Information Age Essay, Research Paper
The 20th century has seen extraordinary growth in technology; however, it has only been in the last decade that this boom in information has been accessible to the entire world through new technologies like computers and the Internet. These new technologies have found their way into areas of modern culture, such as photography, print, and film, enhancing its potential through its creation of CD-ROMs, websites, and computer games, terming the phrase “new media” which “represents the new cultural forms that depend on digital computers for distribution.” Consequently, the challenge not only becomes how to accommodate increasing information, but also how to organize information in new media. Through examples given in lecture, it is shown that the strategies in organizing information in this “new media” are not new, but have drawn from the techniques seen in more traditional forms of media. Focusing specifically on the organizational methods used in graphical user interfaces and the Web, the same techniques can be traced to modern art and video because, as a whole, culture and human behavior does not change.
As Manovich said in his lecture, “While we now rely on computers to create, store, distribute and access culture, we are still using the same techniques developed in the 1920’s.” The avant-garde of the 1920’s has become the standard computer technology of today. These techniques have become materialized through the computer and its interface. For example, the avant-garde cinematic techniques of temporal montage and montage within a shot found its way into new media and became the key feature of all computer interfaces, known as windows. Like shots of a film, interface windows containing information could be presented all at once within the screen (montage within a shot). However, since the windows are opaque, users are forced to see one window at a time (temporal montage). Both techniques are at play in the Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) in today’s computers. I believe that the montage was so revolutionary because it presented a new way of seeing the world. Early filmmakers presented humans with the option of two pleasures, getting as much information as possible, and a way to absorb it in an organized manner. And in this age of increased information, human behavior has remained unchanged only to become stronger. Society wants more information and more control. As a result, GUIs inherit the characteristics of the montage to provide overlapping and resizable windows of unlimited amounts of information all at the user’s fingertips.
Another area of modern culture that has influenced the techniques of organizing information in new media is video. For example, in Lynnfield’s lecture, he presents a video by Gary Hill called “Site Recite.” Lunenfield describes it as a “continuous movement through a dataspace.” In short, users are taken on a fluid experience where series of objects are revealed and users are presented with infinite scenarios and possibilities in which choices are expected to be made. This video, as described by Lynnfield, plays on human’s need for exploration, visual stimulation, and interaction. Evidence of this can be seen in the success of film and video games. This is a reason why information on the Web is presented and organized as it is. There are millions of websites on the World Wide Web, full of information and loaded with imagery and visuals. More importantly, the “web” is connected by links in a way that there is not starting point or ending point on the Internet. Through hypertext and hypermedia, infinite amounts of information are linked together in a space only activated my user interaction. With these techniques, users of the Internet are emerged in a seemingly endless environment where humans can achieve the have satisfaction exploring new worlds and gaining new information with just one click of a button.
As human behavior and culture remain constant, accessing and organizing information in areas of modern culture or in new media will also remain unchanged, only to see growth in technology and information.
Alfredo H. Vilano Jr.
ICAM 110 Spring 2000
May 10, 2000
PAPER # 2
NEW TECHNOLOGY, NEW POSSIBILITES
The growth of the Internet of over the past couple years has dramatically changed the way humans communicate, learn, entertain, do business, and shop… just to name a few. It has become a part of human society. Through the Internet, any person with a computer and a modem can access an infinite amount of information and services. Anything from your bank account to groceries can be acquired through the Web. It has also allowed people to share and distribute anything from text files to music. One possibility the Web offers is distribution of artistic works through the Internet. Digitized images and sound files can easily be accessed or shared by anyone and can be used for anything. In addition, with the advent of new technology in digital filmmaking, video can now be widely distributed and acquired. However, is this a good thing? What does this all mean? Is anyone going to be affected by this? Personally, I think that this new possibility of video distribution on the Web is a positive step in art making because it allows for a greater number of artists, who do not have a Hollywood budget, an opportunity to produce art that will reach people worldwide. It also allows people who are not into the filmmaking industry to be creative and express their artistic ability. I also believe that the relations between big companies and independent filmmakers will improve due to this technology.
During pre-internet years, artists used traditional video cameras to shoots rolls and rolls of film, which were distributed by professional producers and companies in movie theatres and video rental stores. Now with new forms of technology such as digital camcorders and the internet, the way films are made and distributed and the rule as to who will be able to make films are changing. Currently, a person can log on to the Internet, search through a database of digital movies and films, and instantly download the movie of their choice and watch it on their computer using viewing technologies such as QuickTime and RealPlayer. One example of this technology is through the website of the Digital Film Festival.1 At this site, a number of independent filmmakers who use inexpensive digital video technology are showcased and users can view their work in a matter of seconds with a click of a button. This opportunity is great because first, artists who have the talent but not the big budgets of Hollywood studios can make good quality films with new and affordable equipment that wasn’t available for artists outside the film industry a few years ago. Second, artists, who are again lacking in funds for major promotion and distribution by big companies, are given the opportunity to showcase their work inexpensively for the whole world to be seen.
Another advantage of this new technology is that it extends to people who are not considered “filmmakers.” In Bart Cheever’s lecture, he showed two videos done by hip-hop DJ Q-Bert. Both were incredibly entertaining packed with sound, editing, and special effects. It showed that even a person in the music industry can express creativity and use the new technologies to do what once took an entire team to do: write, shoot, mix sound, edit, create graphics, and visual effects. Another example is from Adriene Jenik’s lecture, where she showed a web chat room called “Palace”(?), with the addition of avatars that users could create and adorn to represent themselves in a chat room. Again, new technologies are allowing ordinary people, in this case the users, to be artistic and creative in an environment they choose and to have their work be seen and interact with other members in the chat room.
So where does this put the big companies and studios? I think that the new opportunities and technologies for amateur filmmakers through the Web pose no threat to the big companies. As big as a few independent films may get (Blaire Witch Project), money talks and will always talk. People will always mob to see the new blockbuster hit starring Leonardo Di Caprio. If anything it will improve the relations between them because as more people become exposed to films and filmmaking through the World Wide Web, the love for the art, whether professional or amateur, will flourish as well.