History and Theory of New Media

CNM 200 (Section 1, 4 units) | Tuesday / Thursday 3:30-5:00PM (238 Kroeber)

Instructor: Christiane Paul
E-mail: Christiane_Paul@WHITNEY.ORG
Office hours: Tues / Thurs, 1:30 - 3PM by appointment.

Course Description: This class will outline the history and theory of new media from aesthetic, cultural, and political perspectives. The course will explore notions of medium and use prominent theories of media archeology to illustrate how mediation in various forms has impacted perception and communication over time. Other topics to be discussed will include the logic of the database as a new cultural form and way of revealing patterns of knowledge, beliefs, and social behavior; as well as notions of software as a logical and inevitable consequence of the nature of the digital medium and the power of its structures and rules. Today's culture is to a large extent revolving around data flows that are an expression of processes that profoundly affect our economic, political, and social life. Data flows support the concept of a networked commons, which raises questions about agency, control, and governance. These political issues will be addressed within the framework of recent theories surrounding immaterial production. Through a series of lectures, reading assignments, and discussions, class members will position new media in this larger cultural context.

Course Objectives: The lecture seminar's goal is to provide a broader historical and theoretical background for new media production and practice. The class will map out cross-disciplinary theoretical approaches and allow students to discuss and apply them to new media and their impact on cultural production.

Attendance Policy: It is the policy of this department that students are expected to attend all classes regularly and punctually. Absences will be excused only by death in the immediate family or an illness verified by a written doctor's excuse.
Three absences will automatically result in lowering the final grade one full grade (e.g., from A to B, or B- to C-) and five absences in a grade of F, even if the work is otherwise satisfactory. Coming to class late three times will be considered equivalent to one absence.

Final Grades: Grades will be based on attendance and participation in class discussion; as well as the completed assignment.

Required Course Work:
  • Write a paper on a topic related to one of the lectures. Length of the paper is to be 2400 words + references. Your essay should articulate the issues discussed in one of the lectures and / or articulate some important aspect of the topic.

    Required Text:
    Noah Wardrip-Fruin and Nick Montfort (Eds.), The New Media Reader, MIT Press, 2003

    The following syllabus is subject to change.

    Week 1 | What is New Media?

    Tues 1/22

    Introduction to course: topics and course work.

    Thurs 1/24

  • Lev Manovich, New Media from Borges to HTML / What is New Media: 8 Propositions from New Media from Borges to HTML

  • Henry Jenkins, Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape

  • Resources:
    Wikipedia, Mass Media

    Week 2 | What is New Media?

    Tues 1/29

  • New Media Reader: 18|259 Hans Magnus Enzensberger, "Constituents of a Theory of New Media" (1970)


    Thurs 1/31

  • New Media Reader: 19|277 Jean Baudrillard, "Requiem for the Media" (1972)


    Week 3 | Media History / Media Archeology

    Tues 2/5

  • New Media Reader: 03|49 Alan Turing, "Computing Machinery and Intelligence"

  • Turing's Enigma cryptanalytic machine
  • Britain's Pilot ACE at the National Physical Laboratory.

    Lecture | Wed 2/6

    Henry Jenkins, Combating the Participation Gap: Why New Media Literacy Matters
    4:00pm-5:30pm, South Hall

    Thurs 2/7

  • Friedrich A. Kittler, Gramophone, Film, Typewriter in: Friedrich A. Kittler, literature media information systems (OPA: Amsterdam, 1997)

    Friedrich Kittler, European Graduate School EGS 2005
    John Armitage, From Discourse Networks to Cultural Mathematics - An Interview with Friedrich A. Kittler

    Week 4 | Media History / Media Archeology

    Tues 2/12

  • New Media Reader: 02|35 Vannevar Bush, As We May Think

  • Timeline of Computer History
  • From Babbage's Analytical Engine to Aitken's Difference Engine
  • Voder / Vocoder
  • Memex Images: Future of the Book / Bermier, Adventures in Cybersound / animated sketch

    Thurs 2/14

  • Theodor Nelson, Xanalogical Structure

    New Media Reader: 16 | 231: Douglas Engelbart, William English "A Research Center for Augmenting Human Intellect / online information about the presentation

    Week 5 | Media History / Media Archeology

    Tues 2/19

  • New Media Reader: 04|65 Norbert Wiener, "Men, Machines, and the World About"


    Thurs 2/21

  • New Media Reader:Bill Nichols, "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems"

    History of Cybernetics
    Kuma War
    PacMan vs. K. C. Munchkin

    Week 6 | Media History / Media Archeology

    Tues 2/26

  • "The Work of Culture in the Age of Cybernetic Systems" cont.
  • Claus Pias, Analog, Digital, and the Cybernetic Illusion
    Claus Pias is Professor of Cognitive Theory and Philosophy of Digital Media in the Philosophy Department of the University of Vienna. He studied art history, German literature, and philosophy at the University of Bonn. From 1993-2000, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Weimar, where he also received his Ph.D. He worked as an associate professor at the University of Bochum from 2001-2003, and has held positions at the University of Essen and Karlsruhe's Institute of Design. His research areas include the history and theory of digital media, philosophy and the history of technology, and modern-day art.


    Thurs 2/28

  • "Analog, Digital, and the Cybernetic Illusion" cont.


    Week 7 | Archive / Database / Code

    Tues 3/4

    Archive | Database:
  • Michel Foucault, Preface, The Order of Things, An Archeology of the Human Sciences


    Thurs 3/6

    Archive | Database:
  • Lev Manovich, Database as a Symbolic Form
  • Lev Manovich, Database as a Genre of New Media

  • Information Architecture:
    Larry Wendt, "Narrative as Genealogy: Sound Sense in an Era of Hypertext": The Art of Memory / Giulio Camillo, Memory Theater

    Week 8 | Archive / Database / Code

    Tues 3/11

  • Howard Rheingold, The Battle over Control of Code is a Battle over Freedom

    Howard Rheingold
    Digital Millennium Copyright Act: Summary / Wikipedia
    Broadcast Flag (Wikipedia)
    Digital Rights Management: Wikipedia entry / Berkeley conference / How Stuff Works
    Net Neutrality: Save the Internet FAQ / Google / Business Week on Net Neutrality

    Thurs 3/13

  • Pierre Levy, Towards a Language of Collective Intelligence

    Pierre Levy, The Collective Intelligence Game - A Project about Collective Learning and Understanding
    Research Statement -Description of Levy's research project at the University of Ottawa

    Week 9 | Archive / Database / Code

    Tues 3/18 - cxld

    Thurs 3/20

    Bodies and Code:
  • N. Katherine Hayles, Prologue, How We Became Posthuman Virtual Bodies in Cybernetics, Literature, and Informatics

  • Mark B.N. Hansen, bodies in code or how primordial tactility introjects technics into human life [choose "Excerpt" from the menu on the left] in bodies in code - interfaces with digital media

    An interview/dialogue with Albert Borgmann and N. Katherine Hayles on humans and machines

    SPRING BREAK | 3/24 - 29

    Week 10 | Networks

    Tues 4/1

    Networks | Code:
  • Alexander R. Galloway / Eugene Thacker, Protocol and Counter-Protocol

    Resources / Further Readings:
    Alexander R. Galloway, Protocol - How Control Exists after Decentralization:
    Eugene Thacker, Foreword - Protocol Is as Protocol Does
    Sample Chapter: Physical Media
    Alexander R. Galloway and Eugene Thacker, The Exploit - A Theory of Networks

    Thurs 4/3

    Networks | Social:
  • Geert Lovink, Introduction - The Pride and Glory of Web 2.0 in Zero Comments - Kernels of Critical Internet Culture (New York: Routledge, 2007)


    Week 11 | Networks

    Tues 4/8

    Networks | (Semantic) Filtering:
  • Florian Cramer, Animals that Belong to the Emperor


    Thurs 4/10

    Networks | (Semantic) Filtering:
  • Clay Shirky, Ontology is Overrated

    The Semantic Web: An Introduction
    The semantic web - Start making sense (Economist.com, April 9, 2008)

    Week 12 | Networks

    Tues 4/15

    Networks | Cultural Production:
  • Tiziana Terranova, Free labor: producing culture for the digital economy


    Thurs 4/17

    Networks | Cultural Production:
  • Maurizio Lazzarato, Immaterial Labour

    Burak Arikan and Engin Erdogan, User Labor

    Week 13 | Networks

    Tues 4/22

    Networks | Code:
  • Lawrence Lessig, "code is law" in: Code version 2.0, p. 1


    Thurs 4/24

    Networks | Intellectual Property:
  • Lawrence Lessig, "Intellectual Property" in: Code version 2.0, p. 169

    Creative Commons
    Berkman Center for Internet & Society

    Week 14 | Networks

    Tues 4/29

    Networks | Urbanity:
  • Guy Debord, Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography(1955)
  • Stephen D.N. Graham, Software-Sorted Geographies

    Alison Sant, Redefining the Basemap
    Arch-OS - Software for Buildings

    Thurs 5/1

    Networks | Art+Culture:
    Daniel Coffeen


    Week 15 | Networks / Conclusion

    Tues 5/6

    Networks | Urbanity:
  • Stephen D.N. Graham cont.


    Thurs 5/8