Remediation: Understanding New Media

Bolter, Jay David and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2000. Print.

If the ultimate purpose of media is indeed to transfer sense experiences from one person to another, the wire [a device that can directly transmit information to one’s brain, from the film Strange Days] threatens to make all media obsolete. . . . The wire bypasses all forms of mediation and transmits directly from one consciousness to another.

The “fantasy” described here indicates a form of communication beyond mediation. There is no interpretation, only reception. How much of what we learn or experience is shaped by method of communication?

While it was clear that the computer screen could not compete with the printed page in precision, the Web did have in its favor speed of delivery and point-and-click interactivity. 

I must admit I scoffed when I first read this. I felt the notion of the screen not replicating the printed page in terms of precision was outdated and showed the age of the text. However, when I thought about it, I realized that differing standards in our browsers does indeed mean that two users might have two entirely different visual experiences when looking at web content. The good developers and designers out there will do their best to ensure a common experience across all browsers and platforms, but I know from personal experience there’s always a situation where interpretors will display content differently. What does this mean for shared experiences? Do we need to qualify everything we see on the web? Versioning also seems to be a sticking point. . . though that might be similar to the various editions we get in printed text. Certainly versioning and multiple editions is more prevalent in the digital realm.

Writing Environments

I am curious about writing environments. How does having access to multimedia on our computers influence our writing method? Do you play music in iTunes? Do you feel compelled to shut off wifi so you’re not easily distracted while writing? I’ll need to find more on this. There must be studies out there.

Multimedia and Multmodal

As you already know, I’m a advocate for multimodal learning. The wonderful thing about computers is that they are not tied to any specific medium. They are spaces for us to read and write, as well as consumer audio/visual content. The versatility of these machines enables us to implement them in the classroom in any number of ways. I am particularly fascinated with how computers have changed the meaning of “writing.” There is the traditional composition, of course. But what does writing mean today? All of our gadgets allow us to write. We can text message and post to Twitter on our phones. We can embed images and videos in our blogs (and even in Word). We can hyperlink to tangential resources and material, something that used to be the job of footnotes and works cited pages. We can even interact with one another while we write. One of the most revelatory moments in my classes was the first time students reacted to seeing edits made in real time on a Google Doc. This is probably the most open-ended question I’ve posed, but I am curious to flesh out what writing means today.

Gaming the Classroom

This is something that I did not really consider when constructing my list, but will certainly show up in my dissertation: I would like to explore how games and game theory could influence course design. I’m playing around with some ideas about assignments and assessment that I think would give students more agency over their education. I don’t think this is a particularly new idea, but I’m interested in student-crafted assignments and a scoring systems that, much like in a game, would reward students for accomplishing certain tasks. For example, if I’m teaching a composition course and one of the outcomes is to have students write a personal narrative, students may accomplish this goal either by choosing from a list of genre-related assignments or by making up their own assignment guidelines that must be approved by the instructor. I have also considered having more assignments in a semester and allowing students to pick and choose the ones that appeal to them. These are ideas in their infancy. I would need to do a little more research to flesh them out. I’m sure that are some books and articles out there that would fit nicely with these theories. There’s probably a question in here someplace. I’m not sure if I arrived at one or not.

Digital Literacy: Educators as Engineers?

I’m interested in the idea of “digital literacy,” but from the standpoint of educators. I’d like to extend “literacy” from a general understanding of technology and software (use cases/knowing when to implement wikis, podcasts, digital texts, etc. in the classroom) to a basic competency in designing websites and even engineering rudimentary software. (This is a little extreme, I know.) I think it’s extraordinarily empowering as an instructor to craft your courses’ tools to best fit your goals and outcomes. With more and more pressure from administrations to use subscription-based learning software, it behooves us to be more acquainted with how learning software is constructed and to even be able to either use open-source tools (Moodle, WordPress, MediaWiki, and other open and well-documented software), as well as being able to construct our own, which can be achieved simply by understanding basic HTML and maybe even a little JavaScript and/or PHP.


I will post more about Remediation: Understanding New Media once I upload all of my reading notes, but I wanted to get one idea out there for others to consider. In the introduction, Jay Bolter and Richard Grusin point out that how we consume media dictates our interpretation. I have long wondered if my understanding of some literature and critical work has been “guided” by the medium I used to read. I tend to read a lot on my computer, but how might my interpretation be influenced by being able to click links or search for keywords? I suppose it has made my reading focused to a certain extent. If I come to a text looking for specific information, and that text happens to be digital, I may streamline the process by hitting Command + F to type in exactly what I’m looking for. Bolter and Grusin go into a great deal more in their book, but I thought I would start by asking the most basic of questions: how do you read? Is it situational? Do you approach digital texts differently when it’s for pleasure as opposed to research?

Writing Machines

Clearly, the title of this post is borrowed from Katherine Hayles, but I really wanted to comment on the outdated notion of writing-dedicated devices.

I would actually like to find a study that breaks down usage on modern gadgets. Between text messaging, posting to Twitter & Facebook, blogging, etc., I’m willing to bet a great deal of our time spent on these devices is still eaten up by writing. Typewriters and word processors may be defunct, and writing duties have been enveloped by computers and mobile devices, but I wonder how these multi-task, multi-use machines have changed the way we approach writing.

I’ll return to this idea shortly. I’m going to pull on some strings to see where they lead.

Footnote Test Post

This is just a test post. I wanted to try out the “commenting” tool. It’s really just an inline footnote plugin, but I think it will serve our purposes nicely. I am going to install an inline editing tool which, if you have editing privileges will let you add your own footnotes so that you can comment on specific sentences or referenced material.

This is some more random text. I’m going to keep rambling on and on until the post gets a little longer. I want to see how the Side Matter plugin pushes other sidebar widgets. I may need to empty the widgets so there are minimal conflicts. Perhaps I’ll add a widget area in the top margin.

Why did the screen go all grey when I switched to Inline Edit mode? I don’t think I like this. I’ll have to edit the css.

This is just another test.

Again, this is just some more text. Please don’t take anything I write here to heart. It is merely the ramblings of a tired person.

research, writing, and pixels…lots of them