Dear students of ALC201 Exploring New Media: Users, Settings, Implications,
Sorry to any other subscribers / readers, this post is not for you – but feel free to watch too if you’re interested 🙂
Below you’ll find the first of the weekly ‘meLectures’, which aim to put into practice the unit’s emphasis on creativity, critical thinking, participation, collaboration, and digital production. This week’s videos are important to watch carefully, as they explain the crucial ideas that the unit is built upon, outline the resources you need to engage with, and map out some key issues for discussion throughout the week. Any feedback on the meLectures is more than welcome as we move through the unit – you don’t have to wait until the end of the trimester to evaluate things in the unit – such is the power of digital media!
And lastly, don’t worry: the meLectures won’t usually be this long – we just have a lot of stuff to cover this week…
Even though this meLecture is much longer than it will usually be in future weeks, I still had to omit some material and wanted to spend some time here making some preliminary points on how ‘new media’ has been conceptualised. Setting aside the problematic elements of the terminology of the ‘new’ (the unit title is gone next year and ‘digital media’ will take prominence), 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’. The increasing reliance on ever-present mobile devices that serve as ‘attachments’ to the physical body, allowing people to be constantly ‘plugged in’, further blur conceptual divides that seemed to be clear-cut not so long ago, such as the distinction between the human and the artificial.
These and other developments have raised fundamental questions 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 bubble.us 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.