IAT 811 – Week 6, New Media

New media, new media, new media, new media … new new media, newer … and so on. It’s happening fast and if you blink you miss it – just like driving through a small town within the interior of British Columbia. In the chapter “New Media” from the book “”, author Mark B.N. Hansen performs an overview of media and its continual renewal, ever-broadening landscape, and emerging evolution as moves from a distinction between the technology that delivers the media and the content itself, to a fused entity that offers “massive connectivity” via Web 2.0’s igniting of social media.

There are two prominent themes in this chapter (I’m all about the themes in case you haven’t noticed by now!): duality, and paradox. The first mention of duality is when new media is looked at as both a singular as well as a plural, singular being separate from the technical means to transmit, store, and share the media, and plural in that it is too engrained and part of the technology that is evolving and being innovated. Another example is reference to Marshal McLuhan’s coupling of media form and media use – yet both are separate but can be seen as one.

Yet another refers to French philosopher Bernard Stiegler who noticed the intimate relationship with all technology that humans make and how they are always a part of our evolving patterns of advancement (Stiegler uses the terms cortex and silex for the human component and the physical world around use respectively). And one last example being the reference to Web 2.0 where the content and the connectivity become intertwined and yet are very separate parts of what make up social media (which can exist separately but are a larger sum than the parts).

The example of paradox is where Friedrich Kittler is quoted as saying that computers are “becoming ever more necessary” and that people “are becoming ever more contingent”. Media doesn’t exist without us and yet we are becoming less significant than the media that we create? Perhaps a duality and a paradox together.

Using current events to underscore duality, a recent article (https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/how-our-likes-helped-trump-win) came up entitled “The Data That Turned the World Upside Down”, written by Hannes Grassegger and Mikael Krogerus at Vice.com, where Michal Kosinski unwittingly helped come up with a psychometric model to help identify specific profiles from users’ social media data using microtargeting which Donald Trump used in his election campaign. The psychometric model used is known as the OCEAN model, where OCEAN is an acronym based on: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism (i.e., levels of anxiety).

This model was used to target individual social media users and “speak” to their profile or type of user whereas Hillary Clinton’s campaign used demographics. The article states that Trump’s “fickleness” and “inconsistencies” made him act “like a perfectly opportunistic algorithm”. Whether or not this blatant abuse of contextual data helped Donald Trump win, is inconsequential. What it delineates is that this new social media (and its technology) can be used for both good as well as bad. But it also showing the content and connectivity being a “singular”.

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