine in the video, the goal of which is somehow let the user feel as if they are reading a real printed book. The user experience in the VR industry, provides feedback and thus shapes the industry due to the industry’s economic and business interest. In the latter example, we can also see new artifacts as an interface to invisible historical dependency where people have experienced a previous technology (the printed book in this case) and become dependent, or better, lock-in (the concept is derived from Latour) to the previous technology that they sometimes refuse to transfer into a new version of technology (Irvine, 2018, p.9).

Today, the elements being interfaced is increasingly growing where our location, context, gesture, body movement, voice, etc. can all be captured and computed. The embodied interface, as a new stage of interface after graphical interface, emerges also with social, cultural, political and economic factors behind it. For example, the Kinect captures the users’ motions and almost simultaneously display them onto the screen. The interesting part of Kinect, for example, is that if you are playing a virtual tennis game, you will even feel the power of heating the ball, the sound simulation tracks and matches so perfectly with the movement that users’ sometimes even feel like they are playing a real game. Here we are again back to the double logic of remediation. On the one hand, the development of new media provides us new ways of interacting with every single content in the real world, but on the other hand, such mediation, or according to Debray, the transmission which stands for changes along time, is always affected by historical development: the rules of the game, the display of the settings, the speed, power measurement and sound effect, are all designed to resemble the original tennis game at maximum. Kinect, or better, every modern media or digital interface we can imagine, is a combination of spatial communication and temporal transmission (Debray, p.3). The development of media, the mediation of media itself, are thus happening under the sociotechnical system where the development is always non-linear but at the same time having a more predictable direction.

 

References:

  1. Bolter, J, D. & Grusin, R. (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.
  2. Debray, R. (2000). Transmitting Culture. New York: Columbia University Press.
  3. Irvine, M. (2018). Introduction to Media and Technical Mediation.
  4. Kinect sensor with Kinect adventures! (n.d.) Retrieved March 21st, 2018, from https://www.amazon.com/Kinect-Sensor-Adventures-xbox-360/dp/B002BSA298
  5. Manovich, L. (2001). The language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

 

YouTube as a Medium

To understand the role YouTube plays in the information communication system, it is indispensable to de-blackbox YouTube. Simply speaking, it is a vide gathering and distribution website that users or agencies upload videos spontaneously and audiences can search for video resources in need. Obviously, videos are the content of YouTube while videos themselves are a form of medium. From this point of view, YouTube is a carrier of videos which are generated by users.

Hypermediacy. A video is one of the most universal and powerful medium forms in carrying information nowadays, though Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality also extend the sensors of human beings. It is not merely the simple combinations of other media, such as scripts, sounds, and images, but it also takes advantage of these media organically and develops a brand-new form of media.

Immediacy. As Bolter Grusin stated, “they are all attempts to achieve immediacy by ignoring or denying the presence of the medium and the act of mediation.” From this perspective, video largely shorten the psychological distances between scenes and audiences and realize great immediacy in a way. However, it is worthwhile to notice that inevitably, medium plays a dual role in communicating the authentic information and its audiences. On the one side, it conveys messages and enables users to have a basic knowledge. On the other side, a medium can only demonstrate a few aspects of the truth which can be misleading, and it can also be manipulated or distorted intendedly. Hence, even though videos achieve immediacy to a larger degree than newspapers, broadcasting, and photograph, its reliability remains to be investigated carefully.

“Medium is Message.” Marshall McLuhan’s innovative statement enables us to re-examine YouTube itself as a medium. As what stated above, YouTube is a carrier or a platform that provides the connection between videos and audiences, but it is not neutral. Its characteristics can result in the boom of the messages it prefers, even becoming a cultural phenomenon. For instance, Youtuber is a group of netizens who shoot or edit videos themselves and attract according followers. They make various genres of videos, among which vlog is one of the most popular ones. Why “Youtuber” and vlog emerge from the platform of YouTube instead of other forms of media? Some apparent characteristics of YouTube might explain this question, such as high in participation, fast speed of spread, strong interaction and immediacy.

Hot or Cold Media. This pair of concepts assists us to understand YouTube’s high in participation and strong immediacy. According to McLuhan, “hot media are… low in participation and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience.” Moreover, hot media extends one single sense in “high definition” while cold media is in low definition. Whereas, in the case of YouTube, the clarification is a little paradoxical to me. YouTube provides higher participation by uploading videos and commenting beneath a video when it is compared to television, another carrier of “videos”. But meanwhile, it is in “high definition” as well because it shows what things are directly and multi-dimensionally beyond adequate room for imagination like novels.

 

Reference:

Marshall McLuhan (1964),
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin (2000). Remediation: Understanding New Media.