Friday, June 11, 2010

Manovich-The Language of New Media

Firstly, I wanted to say that I enjoyed reading about Manovich's background. Although he wanted to be a painter, he went to "matematicheskaya" school (mathematical) instead. However, he then took art classes. He seems to have an interesting back ground at first. However, it seems like the perfect emergence of a new medium--digital computer.

Manovich opens with discussing what is new media and what are the main principles behind them. This was simple to understand--numeric representation, automation, transcoding, modularity, variability. I found it interesting when Manovich discusses how one would determine what exactly new media consists of. He gives a good example--a photograph on a CD that neeeds a computer in order to be viewed vs. photographs in a photo album. A photogrpah on a CD is considered new media and the photographs in a photo album are not. However, he goes into further detail describing how new media is also a combination of computers and media technologies. He also gives example of this--"graphs, moving images, sounds, shapes and texts." (p20)

Manovich brings up the idea of the computer as a machine for media production vs. the computer as a tool for media production. This is similar to Bolter and Gromala's idea of a computer being known as an appliance.

It also seems that this new media seems to be about data and mathematics. " image or a shape can be described using a mathematical function." (p27) I always assumed that it all had alot to do with commands.

Something that I learned was the difference between high level automations and low level automations. High level automation are objects being generated because the computer "understands the meanings embedded in the object." And low level automations are created as the "computer used modifiers or creates it from scratch. "(Professor Strate--can you go over this in more detail in class next week?).

Overall, the most interesting concept was seeing the world through a frame. This begins with paintings and evolves into computers, cameras, etc. Due to new media--we see everyday life through frames...all day long. These frames are everywhere and help create continuous images of the world. As these frames are part of our daily, rountine lives--it is easy to see how people take these for granted.


  1. In adding to Alex's comment, I wasn't surprised but it did impact me that all of the characters, images, sounds, and functions of a computer are synthesized down to mathematical functions. therefore, the "digital" concept becomes apparent. I used to think at some point in time that anything digital was nothing but rays of light with supernatural powers. This never dawned upon me to see digital technology as a combination of functions. You are right, we do take for granted that computers are present in our lives. These images we see across the screen are nothing but framees that are intertwines or connected, but these frames represent an expansion of some simple structure. The computer program, for instance, is an example of a set of commands utilizing some mathematical principle or formula. The key word is continuity. Manovich makes a good explanation of this idea comparing film to computers. Now with that explained, the goal here is to discover what we can make out of this after "understanding" the operation of new media, and it would obviously be a good idea if Proffesor Strate could explain the concept of meanings embedded in objects and its relation to computers.

  2. Of course, we did talk about the digital, and the concept of information, prior to reading this book, Jantzen.

    Alex, of course, we can go over anything you have questions about in class, and in the meantime, good job in noting those basic characteristics of new media that Manovich identifies. It's a useful taxonomy, albeit one that we should not take as written in stone.