For Good Measure: Shaking our fists at the Internet on our gol-derndet lawn!

Note to 513 readers: In an attempt to delineate between what is class-assigned and what I stumble upon and find of interest, I’m going to try and preface blog posts and tweets like this with “For Good Measure.”
As I tweeted today, I found a Telegraph (the UK paper) article about 50 things that are being killed by the internet. The article might be better described as “50 things that are being (sometimes mercifully) killed by the digital revolution.” A few things stick out as fluff they were scraping the bottom of the idea well for a round 50, but it’s a solid list. Some are tongue-in-cheek, some are irrelevant, and some are a shame.
I really have to single out Telegraph’s list topper as the most influential – “Polite disagreement.” With politics being the topic de force in this regard, the Internet’s double-edged sword has been the promise of diversity of viewpoints to challenge us to see past preconceptions and to humanize those we disagree with, but with a reality that we’ve only radicalized more. Because the politphile can easily find a niche blog/community that reflects back at them exactly the same point of view they themselves hold, there is no rationale to seek common ground. With the Internet, we can cast our own dramas with loyally supportive cast and fantastically one-dimensional Others. One would hope that this would be constrained to the digital facet of the world, but that is sadly not so. We know that we can always escape from those pesky, foolish ultra-_____wingers/_____ists we work with or otherwise have to interact with by returning to our digital compound and circling the wagons with the ones like us, the ones who get it. It’s a cheapening of the discourse, a polarizer.
Honorable mentions:
13. Memory – I don’t know. I think that it’s actually probable I’m a little better rounded for having surfed the internet/wikipedia for as long as I have. I can’t count the number of times I got lost in the wikipedia click-spiral.
14. Dead time – As I mentioned in class, I really think I need go Walden and just disappear into the woods for a few weeks.
16. Hoax debunking – The single greatest triumph over the emails that one crazy, gullible distant family member sends.

What really ISN’T new media?

(CRAP! I had this sitting as a draft since Tuesday.)

My response to Zappen’s “Digital Rhetoric: Toward an Integrated Theory” was lukewarm. Maybe I’ve completely missed the point – and perhaps, I can be forgiven this because the point seems so buried – but it seems to me the take-away is that new digital forms of expression and rhetoric are only superficially different from the traditional notions. Assuming I’m on target, I’ll proceed.

Well, duh. I don’t really see how this manner of communication could be any different based on the medium. The point, the essence, is the exchange. Be it 140 characters at a time and tapped out on the subway or at length in peer-reviewed journals, discourse is discourse is discourse. Legitimacy bestowed may make it more professional or suitable for specific application, but it is still discourse and it is still valuable.

It seems a point being made is that one of the aspects of so-called “New Media” is a scientific reproduction or affectation of traditional media – a mathematical breakdown of something like a video or image. That strikes me as odd. In reality, EVERYTHING we’ve ever done could potentially fall under this definition if the parameters remain this loose and computing power continues its unabated expansion. Just like a mathematical equation can reproduce the display of an image by orienting millions of small bits and dots of color, so too could the more physical characteristics be included. A painting is not just the colors used and their relative orientation – it’s the way light plays off the inconsistencies in the pigment, or how different canvases interact with different paints. There are mathematical ways to describe all of this. So, given the time, wouldn’t a)processing power needed to three-dimensionally render a digital expression for how all of this data is presented and constructed, and b)continuing advances in physical reproductions (such as 3-D printers) eventually produce something that is a 100% flawless reproduction of an analog original? No doubt reaching this level of sophistication would take time, but since it couldn’t be achieved by a human hand, wouldn’t this also be New Media?

Furthermore, there is reference to Alan Turing, but nothing to say of the infamous Turing test. For those who may not know, the Turing test asserts that a sufficiently complex and well programmed computer could carry on a conversation with a human as another human could. No one can claim that honor yet, but this, too, must be only a matter of time. Then media will be capable of expanding into yet another realm it has been shut out of thus far: human-like/human-to-human communication.

Instructor at University of Northern Colorado. Compositionist, rhetorician, husband, gamer, cat guy.