Why did computers appear?
Computers appeared in the 19th century because humans have always needed to make fast calculations and new understanding of technology allowed people to do computation more quickly.
The first mechanical computer was a machine with buttons, levers and gears which could supply the user with the result of addition, subtraction and sophisticated models were capable of division and multiplication as well.
The Babbage Analytical Machine was an automatic machine which could print results like a typewriter after completing the equation.
What is Hard About Communication?
Although Humans all over the world have successfully created languages that capture thoughts, emotions, and describe our world, good communication is a difficult skill to master and no one has perfected.
Oftentimes ideas get lost in translation, either because it is assumed that the meaning is understood, or because of lack of social finesse or language barrier. For instance, two people may say they love each other and mean totally different things. This comes down to a fundamental discrepancy in the understanding of ideas and intangible things. This can also come from the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis that language you speak is like colored glasses through which you see the world. If your language has assumptions in it’s basic grammar and structure, you will see the world differently from someone who speaks a different language with different assumptions. Ideas can be conveyed through actions and time, but for the most part it is difficult to find a good base for inter cultural and interpersonal understanding of all ideas.
What do computers add?
Language cannot express everything. For this reason, computers aid communication through computational media. They allow us to use language, images, gifs, videos in conjunction to better convey messages to one another.
Is Computational Media Better at Expressing Your Internal Life?
I didn’t agree with the passage in The Language of New Media when Mannovich quoted Jaron Lanier’s theory of “post-symbolic communication” and the possibility of a future time where instead of telling someone about a cat, the cat will appear in an artificial brain controlled reality. I think it’s a rather silly notion that we won’t want to use language any more and would prefer to express our internal lives through neural transmissions.
I do however agree with that the internet has become a well oiled “interpellation” machine. Louis Althusser’s concept of designing something which the user believes they themselves have designed. There is a modern sense of self importance which is highly linked to design in technology and the narratives it tells its consumers.
Does narrative and interactivity go together?
Definitely, we see this being done by large corporations like Apple, Google, IBM etc. who have all had their design teams think through the message of their design. Lev Mannovich touches on the fun, colorful GUI of the Apple Macintosh welcoming users into the 2000s. Consumers were able to buy their hulking personal computers in cool colors to match their unique preferences. Apple continued to lead this trend with the super sleek and minimalistic iPod/iPhone. Their design is supposed to assure the consumer through straightforward and easy to use design as well as assuage any fear of loss of individuality through various colors, cases, and customizations. Of course, all of these individualized features have been preplanned by a team of sixteen in Cupertino.
Is this Good?
I think it simply is a fact of our perception that interaction will be bound with narratives. We imagine the reason why someone yelled at us on the street for no reason and why so many umbrellas have been forsaken on the street after a storm. It seems like a natural and necessary human trait to associate meaning to everything. I don’t think it’s possible for humans to interpret images, videos, media, and other interactive media without associating meaning and trying to make sense of or piece together a narrative.
What is so important about Computational Media?
Computational media is important because it is the most interactive media so far to be used. First we had the spoken word, storytellers and troubadours would travel from city to city telling stories, playing music, and acting out folklore. Between the Gutenberg Bible (the advent of the printing press) and the Lutheran and Calvinist translations of the bible into German, European laypeople were instructed about the Roman Catholic God through the use of imagery in the form of stained glass windows. Once written language because more accessible in the Enlightenment period, academic research in the sciences and humanities were finally published in other languages than Latin in Europe and the written word became the main interactive media source. In the beginning of the 20th century, the cinema took over as the most interactive media. Audiences became addicted to the all encompassing atmosphere of the movies. Finally now we are able to program films, games, virtual reality, and artificial intelligence systems to react to our input, movements, or voice commands. We can not only interpret remade output from this new medium but also input our reactions and instantaneously see a response.
Discuss how computational media makes us more or less understanding of people unlike ourselves.
Computational media has led to increased accessibility. People with disabilities don’t need command of all five senses in order to benefit from computational media. Low income groups in developing countries as well as third world countries can afford smartphones. Now virtually everyone can access new media, which offers new ways of accessing various digital media. However, because the media is increasingly individualized by data users only see media that already appeals to them or resembles other things they have consumed. The more they use computational media, the more refined the media they find is to their tastes. Users end up in a bubble of media curated for them by databases, programs, and big business. For this reason computational media makes it harder to understand others because it excludes media sources that will probabilistically not become clickbait based on all of the users previous actions and choices.