meLecture the First: Introducing ‘New’ Media: Concepts and Contexts

Below you’ll find the first ALC201 ‘meLecture’, which explains some crucial unit resources and maps out some key issues for discussion throughout the first week…


As highlighted in the meLecture, I’m hoping these weekly videos will become less about me and more about some of you (directly or otherwise) in subsequent weeks. I considered calling the videos ‘usLectures’, which just sounds stupid, or ‘weLectures’, but that seemed a bit Nintendo-ish and these days I’m an ‘Xbox boy’… Nonetheless, I hope that these meLectures will not always live up to their name – it will be great to put the intersection of creativity, participation, collaboration, and digital production into practice! I’m open to suggestions, so feel free to get in touch should you have any ideas for certain weeks (whether you are in my classes or not) – I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to incorporate any or all suggestions, particularly when I film a conversation or two with people, but any thoughts are most welcome and appreciated!


I was determined to limit this meLecture to two 15 minute sections maximum (and I just made it!), so I had to omit some material and suggested in the video that I would spend some time discussing on my blog here some preliminary points on how ‘new media’ has been conceptualised. Setting aside the problematic elements of the terminology of the ‘new’, the most important point I would make is that our interest in this unit goes beyond merely the devices or programs people make use of. To draw on the second edition of New Media: A Critical Introduction (2009, pp. 12-13), Martin Lister et al. emphasise that ‘new media’ should be seen to refer to the following categories:

  • New textual experiences
  • New ways of representing the world
  • New relationships between users and technologies
  • New formations of identity and community
  • New conceptions of the body’s relationship to technology
  • New patterns of organisation and production

One need only reflect on the immersive virtual environment of Second Life, for example, in which users explore and experience a world with its own currency (Linden Dollars) and various educational, business, shopping, and entertainment opportunities, to begin to perceive the implications of digital worlds for the construction of identity and ‘reality’. Further blurring coneptual divides that seemed to be clear-cut not so long ago, such as the distinction between the human and the artificial, is the increasing reliance on ever-present mobile devices that serve as ‘attachments’ to the physical body, allowing people to be constantly ‘plugged in’.

These and other developments raise fundamental issues for cyberculture scholars (and numerous science-fiction filmmakers) over the very nature of humanity. You might like to list some ‘new media’ examples of your own underneath the above categories to confirm for yourself the incredibly wide scope of what we can look at as part of ALC201. You will have considerable flexibility in the unit to create media in relation to subjects of specific interest, so brainstorming areas and issues that are particularly important to you early in the trimester would be a valuable exercise. In the spirit of Media Studies 2.0, you might even like to use the online platform to throw together some ideas…

Go forth, live (online, a bit), and prosper! 🙂


Lister, M, Dovey, J, Giddings, S, Grant I and Kelly, K 2009, New Media: A Critical Introduction, 2nd edition, Routledge, London.


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