Cultural and Literary Issues Arising out of Networked Media

Following on from my previous post, during this weeks symposium the bulk of discussion was focused around the following two ideas; ‘can technology progress independently of art and culture?’ and ‘is the internet causing a permanent  change in our literary format ?’. Initially when the first question was raised I instinctively disagreed. How can you remove culture from technology when technology is now embedded within it? We use technology everyday, our entire existence now balances on our deep reliance on technology from medical tools and equipment to kitchen and cooking appliances. However, when Betty raised the issue of a ‘tool’ vs ‘technology I begin to wonder what defines each of these terms? What is art. What is technology? Is technology simply an object that is new? Perhaps it may be old to one culture but new in another? Technology isn’t simply an object with an electrical source. It can a pen, fire, the wheel etc. So then if technology is dependent on how and when it is introduced, does that make art a product of new thinking that enables the development of technology? If we were to follow on with that idea then really art and culture cannot develop independently of technology because we need the art to create the technology that becomes woven into the foundations of our culture.

Following on nicely from talk about movements into the future, we then began to discuss the non linear format of internet and how it has influenced literature of today. Within ‘traditional media’ i.e written books, there is a physical and real distance between sources that does not exist within ‘modern media’ i.e the internet. As per the example that was given by Adrian, if you were reading about nutrition and then wanted to go deeper into your reading and read up on the digestive system, the physical format of book require you to get up off your chair and walk up the stairs to the biology section on level two of the library yet with the internet, all the information is able to arrive at the same time, equally distant from one another. The structure of the internet is non-linear, it is literally a network of sites that that equally distant from each other, causing no distinctive shape, no edge, no ending or centre. When we read a book out of order, we know and accept just that, that it is ‘out of order’. Yet this does not occur in the format of the internet.

Will this forever change the way we write? Will there no longer be a need for words such as ‘therefor’. Writing for the web now forces us to write in a manner than enables viewing at any angle.

Writing and Reading with New Technology

Again following on with the concepts revolving around hypertext, this weeks reading focuses on possibilities available for narratives and the potential role of the reader.  Despite the length and breadth of the reading however, it was one of the opening quotes that sparked my interest the most.

What if you had a book that changed every time you read it? —Michael Joyce (1991)

Straight away this reigited my childhood memories of the classic novel series, ‘Give Yourself Goosebumps’ by R.L Stine that through a choice of options at the end of various chapters, enabled you to jump between pages and chose the narrative  outcome. As a child, I, as I’m sure many others, absolutely loved these books. This structuring of the text allowed the reader to feel as though they were becoming involved in the narrative and enabled the reader to read the book multiple times and through trial of each options, progress through a different story on each occasion. However in the format of a written book, bound by a front and back cover, there was a limit to these variations. Discussed and questioned throughout the reading is the potential of hypertext to produce novels that are continuously changing, that through visual interaction enable the reader to constantly produce different outcomes. Yet isn’t this simply the production of completely different narratives? How is this any different to picking up three different novels from a library about teenage love or zombies?

The reading then continues on to discuss the kaleidoscope book. A book that really could interact with your choices, moods and fantasies, that allowed you to decided when the book ended and how. Is this what hypertext could lead to? Do we want to control the narratives that we read for enjoyment and relaxation?

Technology has provided the human race with so many improvements and opportunities but how far do we take this technology in erasing all the history and fundamentals it has arisen out of?




Hyped on Hypermedia

A dove is a small bird.

It is a member of the Columbidae family of which includes approximately 310 species around the world.

However, when searching the word Dove on the internet you will find that the pages you come across are not simply restricted to its context as bird.

Dove is also the renowned name of a global personal care brand, chocolate manufacture and is the universally recognised symbol for peace, derived from the christian religion.

As a result of this symbolism, the dove has also become a popular design for body tattoos.

The above is an example of hypermedia, a piece of writing that comprised of many chunks of interlinked texts consisting of both text and imagery. As you can see the text may have one common denominator, such as the dove, which relates the various links. However, readers are not bound to a particular sequence and may browse through information by association, following their interests by clicking on a highlighted keyword or phrase in one piece of text to bring up another, associated piece of text.

As we can see here, although the above passage is about the word ‘dove’, through each of the links, and the different content found through each link, we realise that the passage holds a a very diverse range of information and is fact perhaps more unrelated than related.

Irrespective of what you wish to search online, hypermedia is inescapable. The way we communicate online is now through the use of hyperlinks. Hyperlinks allow us to connect with each other on a global scale and allow content to be extend on in new and unique ways by enabling a connection between multiple separate ideas, concepts or information that   may then create a new perspective or approach.

Additionally, as a result of the network like configuration of hypermedia, the environment it creates is inherently non linear. As expressed in this week’s reading, the development of hypertext has displaced the literary problems created by the axial structure of linear text. As online readers, we now have no beginning or end to a text, and better yet, we are able to interact with media that holds no barriers.

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