Re: [-empyre-] ~~NMR
I ended up having two meetings today, oddly (this doesn't usually happen
on Sundays) but will try to reply quickly to Jim's questions, which I
> Changing subject somewhat, in thinking about the achievement of Nick and
> Noah's New Media Reader--which is considerable--it seems like what they've
> done is try to look at the history from 1940 to 1994 which paved the way for
> the Web/Net and, perhaps more broadly, the current computing environment as
> it relates to social communications and art (as opposed, say, to industry).
> Would that be accurate?
Yes, Jim, that's pretty accurate. I'd add that we're not only looking at
networked computing, but novel sorts of uses of stand-alone computers
> I'm interested in hearing about the process Nick and Noah went through to
> bring the book to press (and who else was involved in the process?).
Those who were involved: A very important person was the book designer,
Michael Crumpton, who typeset everything as he worked out with Noah how
the more unusual materials would be presented. And many people at MIT
Press, and anonymous reviewers, and our advisory committee.
> In selecting the texts and CD files you selected, you have covered a lot
> of ground from 1940 to 1994. Did you come up with a timeline and then
> address the issues in the timeline in your selection of texts, or was it
> the quality of the text/file you considered...how did you approach
> finding and selecting texts and other files for this project that seeks
> to frame the history of the development of a field?
World War II and the time around the development of the general-purpose
computer had seemed like a good starting point. There is earlier important
work -- E. M. Forster's "The Machine Stops" would be one of countless
examples -- but a focus on the second half of the twentieth century, up to
the popularization of the Web, seemed like an appropriate one. I should
really just let Noah answer in more detail, because he did a lot of work
soliciting syllabi and suggestions from a number of professors and artists
before I was even involved with the project, and these were the first
basis for selections.
> Do you feel this field already exists and so you're putting together the
> history, or is the book also an attempt to help bring the field into
Of course, we didn't write any of the articles in the book, and we see the
field as one that has been developing during the whole timeline of the New
Media Reader, since World War II, and up to the present. On the other
hand, there wasn't really a convenient resource like this before, and we
did intend to aid, in a small way at least, in the development of things
like the Ph.D. in Digital Media at Georgia Tech, by suppling a reader for
these programs. That isn't the only purpose of the book, but it is one.
> I note you use the term 'computation' rather than 'programming'. Your notion
> of 'new media' seems to be something like 'computing in the social and
> artistic spheres'. Is that accurate? So is the book a kind of history of
> 'computing communication paradigms in the social and artistic spheres'?
I'd say it's a kind of history -- although it's mainly an anthology of
important work in this field, one which we've tried to present in a useful
format, with introductions and connections. So, yes, we do try to tell a
story or history that links this work, but I wouldn't consider the NMR to
be the same sort of history of new media as, for instance, the history
that I hope Twisty Little Passages provides for interactive fiction.
The introductions that Noah and I wrote are very much situated in the time
of their writing, and in this respect, the New Media Reader suffers from a
classic problem of histories that Foucault noted -- but we hope we've
provided something that will be useful as a genealogy of the way new media
has developed, not just as an archeology.
My new book, Twisty Little Passages: http://nickm.com/twisty
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