Lecture: The Medium is the Message

New media studies pre-dated 'digital humanities', and to this day they tend to work well alongside -- and sometimes within -- digital humanities departments and research initiatives. Ultimately new media studies are concerned with our relationship to media and how it changes our behaviour and knowledge systems. 

Marshall McLuhan (1911–1980) was a proto-digital humanist if there ever was one. His interests spanned philosophy, technology, studies of language, cognitive science, and beyond. The following lecture surveys his major ideas and they affected the current field of new media studies.

McLuhan began to tease apart the ways that media create new experiences through electronic means, but what is missing is that media itself eventually coalesced around computation, as the computer is now the medium that processes and manipulates media. As Lev Manovitch said, "Media and computer — Daguerre's daguerreotype and Babbage's Analytical Engine, the Lumière Cinématographie and Hollerith's tabulator — merge into one. All existing media are translated into numerical data accessible for the computers. The result: graphics, moving images, sounds, shapes, spaces and text become computable, i.e. simply another set of computer data. In short, media becomes new media" ("New Media: A User's Guide," 1999).

Last modified: Thursday, 29 October 2020, 9:16 PM