Tag Archive: Lister

This article discusses the need for critical thinking into the perceived “newness” of ‘new media.’ Lister notes that consumers are blinded by the “shiny dazzle” (44) of the ways that ‘new media’ are presented for them and may fail to evaluate the media based on the history of media, newness, and how people have responded to technological change in the past. Lister proceeds to break up the main ideas of the chapter, very clearly showing the various ways to think critically about new media. To introduce the discussion, ­ Lister makes a note that media theorists tend not to debate over their arguments, yet take polar ends on their commentaries on the degrees of newness of media. In order to judge ‘newness’ on a value scale, one must understand that to judge the new one must be able to put into context the old or the historical dimension of the media artifact.

When examining media from this evaluative standpoint, such as digital television and interactivity as Lister does, one can see that these are examples of ‘old’ medias in ‘new’ times (Mackay and O’Sullivan).  On the other hand, radical media such as MMPOG’s tend to lie on the ‘new’ end of the axis of new/old media. For another example, Bolter and Grusin’s idea of remediation gives as a requirement to new media a structural occurrence in the natural evolution of  older media.


Reading Summary, Lister — New Media

In this document, Lister explains that “new” media isn’t necessarily new.  By this, he means that although something that seems and is advertised to us as new often isn’t, as it has some form of history or precedent which has merely been modified to either seem new, or to present some new features, much as a software developer releases new iterations of the same general process, with new features.  (I.e. Windows 7, 8, 9/Television, Digital Television).  Often it is hard to describe something as completely new, though the process in which it is implemented can be drastically changed, such as television now no longer using antennae.


Also, another key concept discussed in Lister would be interactivity, and its history of implementation.  He explains that interactivity is what allows us choice in how and what we do with the technology given to us, and grants us the ability to search and expand our experience through these media in order to get what we want out of it.  Such choice would allow us to dictate how we listen and relate to others communicating through this technology.  Lister iterates that we are no longer passive receivers of the media any longer, and that we are more active in the sense that we choose how we implement and use media.

Week 4 Reading Summary

This weeks reading is about not the characteristics of New Media but about what makes them new or what goes into, “considering their newness” as Lister says. There are several ways to examine the newness of new media. First off you need to know the history before you can determine if anything is new. If you want to determine something as new you need to know what already exists or existed. Also something may appear to be new on the surface but a closer look reveals it to be otherwise. The point of the critical thinking is to not take things for granted and it can be done by simply asking how a product came to be? Looking at the history to reveal the significance of the present technology. TV is made an example of to further the idea of knowing the history. Digital TV can be argued to not be a new medium but a new way of delivering the contents of the TV medium. You used to watch it on the television and now we watch it on phones, computers, tablets, etc., but it is still the same television. On the other hand the technology to convey television has changes drastically such as programming, consumption, and modes of use.

The case study, What is new about interactivity,  talks about its history starting as far back as 1940. Interactivity has been thought of in numerous ways. First off it was used with the idea of interactive databases which would free people to learn all kinds of information. Next we have interactive linked to consumerism, where consumers now have a voice and active choices because of marketing personal computers and connecting them to ideas of consumer choice. You can pick the magazine you want, and the news website, and you have a choice in what you consume. The next idea concerning interactivity is about the death of the author. Since everyone can add, delete, or edit some information on the internet anyone can become an author. This leads to the user creating their own pathways and journey to gather knowledge across the internet. The author is no longer writing that journey of knowledge, the user is discovering it for themselves. Next was the graphical interface which allows people to more easily communicate and interact with the computers, instead of simply feeding the computer data and waiting for it to analyze the data. Sophistication led to boxes and menus and eventually the GUI we are used to today. Interactivity is rich in history and also in diversity of that history making it a perfect study for the idea of the new and what it is.

Lister New Media (51-59) Coldiron 9/20/2011

In pages 51-59 lister discusses What kind of history new media has. He wants us to think about where this media has come from and what has preceeded it. In class we discussed the online broadcast of a concert with a chatroom included with it. To think about what has made this possible and what came before it we can think how this existed way back when teh beetles were playing on the television and people were calling their freinds chatting about it.

Lister wants us to think about how new something is or if it is just a different way of doing the same thing. Such as watching this concert it is not very different from the past where they would play their music on the television and talk about it over the phone. Its a different way of doing the same things that we used to do in the past. Another example is how new is online streaming of music. I do not think its very new because you could have heard music from the radio since it was invented. Its the same idea, being in a remote location with no one around and still being able to hear music.

Though it is hard to determine between new and old media we do it everyday without thinking. We determine whats new even if it really is not all that new. There are old things that made this new media possible. Thinking about the teleological path it took to become what it is today. No such advances could have happened without small steps in the process.

Lister – New Media Reading p.77-80

In these pages of the reading, Lister presents the views of two theologists, Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams. McLuhan believes that changes in media technologies caused large cultural shifts (“Revolutionary”). Williams on the other hand, believes that a particular technology has no guarantee of cultural or social significance. (“business as usual”). These varying views spark a debate on the role of new media in society. Thus McLuhan believing in the idea of technological determinism (technology shapes us) and Williams believing that we as a society determine wether a technolgy is useful or not (we shape technology).

Lister writes about how Williams apparently won the debate, though McLuhan has relevant ideas that relate to the cyberspace and an electronic culture. Lister states how Williams’ views are purely humanist, and McLuhan’s views technology as extensions of the human body.

McLuhan and Williams have two very different perceptions of technology and its influences.  Williams believes in the idea of social shaping of technology.  This is the idea that society influences technology.  He sees technologies being improved to better human experience as well as the need for a specific technology to accomplish certain tasks.  McLuhan takes on a more technological deterministic point of view in which the newly developed technology will change the behavior of mankind.

The two also differ in the outcomes.  McLuhan believes that all of the outcomes are determinate while Williams argues that depending on the social environment one technology could be used in multiple ways that are unpredictable.

Lastly, in the reading Williams talks about technology as a medium.  He uses the example of photography.  The actual process of creating a picture with the use of chemicals, he refers to a technological process where as the depiction of the picture and its representation is the actual medium according to Williams.  In this section he describes two aspects of a medium, the first as a reification of a social process and the second as material.  He describes a medium as a reification of a social process as not being a set of given characteristics but rather the experience.  While most people believe that an artist’s medium is the tools he uses to create a work of art, Williams argues that it is once again part of a bigger picture that betters mankind.

Lister 77-80

In this section Lister begins to talk about two different theologists, Marshall McLuhan and Raymond Williams, who both did their research in the 1960’s and 70’s.  Lister mentions that while both of these theologists had ideas about technological determinism before the “computer age” as we know it, both of these people’s ideas still have meaning in the modern day.  McLuhan believed that society could be shaped and controlled by new advancements in technology and the new types of media that come with it.  Williams, while also talking about new media, believed that new technologies had no effect on shaping society; it was humans and society that shaped the technology itself.  As Williams says “media can only take effect through already present social processes and structures and will therefore reproduce existing patterns of use and basically sustain existing power relations. (Lister 78).   Long story short, McLuhan believe technological determinism exists, Williams does not.

Lister explains that McLuhan’s number of followers is growing due to the fact that his ideas preach thinking of technology and media in new and different ways, as opposed to Williams “daily business”, not-much-change attitude when it comes to technology.  Williams was one of the founding fathers of British media and cultural studies, which have become some of the staples of modern day media studies.  Lister mentions that anytime he may mention that technology is controlled by society and humans, and is not in part to technological determinism in any way, he is crediting Williams.  While he believes Williams had won the debate back in the day, it was McLuhan whose ideas are now being applauded and respected.  Williams defined technology in a humanist perspective, that we are the cause for what we learn, what we do, and what new technologies and media we may think up.


Lister 66-73

Ok, this continues to be an interesting read. Lister is still talking about the cultural shaping and framing of new and old media based on our desires and insecurities.  He is also talking about how some media inherent traditions of past and under what conditions it was birthed.

Is new media always better than old? I think there will always be people that hope for the best, in a new technology, while some will cling to what they know. And some will use new technology to cover up things they perceive as weaknesses in themselves. I have done that…

Media is a tool. Technology is a tool. People will shape and bend those tools for both good and bad. These tools can carry political messages and agendas (both purposefully and accidentally) buy the ways they were created and for what group’s interest they were created for.  They can take on power by where and when they were created and by what nitch they fill. And the effects of people, in time, can change a tool to be used beyond its original purpose.  Media and people are connected…

The case studies were interesting. Overall, it was an interesting look at influence, framing, sheeple, and “ground well-trodden.”

Lister 60-65

Lister 60-65

Not sure where Lister was driving in this one because I am from the camp that people build on what they know. Even a “new media” idea has to carry some affordance for it to have any adoption. With-out adoption… the idea sits dead. People draw on what they understand to perceive their world around them. This does tend to shackle new media to its connection of the past.

An example of this is when I showed my pinball skirts to Kevin. They had drawings of spaceships fighting each other. Kevin correctly guessed, “Are they fighter jets? Or maybe space ships?” I assume that when Gottlieb’s team decided to draw those ships, they drew on what they knew of modern day fighter jets. This gave them a template to draw them and it helped build in some affordance for the masses to be able to easily and quickly recognize them. They have the same basic shape of air-fighter jets and they even have wings. Are wings needed on a ship in space… no… but they were accepted as standard “idealized” equipment in the 1980’s by most people.

It is a neat idea about new media transporting people to a new view of the past. When a picture is worth a thousand words, so neat would it be… to be as I could see and walk the streets of Rome. But there is a devil in the details. And that devil is called “our lens of focus.” An example of this is in how stories of Saints, Knights, and thieves have changed through the ages. Most of these stories have changed because of the wants, needs, and cultures of the audiences have warped the details of their stories.  Culture shapes… and some things that were once very important can become not as significant. Even the “Experience Machine” with its full ability to make things seem real, would not be able to get me past my own “lens of focus” and the expectations I carry with me. I cannot… truly… walk in your shoes because I perceive things as I am… nor could I ever fully walk the streets of ancient Rome with-out walking in my American shoes.

Neat read! Though, I am probably way out of whack here.     😉

Lister Reading (Pages 89-94 And 94-99)

For my reading summary I read two sections of the Lister reading, so this will be two separate articles posted within one blog post. The first article I will be explaining is section 1.6.4 The Many Virtues of Saint McLuhan (pg. 89 – 94). This Article talks about McLuhan’s theories of technological determinism. Article two, which is section 1.6.5 The Extent of the ‘Extensions of Man’ and section 1.6.6. A New Focus For Old Debates: Science And Technology Studies, which goes deeper into McLuhan’s extension thesis from the previous section and discusses the relation between the natural and the human sciences.

1.6.4 The Many Virtues of Saint McLuhan

In this section of the article (pg. 89-94) Lister looks at McLuhan’s ideas of technological determinism. These three are broken down as 1) the extension thesis, 2) the environmental thesis, and 3) the anti-content thesis. These theses are based on his thoughts of Raymond Williams theory of technological determinism. In his first thesis (the extension thesis), states that technology is an ‘extension of man,’ (McLuhan 1964) which expresses the functional differences in human capabilities introduced by the new technology. This idea was related to the philosophy of Aristotle by the idea that tools are extensions of the soul and body. The basis of this theory explains how technology is rooted in the natural capacities or forms of that body, which alters its environment. The second of McLuhan’s thesis’s (the environmental thesis), goes on to explain that new media is not the bridge between man and nature: they are nature. (McLuhan 1969: 14). This thesis suggests that the number of technologies a society uses, the more qualitative change in the structure and functioning of that society and also technology becomes dependent on determining its own future and that of the society it shapes. McLuhan’s final thesis (the anti-content thesis), proclaims that societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. McLuhan’s analyses are based on the body, the senses, and the technological environment.

1.6.5 The Extent of the ‘Extensions of Man’

In this section Lister explains more about the McLuhan and Williams debate and the question of whether it is a machine’s users that is in control of what they are using, or whether the machine in some sense determines how it is used. The uses of a technology is not to study the technology, itself, but to analyze and contest the beliefs that determines its uses. This section mentions that technology has become a big part of our life and how in sciences such as biology technology has become almost inseparable. The idea of how technology is such a big part of our everyday lives is mentioned and how almost everything we do now deals with technology of some sort.

1.6.6. A New Focus For Old Debates: Science And Technology Studies

In section 1.6.6 Lister talks about the relation between the natural and the human sciences. If William’s view is correct, then the cultural sciences focus on different entities altogether than the natural sciences. On the other hand, if McLuhan’s view is considered to be correct, then no division of the ‘natural’ and ‘cultural’ sciences is viable. Other view’s were also mentioned in the section, so the relationship between culture and nature is still undetermined and no specific view is considered to be considered correct.