Seminar Notes: Meeting 3 (Permanence + Ephemerality)
Before we discuss “The Enduring Ephemeral, or the Future Is a Memory”, let's quickly review Manovich's five principles of new media. And then during our discussion, let's focus on the following remarks that Chun makes in her article:
- "key to the newness of the digital is a conflation of memory and storage that both underlies and undermines digital media's archival promise" (148)
- "The major characteristic of digital media is memory" (154)
- "I contend that this uncertainty stems not from the lack of devices such as the memex but from the act of reading itself" (159)
- "Digital media, which is allegedly more permanent and durable than other media (film stock, paper, and so on), depends on a degeneration actively denied and repressed. This degeneration, which engineers would like to divide into useful and harmful (eraseability versus signal decomposition, information versus noise) belies the promise of digital computers as permanent memory machines. If our machines’ memories are more permanent, if they enable a permanence that we seem to lack, it is because they are constantly refreshed so that their ephemerality endures, so that they may store the programs that seem to drive our machines" (167)
- "To put it most bluntly, this nonsimultaneity of the new—this enduring ephemeral—means we need to get beyond speed as the defining feature of digital media or global networked communications" (170)
- "The pressing questions are, Why and how is it that the ephemeral endures? And what does the constant repetition and regeneration of information effect? What loops and what instabilities does it introduce into the logic of programmability?" (171)
Where are there overlaps and tensions between how Chun and Manovich approach new media?
Elsewhere, in "Media Studies and the Digital Humanities," Tara McPherson writes:
- "With a few exceptions, we remain content to comment about technology and media, rather than to participate more actively in constructing knowledge in and through our objects of study" (120)
And in "Why Are the Digital Humanities So White?" she writes:
- "scholars must engage the vernacular digital forms that make us nervous, authoring in them in order to better understand them and to recreate in technological spaces the possibility of doing the work that moves us" (n. pag.)
Why make these arguments right now? What are the ostensible benefits of McPherson's suggestions? Why might we be reluctant or skeptical?
How are new media studied as scholarly objects, and how are they integrated into modes/means of scholarly production?
How can we make arguments about mediation through new media, and to what effects on our expectations of scholarly communication?
How and under what assumptions do we approach new media as historical material? For instance, when and why does it matter that we are studying digital versions of analog/print materials? Or what assumptions motivate references to "source" code?