New Media

New Media

New Media

New Media


Digital media are rapidly changing the world in which we live. Global communications, mobile interfaces and Internet cultures are re-configuring our everyday lives and experiences. To understand these changes, a new theoretical imagination is needed, one that is informed by a conceptual vocabulary that is able to cope with the daunting complexity of the world today. This book draws on writings by leading social and cultural theorists to assemble this vocabulary. It addresses six key concepts that are pivotal for understanding the impact of new media on contemporary society and culture: information, network, interface, interactivity, archive and simulation. Each concept is considered through a range of concrete examples to illustrate how they might be developed and used as research tools. An inter-disciplinary approach is taken that spans a number of fields, including sociology, cultural studies, media studies and computer science.


Concepts are centres of vibrations, each in itself and every one in relation to all

Deleuze and Guattari (1994: 23)

The title of this book – New Media: The Key Concepts – appears self-explanatory. It suggests a book about the core concepts needed for the study of 'new' media technologies such as personal computers, MP3 players, mobile phones and other digital communications and storage devices. The quest for such concepts is indeed one aspect of the present work, but at the same time this book is no dictionary or encyclopaedia: it does not simply list concepts and definitions. Instead, it has a different purpose: to look, in particular, at six key concepts that facilitate theoretical and critical analysis of the new media age. The focus of this book is thus not simply the technical workings of new media technologies, although these will be touched upon in brief. Rather, the aim is to identify and define concepts for the analysis of emergent, highly technologized forms of social life and culture, and to look at how these concepts might be operationalized as keys for unlocking problems and barriers encountered in such research. The concepts to be studied here are: network, information, interface, archive, interactivity and simulation. It might be objected that by focusing in detail on only six concepts this book is a partial account, for many other concepts are needed for a comprehensive understanding of the new media age. This, of course, is true. But it is our belief that the six concepts chosen for study in this book are among the primary concepts required for this purpose. Together, when placed into contact with each other and also other concepts both old (such as power) and new (such as protocol or posthuman), they form a basic framework for analysis of contemporary society and culture; one which is intended to be open-ended and provisional, and which calls for further work by its very design.

Concepts, however, are difficult things to study. Like technologies they are not static entities, and because of this they are hard to pin down and analyse. One reason . . .

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