Merrin (vs.?) Mason

12 March


William Merrin – ‘Studying Me-dia: the Problem of Method in a Post-Broadcast Age’

In this modern digitised era we live in, many elucidate that the term ‘Media’ recedes more in present day to its successor ‘Me-dia’. Personal ideologies are forefronted through self-made me-dia as society’s grandest medias are, whilst highly regarded, often seconded. Merrin’s blog Media Studies 2.0 ironically presents his post on the issues formalised by modern digital me-dia in contrast to broadcast era media. Volume, Dispersal, Ephemerality, Access, Discovery, Content, Ethics, Production, Audience, Generalisation and Accumulation form Merrin’s package of ‘problems’ with today’s digital age. He commends the volume of post-broadcast era me-dia, however, whilst acknowledging the multitude of documentation devices, records his pessimisms on ephemerality and the inevitable digital lost of instant/ present-focused me-dia. Whilst he details the differences and similarities between media and me-dia, his point – at times – is shrouded by the irony that his post on problems with post-broadcasting is distributed through his me-dia blog.

John Mason – ‘Researching your own practice: the discipline of noticing’

Mason’s chapter on ‘noticing’ is a pedagogical stance on noticing media, forming an acute exposé on intentional noticing, marking and recording.

Intentional noticing: This is pretty much self-explanatory. For aesthetic purposes, I will still define it. Intentional noticing’s primary focus revolves around “living-in” and “learning from” media (likewise me-dia). Mason states that we are “multi-sensate beings” where intentional noticing occurs every day – whether consciously or unconsciously – and is easily aligned with ordinary noticing and perception. Intentional noticing can be only recalled through being “re-minded (literally)”.

Marking: This one is a bit more difficult. Marking, as Mason defines, is a “heightened form of noticing”; therefore I understand it as the ‘second step’ after intentional noticing. Whilst one could presume that marking is a solely conscious effort, it can be internalised by the sub-conscious. I am more inclined to take the stance that marking is – opposed to more conscious – more deliberate than intentional noticing. Whereas intentional noticing relies on being “re-minded”, marking draws focus on “more than casual attention” as recollection of events and remarking to others and yourself allows easier accessibility of the incident at a later point in time.

Recording: Whether brief or in depth, recording as the third form of noticing involves noting the noticed – externalising the event/ incident from internal thoughts. It is important to understand, however, that internal note-taking is also considered a form of recording as this is arguably still an aspect of conscious recording. This form of noticing requires the most motivation and attention, two imperative attributes that we disregard and detest.

Application of Mason to Merrin

When considering Mason’s status on noticing media, parallels can be drawn between this and Merrin’s methodical ‘problems’ of media in our current post-broadcast age. Merrin’s viewpoints on ephemerality and discovery, in particular, collaborate with the idea of intentional noticing specified by Mason. If intentional noticing is the act of taking attention but no attachment to, it augments the notion that ephemerality is an issue with me-dia in a post-broadcast era. Do we as media practitioners need to consciously move to marking and recording in our digital me-dia age in order to deter this ephemerality? I suppose the idea of intentional marking and intentional recording rely on motivation and attention. Is it really the post-broadcast era that has caused ‘media’ to wane?

I agree with Merrin; I disagree with Merrin. These are two conflicting statements that both correlate with me. I am not torn between the two; I can confidently accept that I can associate with both. Yes there is a larger volume of today’s media and me-dia that contribute to an inevitable result of forgotten digital artefacts however Merrin’s note on access is imperative in order to contradict this. Today’s access of media – whether minute or gargantuan, fan-made or industry made – eclipses the broadcast era’s primitive methods (by comparison) of access, distribution and accumulation. I feel that my agreements with Merrin can mostly be subverted through a conscious application of Mason’s intentional marking and recording.

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