The Language of New Media – Chapter 5

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Lev Manovich

In Chapter 5 of Lev Manovich’s book, “The Language of New Media,” Manovich discusses the intertwining and often competing goals of information access and psychological engagement in electronic media. Citing the differences between media such as novels and cinema versus computer database media, he addresses the relationship between database information and the historically more traditional narrative information.

Manovich remains consistent in his ongoing analysis of old media versus new media, and new media’s interference with and transformation of old media. He uses a great example in discussing the creation of CD-ROM virtual tours of museums as a substitute for actual tours. This automatically took me back to the captivating film episode from John Berger’s “Ways of Seeing”.

Manovich broadens his scope to include not only databases and CD-ROMs, but also video games, embedded links and even Web-based pornography. He illustrates the dichotomy between database and narrative by pointing out the presence of order and flow in narrative, and the lack thereof in database.

However – in discussing the semiotics associated with database, he acknowledges a shared dynamic in imagery between database and narrative. This dynamic will continue to play itself out in the form of digital cinematography and other digital imagery, as well as digital animation and editing.

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