In continuing with Manovich's book, it is quite unclear yet what his intended purpose is. You may say that he is attempting to help us understand this idea of "new media" by outlining its components. His overall purpose is to try to "impress" us with his vast knowledge of computer technology and cinematography. Indirectly, he acts as a "marketing" agent of some sort in convincing us why we need to utilize new media in our everyday lives, thus creating him as another reinforcer to a behavior we already possess. But you know, it is not that simple. Individuals still possess thinking ability and creative possibilities, and from Manovich's point of view, he may (although that is also unclear) believe that compuers can 1) help a person achieve that creative ability or 2) become the subject of a computer and allow it to "think" for the user. This point made me a bit wary and adds to my deep concern about the technological dependence that we humans have developed as a result.
Manovich spends much time differentiating between digital and analog media, providing similarities and differences alike, with the hopes of finding what really distinguishes new media from old. He also invests time pointing out that digital media can lose some of its information in the process of transferrence from an analog source, which made me realize that he accepts the shortcomings of a "digital" form of communication. His 6 points in scrutinizing new vs. old media results in both not having much of a difference but rather, these two media are alternative takes. Cinema has perfected, over the years, the qualities of discrete representation, random access, and multimedia, and these are present in new media, so we cannot say that the above-mentioned are exclusive of new media. While film involves scenes that are "fixed" and involve successive time as its order of presentation, digital media involves discretion, and its parts can be modulated. Manovich also claims that digital works are never the same, that they can be "customized", whereas in analog technology, copies are made of an original production, not allowing for customization. Apparently, he doesn't really defend his points well enough because he later admits that there is a shortcoming to any new media, especially when dealing with the "personal" factor involved.
I found one issue quite hard to fully understand: the issue of the cultural layer versus the compuer layer. The cultural layer involves: encycloclopedia and short story; story and plot; composition and point of view; mimesis and catharsis; comedy and tragedy, whereas the computer layer encompasses process and packet; sorting and matching; fuction and variable; computer language and data structure. Because new media is created on computers, it is expected to significantly influence the traditional culture of logic (p. 46). It doesn't seem that Manovich offers a valid explanation as to how and why the computer layer affects the cultural. From what I understand, a computer is fed, through its program, a logic or pattern of thought and, in turn, it produces some desired outcome. To say that the computer layer is some divine power that affects culture sounds bogus.
So far, the one possible response I could find in this book is not that positive. It appears that new media has undermined traditional media and the communications field by allowing common individuals to become "producers" of their own work, which is amateur at best. It tricks us into thinking that we have power, but we really are dummies that have lost all thinking ability and, in worst case scenario" any logic. The people who do this kind of work for a living are the ones being harmed because they go to school and acquire job experience so they can be professionals at their art, and they want their talent to be recognized. By doing so, I hate to say that new media "cheapens" the art form of communications. Turning media into some mathematical equation is a very narrow way of interpreting an effort that has taken a century to perfect. There is room for two methods of producing and providing media to the masses, the old and the new. Continuing with illusions, such as that of virtual reality, only destroy language. If we are going to allow a machine to destroy our reasoning capabilities and reduce us to mere animals, then we might as well (to use an old phrase) "turn in our membership cards to the human race"!