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.1

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. 2

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 I felt the notion of the screen not replicating the printed page in terms of precision was outdated and showed the age of the text.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.

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