Remediation is a term used to describe the evolution of Multimedia. Here I look at Remediation from the Printing Press to Blogging.
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‘We’re in a moment of time in which there’s been an explosion of new media technologies which makes it possible for the average person to archive, annotate, recreate, recirculate media, to create their own blogs, to create their own podcasts, to sample, retool, media in a variety of ways. This is an enormously empowering moment.. there has always been an urge to create media but never before have we had such a powerful platform for the distribution for amateur produced media.’Henry Jenkins 2007 (http://www.thoughtcast.org/thoughtcast-shorts/beyond-broadcast-2007/)
21st century technologies have given us the power to easily spread our ideas and thoughts through the Internet and both written and video blogging. While printing presses and ham radio gave generations before us the opportunity to spread their ideas, nothing has changed about how and why humans communicate, only the way we do it.
Marshall McLuhan suggests that ‘the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print’. (Page 8, 1964) .
According to McLuhan (Page 89, 1964) many of the values associated with our Western world have already been considerably affected by the electric media of telephone, radio and TV. Many Computer applications and websites are hybrids of different forms of media . An example of this is the Encyclopedia Britannica, 2002, given to consumers with the then Packard Bell Software package supplied with new computers. The CDROM interface gave the user the opportunity to use images and audio clips taken from books, magazines, films, TV programmes and news. All of the content of the CDROM was in some way remediated. The Encyclopedia itself had been available in print form, photographs had been remediated into graphic images.
When Gutenburg developed the Printing press one of the main problems was that large amounts of the population were still illiterate. An example of how this problem was overcome in the 20th century was when the Black Panther Party was in its foundation stages in Oakland CA. Emory Douglas’s art was used in almost every issue of the Black Panther magazine which was aimed at protecting and promoting African American communities. At that time, many of the community were illiterate. In order to spread the word of emancipation, the message had to take a graphic form so all members of the community could understand it. (news story on France 24 December 28th 2008 5.40 GMT http://www.france24.com/en/20081223-Raphaelle-Ricol-Black-Panthers) Emory Douglas’s artwork was remediated from its original graphic artwork form to print.
The Convergence between old and new media is so commonplace that there is an ambivalence towards it. In the run up to the 2008 US Presidential election, CNN asked its viewers to submit questions for the Democratic Candidates. These questions were uploaded by thousands of viewers to YouTube. (http://ie.youtube.com/democraticdebate – Broadcast on July 23rd 2007) Henry Jenkins in his book Convergence Culture, observes that this was a convergence of old media, CNN, (television network) and YouTube, new media (video blogging site). (Page 290) No one thinks about these different forms of media but expects that the news story will be available across platforms.
Many People put the success of Barack Obama’s Presidential campaign down to his ability to run a campaign across different platforms. In his blog (http://henryjenkins.org/2008/11/whew_i_am_still_trying.html) Henry Jenkins says ‘Obama has been the man for all platforms’ a campaign which was as comfortable on You Tube or Second Life as it was on Network television, … and more importantly, understood the political process through a lens of media convergence, seeing old and new media, grassroots and corporate media working hand in hand to shape his public image and the campaign messages…Digital media were absolutely central to his much-praised “get out the vote” efforts and critical to his ability to court younger voters.
One of the main criteria for a workable new media is immediacy. The printing press is not as immediate as our ‘convergence culture’ demands. While many publications work to a weekly or monthly publishing schedule, their readers want updates immediately. New media journalists and bloggers have come to the forefront of journalism during the current Israeli/Gaza conflict. As Israel blocked all journalists from entering Gaza and are controlling and censoring filming in the area, it is up to the Gazian people themselves to give their first hand view of the conflict through blogging. (News story on France 24 Saturday Jan 10 2009 6.40 GMT http://www.france24.com/en/20090109-webnews-gaza-bloggers-israeli-assault-palestinian-blogs-video) In Broadcast Journalism, Andrew Boyd writes ‘Come the revolution, every radio and TV station becomes a strategic target…even in peacetime, whoever controls the media has the whip hand in the war for people’s hearts and minds’ (Page 157)
In our Convergence Culture, we get our information and news from a number of different sources, crossing the old/new media line, Radio, TV, Newspapers, online TV channels and websites as well as blogs and social networking sites. What separates these blogs into professional and hobby standards? In a professional publication, readers have come to expect a professional standard of writing without any ‘txt tlk’ or netspeak, leading to many questions wondering whether blogging and self publishing deserve the same respect as print journalism.
When reporting news most journalists strive for an unbiased viewpoint. Boyd points out ‘Even the most respected journalist can only be the sum of his/her own beliefs, experience and attitudes, the product of his/her society, culture and upbringing. No one can be free from bias…'(p160)When a blogger is publishing his/her work, they themselves are the editor and can express their bias unashamedly.
‘New digital media are not external agents that come to disrupt an unsuspecting culture. They emerge from within cultural contexts, and they refashion other media, which are embedded in the same or similar contexts (Bolter & Remediation – Theory Introduction) An example of this is Irish Music magazine Hot Press. With a circulation circa 20000, (www.hotpress.com) is Ireland’s only true commercial rock music Magazine (no other commercial national rock music magazine exists). It is published on a fortnightly basis but to overcome the need its readers have for immediate answers and stories, the magazine now has a website with both free and subscription access. It is important that while Hot Press’s competitors are mostly website based music information sites, (www.dropd.ie, www.state.ie, www.connected.ie) it has overcome this problem by updating its website instantly when news stories break and introducing blogging journalists to the site.
Michel Foucoult wrote about the ‘technologies of self’ as the means by which individuals represent themselves – ‘the ways they talk themselves into existence through letter writing and diary keeping’ (Page 98)Many saw Computer Mediated Communication (CMC) as a liberation, in interactive systems like chat rooms and online communities, anonymity ‘paved the way for disembodiment an identity which was no longer dependent on or constrained by, your physical appearance’ This leads to say that blogging is not a brand new media but has evolved from diary keeping and letter writing. Forms of self-publishing are an important tool for new artists and musicians and if networking in a diligent manner can get their art to a wider audience than if they waited for a conventional route. For example, Banksy, through Youtube and www.banksy.co.uk and US rock group Bayside, who used Myspace.com
Our behaviour away from our tools will probably be influenced by the tools that we use… [and] will probably show some of the learned characteristics we have acquired from the time spent with our tools. I still wonder what the long term effects of information technology can have on our character, psychological and physical, when the artifacts are in flux. Mahammad Betz (quoted in Henrickson 2000) cited in Computer Mediated Communication.p2 … it is human communication and what we do with our technology that counts.(Page 2 Thurlow C et al 2004)
While people have become busy with their daily lives, Social Networking sites like Facebook offers users the chance to catch up with friends through their instant messaging and one line ‘status updates’, a mini blog of sorts, Social interaction is changing, the distinctions between interpersonal and mass communication are converging and that boundaries have become blurred as a result of emerging forms of computer mediated communication. ( Ambivalence towards convergence. This is also true of the ‘Facebook Application’ available for iphone, where although not sitting at a computer, computer technology allows the user to communicate online, in a non verbal, non SMS way. Www.facebook.com www.apple.com
Computer Mediated Communication is a process of human communication via computers, involving people, situated in particular contexts, engaging in processes to shape media for a variety of purposes John December cited the CMC p15 this is true whether its CNN on network television or www.cnn.com as a mass communicator or a 15 year old uploading a video diary to YouTube. The Remediation of JK Rowling’s Harry Potter characters and stories from print to webblogs have led to a development of online communities. www.harrypotterfanfiction.com/ and www.fanfiction.net/book/Harry_Potter/ claim to have over 400,000 stories developed online.
Blogs and online communities give users the ability to create identities for themselves. The user can create an online profile or self-presentation, leading the world to see them as they would like to be seen, whether true or not.
What leads some people to blog rather than have a webpage? Blogging is free and easy, having a webpage demands having to chose and paying for a specific url and web hosting. While domain hosting sites now also offer a blog facilities, for example, www.doteasy.com many people are still using free blogging sites like WordPress.com For the technically challenged www.Wordpress.com and similar sites offer simple solutions for blogging. The user starts an account, give their blog a name and they can start blogging. (See Appendix 1)
Many businesses are now blogging in an attempt to attract new clients, putting pictures of their employees in company blogs, to get away from being a faceless corporation. In Naked Conversations, Bob Lutz was quoted as the only Fortune 10 boardroom executive who was a blogger. His goal was to ‘engage the public regarding our products and services. The blog has become an important, unfiltered…voice. Now we have a direct line of communication. [The blog] has become indispensable’ (Page 50)
In his 1995 book Being Digital, Nicholas Negroponte said ‘ Computing is no longer the exclusive realm of the military, government, and big business…. The means and messages of multimedia will become a blend of technical and artistic achievement.'(Page 82)
Social Networking sites and Blogging have evolved from diaries and print fanzines through the printing press. Human Communication has not changed, the new technologies we have make it easier for us to get our ideas to a mass audience. People have always used different media platforms to get their ideas across through radio television and print. Nothing has changed about how and why humans communicate, only the way we do it. Through Blogging we can see that various different media, both written and visual, have evolved and been remediated into what is now considered a new media platform, showing that multimedia is a combination and accumulation of traditional media.
During the course of researching the essay I started two blogs to see which was easier to use. http://nessymon.wordpress.com/ which a free service but offers upgrades of space for a fee. I also started one through my website domain hosting company http://apps.nessyproductions.eu/Blog/ You can then personalize the colour settings, backgrounds and formats, without having to know any HTML or CSS language. Through a control panel which is known as a Dashboard, a user can link to other pages on themselves, like a mini website, or have a Blogroll, linking to external blogs and websites. Entries are tagged under different headings for example, fishing, baseball, computers, weekend, depending on the subject of the related entry. Photographs can be uploaded, with varying difficulty depending on the blog hosting.
While uploading text and entries, WordPress seems to be the most user friendly, giving more options for customization. It looks sleeker. The Doteasy.com blog seems a bit more chunky and not as sleek. Also I don’t like that a Google search box is always on your blog page.
I think I will be linking the http://nessymon.wordpress.com/ to my website and using the external WordPress blog.
Once a user has a blog up and running they then must ensure an audience. More and more businesses are using blogs to attract customers or readers. While some bloggers have an online presence purely as a form of social networking amongst friends. These may be safe, dull and boring, while others are writing on particular issues or viewpoints, like Henry Jenkins, they write on issues that interest them. Through Google and other search engines the blogger can now also include ‘Adwords’ or advertising links to third parties. For every click the blogger will earn a few cent, therefore for a professional blogger a high volume of traffic is beneficial. Some are now incorporating subscription fee for RSS feeds. Others like http://www.nialler9.com/ have now been employed by other online communities (www.state.ie) to attract extra readers.