[-empyre-] what is new media?

empyre folks -

Wow. I'm only checking email about once a day. There's been quite a bit of discussion in the last 30 hours.

I realize, reading over what's been written here, that I mean two things by "new media." Sometimes I mean "new media" objects and sometimes I mean a "new media" field.

For me, new media objects use computation as an expressive medium. The parallel mentioned with film in an earlier post seems appropriate. Film can be used as an expressive medium, and it can also be used for other things (e.g., microfilm storage). Similarly, computation can be used as an expressive medium or it can be used for other things (e.g., calculating the position of an anti-aircraft gun). Also, to pick up the earlier mention of Final Cut Pro, to me that's often an instance of computation being used in the creation of non-computational media (film, video, what Adrian Miles calls "video hard copy") but QuickTime can also be a new media platform (what Miles calls "softvideo").

On the other hand, I think of the new media field in somewhat different terms. I see it as a field composed of three elements:
- The development of media tools that use computation to enable interaction and display.
- The development of media artifacts that employ (and inspire) these tools.
- Critical and historical reflection on these developments.
When I said that Nick and I saw new media as a field, when working on The New Media Reader, I meant it as something of a prerequisite. Just as no one would make a "Cultural Studies Reader" if they didn't see cultural studies as a field. New media may turn out to be an evanescent field, it may change names, or it may change composition - but for now this is how I see it.

I have to head off now - but I'll try to write more later tonight or tomorrow.


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