In Response to Alan Liu’s- “Imagining the New Media Encounter”

Historical Books from William Hoiles Basking Ridge.

After reading Alan Liu’s Imagining the New Media Encounter once more and taking notes I feel I can offer my thoughts. Firstly I do think it is hard to summarise because it is such a dense piece which poses many deep questions.

However, the main points which stand out for me combine different strands, intertextually combined. Liu is suggesting that we are seeing ourselves within the new media which is the new medium for the ‘other’; a reflection of ourselves and society.

I enjoyed his overview of the encounter which I take to mean the meeting of two mediums, the transition from one to the next. So if we take the transition between the physical book and the kindle version as an example we get an understanding of the evolution which needs to take place in order to shift from the book to the kindle, the parts we will miss, the parts we will gain..
I found Lui’s idea is that the transition which occurs here, in all its complexity, unpredicatability and personal as well as social aspects revert back to the individuals involvement. The observing of ourselves as a component within the interaction is in my understanding a fundamental concept of great importance. As well as being a part of the interaction with the different mediums, the mediums are also extensions of oursleves.

The decentralisation of digital media which makes information and education accessible to all who have interenet access and the democratising potential this has is where his main argument lies. This quite possibly be the tool which destabilises capitalism, as there is no central steering means of control. However, precisely due to this fact, we cannot predict where digital media is going to take us.

Lui goes on to comment about the ecology of the medium in that it is in a process of neverending evolution and change of which everyone who wishes to be, is apart of. But who says what can be posted on the web and how is this regulated..?

I was listening on Thursday morning to a relevant piece (on the wireless…Radio 1) with Joe Duffy interviewing  journalists from within Ireland and also from America (I think it was California). It was clear  how they are using social media as a means of obtaining news stories and communicating with the world; quick information, easily and readily accessible.. Then you had the opposing die hard traditionalist who vouched for buying the paper and sitting back with a cup of coffee to feel it, read it and absorb the experience of it. I have to say, I headed straight for the coffee shop…


A Response to “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere” by Christian Vandendorpe.

Christian Vandendorpe’s “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere” Reading from the Screen the New Media Sphere
Vandendorpe brought the aspect of Christianity and it’s historical involvement with the codex medium to a stark reality for me. Seen as a form of liberation yet also as a form of control is very interesting and very relevant, making one wonder about the use of the internet as a means of control. My ears also picked up when I read further when Vandendorpe discussed the advent of silent reading which enabling readers to take their own time to absorb and understand the text at their own pace within context of the monastries of the 12th Centutry. Vandendorpe brings to the forefront the aspect of reading which is vitally important in regards to the individual’s autonomy.As well as being a means of escape, the novel serves the purpose of shutting the world out and entering into another ‘virtual reality’.  With the world wide web’s creation in 1993 the challenge became clearer to the books’ longevity and at the same time providing a glimpse into the opportunities and potential the web has for a world wide library and resource.

Grazing, browsing and hunting are concepts which Vandendorpe uses and relates to the book itself as a medium which provides an avenue for all to be utilised. He draws comparison with the web, highlighting that it really only provides opportunity for browsing and hunting. The aim of which he states is to incorporate grazing for the new form of reading to be established.
On the World Service today there was a piece with a publisher in the UK being interviewed on exactly this, the closure of publishing houses and bookshops and the future of books. She seemed to think that books are already dying out and the bookshop will probably remain, albeit only to serve the purpose of a day out… as a showcase for books.. I thought, as I listened to this how relevant it was regarding Vandendorpe’s essay and further on where he focuses on the evolution of the book in the form of the e-book and the future of reading on screen, as with the kindle. Vandedrope sees the future of reading to be via the digital book, with digital pages (which I couldn’t quite grasp) and the death of the author as all texts are hyperlinked to all the others..(as we are already experiencing)

However why stop there? Will the cognitive act of reading actually be fased out eventually? Surely with technology advancing as it is it won’t be necessary in a few hundred years time. Now that’s science fiction in the making!

Vandendorpe continued to discuss reading style and within this he provides useful and practical tools. He states that people read online text easier with no more than 70 characters to a line and in columns rather than one wide amount, just like in magazines and newspapers..

Work Cited.

Christian Vandendorpe’s “Reading on the Screen: The New Media Sphere”

Electronic Scholarly Editions

I found Kenneth Prices piece Elecrtonic Scholarly Editions to be much more accessible than the previous and I found a few points to be of specific interest. He writes about the archiving of libraries and what is included/excluded and where does the limit come with inclusion. Do we, for example include the food shopping lists of W.B Yeats into his archives as a true  and transparent representation of the author? Fron a sociological perspective I would say, yes of course. It may sound strange but if we are wanting to grasp an understanding of an author, the age and culture in which h/she was a part of then we need to be documenting everything. This, arguably would give a much deeper understanding of his work, how he makes lists and an insight into the workings of his mind. However, where does this process then stop? This would entail huge amounts of work, money and time of dedicated scholars. Who finances this? Is it undertaken by undergraduates who as part of their education assist in the creation of archives?But then, how ‘correct’ is this work for publication for the world to see? Who ‘controls’ or regulates the work, are there guidelines on ethics to adheare to and who creates these? 

Is the democratization of the web truly democratic or is it still confined to parameters of hierarchical regulation? Is there truly a voice for the people? This brings me onto the next point of the intertextuality of the web. This is very interesting, As we saw in class a few weeks ago, a text online can have a link which takes you onto the reference which it associates with. For example, T.S Eliots The Waste Land with its multitude of citation to classical literature which , unless you have somewhat of an understanding about you are lost within the reading. From a democratising perspective this could make dense texts certainly more accessible to those willing to take the time to read, and by read I mean close read. I am thinking of someone in a rural, developing country who may not have access to a wonderful library but they do have the opportunity to access online computers. The web could make a huge difference to their lives, their society and open up some very interesting discussions cross culturally. Could people from these developing countries be employed to contribute to the archiving as part of an online education programme? Yes it certainly is capitalism  with a new face but there is also the argument that it creates employment and contributes to the greater whole. Are there intellectual ethical boundaries that would make it nearly impossible for someone without a recognized Western education from taking part? Interesting.


I also took a look at Katherine Hayles How we Read: Close, Hyper, Machine whilst cooking dinner the other night. She spoke about the monotonous, repetitive task of scrolling and skim reading through web ‘pages’ like I admit I do when writing essays in order to find the parts which are most useful to what I need for my work at hand. Close reading has all but gone, especially in academia and the art of skimming has taken precedent to such an extent that many of us no longer  do any close reading. We text, tweet an article of interest (that may or may not have been properly read), and are becoming experts in the quick and fast nature of a consumerist society. Only the consumerism is, in this sense, knowledge based. Hayles also spoke about the brain being reprinted into reading like this, actually reprogrammed through the repetitive nature into a mode which facilitates the pace we all need to keep up with, creating the ‘F’ shape style which Oerla mentioned in class a few weeks back.

One thing which seems to me to be failed to have been mentioned is the fact that when I sit for a few hours in front of a computer, my eyes hurt. I need to get up, walk around, have a cuppa etc fairly regularly. How conducive is this to human physiology? And socially, Is it not isolating people and creating a more individualised society in which we check our emails before we have breakfast or look at our phone whilst having a cup with a friend or loved one. Where does this take us as a society of social beings? Social society is digitalised. I sat on a bis the other day, six out of the eight sittin gclose to me had phones or ipods out and were engrossed in them, thats some percentage!


My area of interest is how the digital media effects our sense of touch. And what touch means through digital media. Social forums which create networks of ‘friends’ who you may never see, virtual chatrooms which create forums for  ‘voices’ to be heard but they seem to be fairly anonymous. Maybe that’s why we are either obsessive about it or reluctant to get started!?


Anyway, my area of interest for my blog is touch, social forums providing a voice for new mums and actually , not sure how to bring it! Ideas welcome and does anyone have the address of last years class website to have a quick look at?