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New Media in History

A presentation on new media history that covers manuscript culture to the present day, within reason.

Steve Ersinghaus

on 14 September 2014

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Transcript of New Media in History

New Media in History
Let's first divide our history into three general phases:
Manuscript Culture
Print Culture (Age of Print)
Digital Culture (Late Age of Print)
The characteristics of Manuscript Culture:
Culture Layer
Sacred texts and records; herbals and bestiaries
Work typically performed in monasteries and in religious, instructional, or curation context
Used by notables to record significant events
Later moved to urban areas, work managed by universities (peciae system)
Prioritized Memory and Memorization: the living text
Design and "Code" Layers
Codex, Scrolls, Illuminated
Scribes and copiers rather than writers
Vellum and Paper
Labor and material intensive
Headlines/Tables of Content
Problems: Inaccuracy and limited copies
Reading was a spoken activity
No silent reading, really, at least not as we know it
5th to 15th Centuries,
though the craft goes back to the Egyptians.
The illuminated manuscript was characterized by decoration, marginalia (borders), and illustration and provides a framework for modern communication design and "media interrelationship"
Chinese wood block, xylography, printing (300 CE)
Moveable Type (Printing Press 15th Century)
Characterized by:

Culture Layer
Rapid spread of ideas
Book culture/Reading Culture (See
A Social History of the Media
by Briggs and Burke)
Mass Education and "Literacy"
Writers and Authors (individual authorities)
Publishing and the publishing ecology)
Mass Education and "Literacy"
Writers and Authors (individual authorities)
Publishing and the publishing ecology
Reshaped Authority (for example, the reader can compare competing ideas)
Reshaped Tradition (one can consult "history")
Permanence or "Fixed" ideas

Code and Design Layers
Moveable Type rather than Script
Machine rather than scribe or amanuensis
Book/Binding technology
Machine/Engineering metaphors
Code manipulation (Alphabet and Number systems)
Mass distribution and copy
Accuracy (All copies are fairly exact)
Standardized Formats/Fonts/Templates
Silent Reading
With print culture we
see a transition from Print
copying Manuscript forms (tables of content) to Manuscript forms copying print formats: this is remediation, where one major form uses features of another form, such as the shape of letters or illustrations.
Characterized by:

Culture Layer
Rapid idea sharing and creation
Networked ideas
Reshape tradition
Information Flow and Entropy
Machine/brain metaphor
Mass/Global Comm
Mass Education and "Literacies"
Authors and Authors and Authorities
Fragmented publishing ecology (wikileaks, blogs, Amazon)
Design and Code Layer
Machine computation
Mathematical type (digital)
The screen and page transcoding "problem"
Code manipulation (Alphabetical, Numerical, Artificial Language)
Searches for standardization (wc3)

With digital culture we see a transition from print and manuscript formats to numerical representation where all forms of media share a common "code": binary code. Everything is bytes, nibbles, or words.
Thus all media history is compressed into
New Media (so, it's not really new; it's always changing; that's why we say "new.")
Associated Periods and Movements:
The Renaissance
Industrial Age
Industrial Revolution
The Space Age
Associated Periods and Movements:
Post Industrial
The Space Age
Information Age
Late post-modernism
Associated Periods and Movements:
The Medieval
Age of Faith/Christianization of
Europe/North Africa/England
Late Medieval
The Renaissance
Anglo Saxon England
Late Antiquity
Ideas and Comparisons (a brainstorm)
The Manuscript form
Physical writing surface: paper or vellum (animal skins); information bounded by edge of manuscript page or margin

Terms: Parchmenter/scribe/illuminator/manual production (the hand)

One Bible could take years to produce

Black encaustic or lamp black ink; tinted oils; pliable metals, such as gold

Expensive and rare; wealthy could commission scribes

Enabled record keeping and recording and referencing

Principle skill: Memorization for "readers," as they had limited access to "manuscripts"

Emanuensis or scribes were "copyists" who spoke words aloud as they wrote; reading was a sacred act

Copies were imperfect

Encouraged readible/legible letter forms and thus a sense of the "physicality" of language

Read by natural or candle light

Manuscript surface was broken into regions and spaces that might include tables of contents, index, colophon, headline, bibliography, and other "meta-data"

Standardized the use of gutters, columns, rubric space/height, line and letter arts, and a layout framework

The Devotio Moderna, a preaching movement, required preachers to read and enunciate; this was a critical movement in the need to produce a "greater number of texts"
The printed form
Physical surface: the paper page; page aesthetics; information bounded by surface edge or margin; information carries onto successive page

Terms: press operator; machine production; book seller; librarian

Pages took hours to set; but, once set, numerous papes could be produced in minutes, subject to quantities

Infrastructure: paper, ink, metals, buildings, trucks, fuel, power, the list goes on; sustainability issues

Usage terms: portability; sharing; collecting; archiving; reading, page turning, flipping, dogearing, linear sequences

Encourges interpretation but Not Manipulation of texts: text, images, graphics; elements were fixed to the page

Typography and standardization of print

Copies were exact; one book has the same "content" as its facsimile

Broadsides, books, pamphlets, letters, records, paper money,
written constitutions

Encouraged the systemization of language forms: written forms vs oral forms

Encouraged the use of native languages and the standardaization of those native languages, such as English, Spanish vs Official languages, such as Latin and Greek

Silent reading by natural and candle illumination, until the invention of artifical light in the 19th Century
The digital form
The digital surface: computer screen; screen aesthetics; information bounded by pixel dimension, screen dimension, or infinite, multidimension, subject to computer memory; information scrolls is served or carries onto new file

Terms: programmer; user; interactor; developer; screen; interactivity; variability; automation; parsing; network

Portability; networks; sharing; archiving; storing; searching; accessing; non-linear manipulation

Infrastructure: atomic science; electrical power; physcial computing devices; wire, fiber, screens, and the list goes on; sustainability subject to tech innovation

Encourages interpretation and manipulation of all media forms: text, image, sound, graphics, motion graphics; elements are not "fixed" to the screen

Standards are in development; standards derived from Print Culture

Copies are exact; every copy is an "original"; versioning

Email, eTexts, web sites, sound files, blogs, "print representations," applications, eBooks, all document forms; thus new literacy forms

Remediation of Print and Manuscript forms

Language evolution: texting, tweeting, googling; encourages methods of representing language; automation of language generation; machine language standardization; code

Remediates both written and oral forms; is text messaging a mash of oral and written forms?

Electricity/battery dependent
mapping the blogosphere
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