In the last post, I discussed the ages of print. Today, I’ll be talking about the individuality in new media.
For a piece of media to be “independent”, it must be “modular”. To do this, according to Lev Manovich, fragments of information must maintain their own unchanged identity when their use is to contribute to a larger project. This is evident when using jpeg images and embedding YouTube videos into a Google Slides presentation. They retain their individual identities and sense of purpose. Linking my previous blog to this post is using modularity, because while there is a link between two posts, they exist as separate entities. The process of combining modular units indefinitely leads to the term variability and this means we have an individual choice of how we interact with the Web. These possibilities are endless as to how we can create combinations of modular units to make something new as well as how we engage with them.
When it comes to traditional media, there is already individuality present. Various forms of storytelling including movies, novels and video games allow everyone to experience a story in their own way especially in terms of different-media adaptations. Often times, viewers and even creators have different interpretations of a text or piece of media and gives us our own unique perspective. A prime example of this is the popular Last of Us show on HBO Max. The show was based off the original video game and the showrunners had a different interpretation of events and characters in the game, leading to two versions of The Last of Us with their own identities. But new media takes this a step further.
The difference between traditional media and digital media is that the latter can be indefinitely expanded. When an author writes and prints a book, the events of the narrative cannot change. This is why I take so long when I write narratives for fun. But online, information can be added or deleted without fundamentally altering the purpose of a text.
This is what Manovich refers to as a “cultural form” which shows on the Internet. With these blog posts, we can always go back and edit them. But a printed essay, we would have to rewrite an entirely new, separate paper. This promotes the idea that the Internet consists of endless databases.