Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Understanding New Media: Chapters 34-43

     At this point, we are at Part III of the book which concerns the analysis of New Media not dealt with in UM. This section of reading involves mostly digital technology that we more commonly associate with New Media today. Three major technologies discussed are the cell phone, the personal computer, and the Internet. The purpose and capabilities of the cell phone have grown exponentially since its birth. What was once a device used primarily for oral communication void of distal constraints is now a portable computer, mp3, TV, camera, and hand held game device. With technology such as the iPhone, people are more connected and available than ever. Smart phone users have access to the Internet pretty much whenever and wherever. "Basically, the cell phone will eventually morph into an all purpose mobile hand-held terminal for the production, transmission, and reception of all forms of digital information" (219). The book makes it evident through engineers at Ford that cell phone users can "roam through physical space gathering knowledge while at the same time being in touch with all their sources of knowledge and information ranging from voice to text messaging to the World Wide Web" (220). This is a powerful notion. Now humans have unprecedented access to information while also being able to stay super connected with friends, family, and associates. There are also detrimental effects associated with cell phone use. When we use our cell phones, we sacrifice a certain level of our privacy since we are always so accessible and because cell phones could be tracked down. Cell phone conversations could even be recorded without one being aware. An interesting concept brought up in this chapter is that we have become "natural born cyborgs wearing part of their brain outside their skulls and at a price that almost anyone can afford" (221).  McLuhan described electric technology as "total and inclusive," meaning we must expose our minds in order to fully and properly engage ourselves in this technology. Modern technology adapts to the desires of our mind therefore our brain becomes more  metaphorically external.
     The personal computer is another modern device that has greatly advanced since its beginnings. The first computer was initially created to perform complex calculations and manipulations of data. The catalyzed speed of which the Internet is able to solve calculations allowed researchers to study nonlinear equations that led to the discovery of fractals and chaos theory. Through these discoveries, we can conclude that the computer is a powerful source of new insights. On the Internet, information flow is totally decentralized. The information available has little boundaries and is seldom censored. However, the computer often serves a distraction from classes and can sometimes deteriorate the the development of social skills.
    The Internet is definitely a huge milestone for the human race. It is a information processor that serves as the medium for a multitude of communication channels. "The Net and the Web obliterate most monopolies of knowledge" (236). The internet is an open channel of information- one can both publish and have access to information. Once one has access to the Internet, there are little restrictions on attainting information, "there is no hierarchy; each participant has an equal voice and is heard" (241). The internet is also a very powerful marketing tool. It is more economic and easier to create ads. Also, the ad is more likely to be put into circulation because of the accessibility of the Internet and through review websites and blogs. Marketing on the Internet also allows for better feedback so one can evaluate the effectiveness of one's ad. The Internet also serves as a gateway for artistic expression.

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