What is new media?

New media is only new until something newer comes along, so the definition can never be static. Pencils were new media at one time. Someday there will be media that make smartphones look like pencils. For now, it’s reasonable to say that new media is digital–any content created today is easy to digitize, even if it’s written on paper with a pencil–you can just take a photo of it with your smartphone and it’s digital.

Then it can be easily modified into infinitely many versions using software like PhotoShop. This is the second clear quality of new media, discussed by writers like Manovich.

Then your pencil sketch can be sent anywhere and everywhere on the planet (and beyond) via the web, which is the third quality of new media, ubiquity.

There are other qualities worth discussing, like the tension between new media as art and new media as computer software, and whether or not it even makes any sense to say there is a difference. It seems to be mostly a difference of audience perception, which is essentially a rhetorical quality of communication. This means that what the ancient Greek rhetoricians like Aristotle and Isocrates had to say about human communication still applies to new media. Digital, infinitely variable, ubiquitous rhetoric. The human world is essentially created by humans through rhetoric and digitization, if anything, has verified, multiplied, and magnified this relative and subjective truth that the Greeks discovered a few thousand years ago.

Adding vertical line spacing to a post

Hey folks,

Quite often a useful basic design element to add to a post is some vertical line spacing. For example, if you are creating a post that includes text and images it is useful to be able to add a bit of vertical spacing between the text and image. There’s more than one way to to this, but here’s one easy method using buttons in the Classic WP Dashboard.

Thomas Jefferson’s new media

I’ve blogged about the American Philosophical Society museum in Philadelphia previously, and have an RSS feed for them on this blog. Every now and then I notice an article title on the RSS feed that calls to me, and this one on Thomas Jefferson simply reeks of new media stuff. His scientific artwork is incredibly accurate and detailed, and on the APSM site these original works are made available to the public via the web. TJ would have approved, I think. His genius and Renaissance-man qualities still shine after a couple hundred years. The site includes some multimedia texts as well; there are so many ways this provides food for thought about new media of different eras and established cultural forms meeting new technologies. Lev Manovich would probably have something to say about this.

Bruce Sterling and the future of media

A little backstory: I used to subscribe to the Whole Earth Review, back when it was a paper-based post-hippie generation publication for people interested in tools of all sorts and counter-culture stuff. There’s been nothing like it before or since, and you can go to their site and check out the old issues, which is a new media item of interest in itself. Anyway, I still have some of the old ones and read through them every now and then, and today ran across someone who I somehow hadn’t noticed on previous reads, Bruce Sterling. Like most people who had anything to do with the WER, he is quirky and interesting, as a look at his Tumblr site will affirm. Sci-fi writer, editor, and etc., the issue of WER I was perusing (Summer quarter 1993) had his article “Follow Your Weird,” which has some interesting thoughts about new media filtered through 16-ish years of (d)/evolution, and still available in the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s archives. The EFF is a very interesting organization itself, if you are interested in your digital rights, which basically touch almost all your other rights these days. Much gold here to be panned, virtually.

A Real Cyborg

Lee Majors as Steve Austin, 70s TV cyborg
Lee Majors as Steve Austin, 70s TV cyborg; lifting a large styrofoam block
Remember Steve Austin, “a man barely alive . . . “? Only if you are of a certain age and are/were a fan of really awful 70s TV series. If you need to get caught up you can no doubt find the entire series archived on any number of torrent sites. Anyway, now we have real cyborgs, or at least one self-styled cyborg. You can listen to it on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” Taking geek to a new level.

Making Sense of New Media

Radio & Television News magazine cover, 1949
Radio & Television News magazine cover, 1949

WUCF is a Tampa/Sarasota, Florida-based NPR station. Their virtual newsroom has a regular feature, Making Sense of the Media, that analyzes diverse, current media people, events, and trends ranging from the Oregon Standoff to, inevitably, Donald Trump. The articles are all focused on the new media aspect of each topic, like how FaceBook is connected with the Superbowl.

These are archived, approximately four-minute broadcasts, so you can click to listen, read the transcript, and follow the various embedded links. You can also click on the tags to read similar articles, share on FaceBook, Tweet, email the articles, and post comments of your own on the blog.

Making music from any object with Makey Makey

Makey Makey enables you, for a pretty low cost (like $70-ish) to turn any object into a musical instrument; small children of all ages would probably like this, a lot, musicians or not. A meeting of the worlds of music, new media, and Makers.

As an example, check out Spazzkid’s music video involving sushi and cats. Touch the cat’s ear, get a tone. I really would not have believed this…

How to Create an Illustrated Procedure

At this point you’ve created your blog and added a few posts. This exercise asks you to create an illustrated procedure and post it to your blog. It will take the form of a post, and you already know the basics of posting.

  1. Sketch your procedure on paper. This should be a how-to procedure. It could be for any task. It should have between five and seven steps. Each step should represent one user action. Each step should be accompanied by an image.
  2. Continue reading How to Create an Illustrated Procedure

How to Use a Cat as a Doorstop

Cats make ideal doorstops because of their shape and their tendency to stay in one place for long periods of time, often sleeping. This procedure explains how to use a cat as a doorstop.

  1. Obtain a cat. This should be easy, as cats are plentiful everywhere. You can try animal shelters or pet stores.
    Pile of Cats
    Figure 1: Cats are Plentiful! Image courtesy of Flickr creative commons

    Note: Do not use a kitten! They are too small and active. You need to find an adult cat, the older and larger, the better. It is also best to avoid feral cats (like you may find at many city parks) as they are probably not vaccinated and may scratch and bite.

  2. Place the cat in front of the door to be held open.
  3. Cat doorstop
    Figure 2: Cat in Place as Doorstop Image courtesy of Flickr creative commons

Voila! That’s it! You have a doorstop that will serve you for many years to come with only modest maintenance costs.