Category Archives: Characteristics

Characteristics — the underlying human principle

There is always an underlying human aspect behind everything we create. We can name any technological advancement, and there will always be a corresponding element from human nature. These tools are often better at these things that humans by nature. Behind the wheel is movement. Behind the hammer is strength. Behind the gun is the ability to kill or hunt.

Computers first appeared when humans realized that a machine can do complicated calculations for them effortlessly and easily. It did not meant that the machine would think instead of them — it followed the instructions of a human to solve a problem that humans were facing. But as Lev Manovich mentioned in his book, even the first of these computers were able to process images (Jacquard’s loom using punch cards to weave). This ability to process images was the key for communications between humans through the computer.

Human tools are usually better at what humans do without them, that is why they are made in the first place. Are computers better at communication then us?

In some aspects, they are not. Text messages cannot carry more emotions than the sender has put into them. Emails are only letters displayed on a computer screen. It seems like that without images, computers are simply converting the written form of language. Indeed, they are more comprehensible than many people’s handwritings, but wouldn’t that personal touch a takeaway from communication?

But using only text can cause some confusion (I feel like this illustrates my point the best).

However, if we add images, everything changes. Even in journalism, it is well known that adding pictures to articles clears up their meanings. Computers are able to do much more than just displaying images. With their use, we can create, edit, publish and replicate these images. Using the internet, we are able to access online repositories and even search by only using the pictures.

A pioneer:


The first appearance of images were the smileys, which were proposed as early as 1982.

The era of social media made way to this type of communication. Not only are we using the smiley in its written format, we are using the picture form with many permutations.

We use them everyday in our internet conversations — and they make the way we express ourselves clearer and more comprehensive.

If we are going to use internet text as a mean of communication on a daily basis, we need images to make our messages easier to understand. To sustain that bridge and computational media provide us with these tools. Snapchat, Facebook messenger and Skype are all devices that help us connect to people in a great distance or cultural boundaries. And we are still at the beginning.

Characteristics of Computational Media

Since humanity began using numbers to catalog data, we’ve sought to find ways to improve efficiency. As far back as 4000 B.C.E. civilizations have been building computational devices to assist in accounting, trade, and even navigation. From the earliest abacus to the newest smartphone, these tools have been used as a means to improve human lives and economic efficiency.

While computers in some form have existed for thousands of years, commmunication via computers was impossible until relatively recently. Communication in general has always been difficult, both because of distance but also because of cultural differences. Two people who haven’t shared life experience may have no common points of reference on which to base their conversation. That lack of cultural understanding leads to a communication barrier even greater than distance. One that in the past would have required incredible amounts of research and time to overcome. With the advent of computers however, both of these issues with communication are easier to overcome. Distance is a barrier that has long-since been broken. But cultural differences are still tough. Access to information about other cultures, however, has lowered barriers to cross-cultural understanding. Today it is relatively easy to learn about a culture’s history, customs, and even language, making cross-cultural communication accessible to anyone with an internet connection.

Communication isn’t always a two-way street, people have shared information about themselves as well as stories and ideas through various media forever. Modern social-media though allows those stories to be shared with a broader audience, faster than ever before. This accessibility often inspires people to share more about their lives. Whether that is better or not is a matter of subjectivity, but it certainly is easier. The ability to share this sort of information has made many people more open to expressing their spur-of-the-moment opinions and feelings on subjects, where previously those thoughts would be filtered by the very nature of the time it took to put the thoughts down, edit them, and publish them.

A side effect of the onset of computational media has been its contribution to the entertainment industry. Both in the assistance of pre-existing mediums such as film, music, and publishing, and in the creation of new forms of entertainment. The video game industry has quickly become one of the largest industries in the world, taking in tens of billions in yearly revenue. A key draw of video games is the fact that they bring a sense of control and interactivity to narrative content. Players feel rewarded when their accomplishments in the game progress the story. Some games take things even further, allowing the player to make choices, directly impacting the narrative. This level of interactivity creates immersive experiences, connecting the player to the story and characters in ways other media simply can’t do.

Computational media has unparalleled power to increase efficiency, and power, build industries, even teach. It also allows for anyone to connect to limitless information, to learn anything about anything and anyone. To share opinions and ideas beyond the scope of our own lives.

This capability has both great benefits, and great downfalls. On one hand it allows anyone to be exposed to limitless opposing viewpoints, allowing for the potential of a more well-rounded person with well-informed viewpoints. However it also exposes people to a lot of the same opinions they already had. reinforcement of pre-conceived notions can be dangerous, it makes people feel self-righteous and if those viewpoints are reinforced too often, can make people more close-minded than they would be without. Essentially, access to limitless information allows for the capacity to be more understanding of those with opposing viewpoints, but only if that power is understood and respecting, and if people remain curious and open to listening to things they don’t agree with. That’s something that hasn’t changed, but with access to more information the effect has compounded.


Computers were first created as a tool of order.  They were designed to streamline complicated processes by putting the the responsibility of keeping track of many things in the computer itself. It was all centered mainly around calculations.

Charles Babbage, a 19th century mathematics professor created the first computer to solve mathematical formulas and print the result. It wasn’t so much capable of solving an equation independently, but offered the used with various functions to facilitate the process. Since solving a math problem required many different steps, this allowed the user to streamline the various sub-calculations.

The hard thing about communication, I think, is the need for instinctive responsiveness and emotional nuance. When you have a conversation with someone there isn’t time to plan every single aspect. You have mere seconds to formulate a verbal response so the whole experience is sort of like a giant improvisation. Beyond that though, a huge part of communication (still in context of a conversation) is inflection, tone of voice, facial expressions, body language, and so much more. There is an entire language beyond just words that we are incapable of planning. For the most part we can utilize these other channels of communication by learned instinct but it still provides difficulties.

It can be hard even to just congratulate your friend on an award they just received. It should be just a simple word in theory, but maybe you’re a little jealous of their success, and something in your one doesn’t come across as genuine. Suddenly there’s tension between the two of you. Even if you mean only to communicate your joy for them, it is so hard to control every aspect of how you’re saying things. Uniting your entire being to communicate a message with barely an preparation, though we’ve been practicing all our lives, is hard.

Computers here, are capable of adding a sense of organization to this disorder. They can give us the time to plan, and to control every variable. You can proofread, make corrections, add, delete and tinker with your message until you are satisfied.  This process is important beyond its technical function, it’s important as way of thinking. Tackling a problem with the computer angle means you break it down into pieces, see what can be done to address each moving part, and how all the pieces can function together to create a larger solution. Anil Dash addresses this, saying “aside from simply teaching how programming works, we need to ensure that young people can understand the way that human concerns are translated into problems that computers can help solve.” She says that coding should be taught not just so kids can go into the computer field, but so that they will understand the thought process, and be able to apply technological benefits to any field.  “Every industry, every creative discipline, every line of work from farming to fashion, engineering to english, management to marketing, can be improved by including insights provided by being deeply technologically literate.”  Computers, though they differ greatly from the complexities and disarray of standard communication, add a whole dimension that can be applied most broadly to problem solving, and encourage an analytical mindset.

Computational Media certainly adds many more tools to the resources we have available for artistic expression. The ability to process the environment around us and relay it in a digital fashion is certainly

approaching how people function on an everyday basis. We take in stimuli and then formulate a response which composes our output.  In this way, computational media is representative of the human process of reaction. This should make it more adept to express internal life. However, it is still just a tool. The creator and the user have a fundamental role in how the media will function, how it will be presented, and if it will resonate with the audience. I think, regardless of the capabilities the ideas still come from the artist and that will determine how much a piece of work can express your internal life.

Furthermore I don’t think I identity with he sense of order in computational media. When setting up a program everything has to be perfect to function when I view some complex piece of code I know it is going through a very precise series of steps to get an output. I feel like my internal life has more of chaos, and while computational media is adept to harness and organize the chaos, it still can’t capture that wild disarray, the sense that anything can happen, and the ability to function despite the disorder.

Narrative and interactivity do go together. Not exclusively, but there is certainly potential for narrative with interactive qualities to have a niche in the larger world of story. The funny thing about narrative is that it is often used as an outlet for reader interaction in a way, with characters created and played out in an identifiable way that lets the audience “enter” the story. I took a class on story and we learned that the more this gap is created for the readers to come into the world, and feel a part, the more successful the narrative was. So following along that logic, a narrative in which the audience can actually make decisions and influence the outcome should be the ultimate goal.

Yet artists mostly want control over the way their piece will go. It may be engaging for the audience, but if too much is put out of the artists hands how much of it is theirs in the end? I think some interactivity is great, but it can be helpful to control possible outcomes. Like in those choose your won adventure novels we read as kids, and it seemed like anything could happen based on the pages we flipped to, but the author had written the whole thing anyways. This way it’s still his work. If the viewer is given infinite capability it no longer becomes an artwork, or a narrative someone else has created, it instead becomes a tool.

Computational media in itself is a tool. It can be used for many means, and though their are certain limitations in its strict structure, it can be used very creatively. The important thing to remember is how basic the concepts are, and how they go beyond just the computer world. It is a way of thinking, a way of externalizing the most calculative of the mind’s basic operations. Variables, arrays, functions, for loops, can all be ways of thinking.

In this way, computational media can be a unifying force. Though it is used a tool to create, exposing the process could show the thought behind an artwork and help us realize the most fundamental ways the artist put it together. I know it’s not usually considered good form to break things down to their smallest parts and see how things work. You look at the whole painting, not the brushstrokes.But sometimes the world is so complicated, a and the messages we want to convey are even more so. Finding ways to think about these message and convey them in simpler ways could be a streamlined way to effectively communicate, and possibly start to solve the problems being considered, one step at a time.

As Jack Kerouac, a long winded and verbose novelist once said, “One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.”



What struck me the most about new media was not the medium used to create it, New technology, but that it facilitates meaningful Interaction between its participants. It’s essential to teach people how to use technology in order to understand our New rapidly changing world and communicate with computers, it’s a big part of why I’m taking courses here. However, it’s more important to teach people how to communicate with each other. Computational media allows people to communicate with each other and share ideas with people they may never actually meet in person. People can learn New skills that they would have never been able to Learn in a different time. Teachers can share knowledge and expertise with students all around the world. The lines between creator and consumer, producer and user are now blurred. In this regard, New Media is hailed as a harbinger of great social change.

When people who were not previously able to share their thoughts and opinions now how a channel where they can distribute their message, giving a voice to the voiceless. Regardless of new channels, methods, and mediums to communicate messages, people are still people, they’re just louder. These people who both produce and use content have been molded by the media they consume and make many of the same mistakes or send similar messages that that more traditional make. You can see this when examining the actions of young entrepreneurs to social media celebrities YouTube and even the President to the United States.

More than learning to communicate with computers and technology, people need to learn to communicate with each other, with people who are different and to respect those differences. They need to learn the importance and impact of their words and actions on those around them. People are still people even if you can’t see them, or they’re behind a screen. Teaching people to communicate with computers is important, but teach others to communicate with each other is essential.



Why did computers appear?

Computers appeared because people are imperfect and always wanted something to help us be more efficient. Computers started with helping people calculate faster. Now, not only they help with calculation and processing, but they help people connect and interact.

What is hard about communication? What do computers add?

Communication is hard because everyone has different background and feels differently. Communication is not like math and there is no way to know what one’s really thinking. For example, my color “Red” could be your “Blue”. We all know blood is red and that’s same as apple, male cardinal, strawberry. But, the color I am seeing as red can be someone else’s blue. And, there is no way to know if the color I am seeing as red is same as the color you are seeing as red because communication is imperfect and we will never know what other people are exactly feeling.

Still, computers add things to help us communicate better. Such as: text, skype, snapchat, google drive and etc.

Is Computational Media better at expressing your internal life?

I am a filmmaker and I am very interested in AR. (I think VR is limited and will die eventually since 40% of Air Force pilots experienced motion sickness from VR and I don’t think VR will be an universal thing if only 60% of people can use it). I have never seen, but I am very excited to see an AR movie one day. I think I will be able to experience something new that regular old movies couldn’t have done. However, platform is just a tool and the quality of art is not evaluated by a tool. For example, 3D Titanic is not a better movie than a 2D Titanic. Just because it’s 3D, it doesn’t mean you will be touched deeper. I don’t think Computational Media is better, or oldschool platform is better at expressing. Computer Media is one of the tools (and very new) to express your internal life, but a tool is just a tool and what’s important is the artist’s voice.  

Does narrative and interactivity go together? Is this good?

I think so. When I play a video game, I would feel much more connected to the game if I could feel like I am in its world and am one of the characters. There is an episode of Netflix show “Black Mirror” where a game company injects a 3D chip and the user plays a horror game. The too realistic hologram the user saw through the 3D chip made the game too intimate and it flied the user’s brain. The game went too far in Black Mirror, but I think narrative and interactivity go together well.

What is so important about Computational Media? How does computational media makes us more or less understanding of people unlike ourselves?

Computational Media is important because it brings us something that no other media could have done before.


Why did computers appear?

Because we needed a better way to communicate with one another.

What is hard about communication? What do computers add?

The ability to reach someone that is miles away in a quick and efficient way. Computers are the fix to that problem. You can’t expect to build a house in a reasonable time without the right tools just like you can’t expect to reach someone that isn’t near you quickly without some type of computer (phones included in this).

Is Computational Media better at expressing your internal life?

I would not agree with this. I think that expresses the life you want other people to believe you have. We all curate ourselves and put the best version we can online. We post what we think other people want from us or what other people might like.

Does narrative and interactivity go together? Is this good?

Of course, you can’t have one without the other. Once you add human responses to anything it forms some kind of narrative that is specific to that user. People like to feel in control and introducing interactivity gives people the chance to be in control of the narrative which intern makes it stronger.

What is so important about Computational Media? How does computational media makes us more or less understanding of people unlike ourselves?

The importance of Computational Media is that it allows people to regain control of their narratives. No longer do you need millions of dollars to broadcast your messages of hope of disappear. Now all you need is an email account and internet access and you can reach the world. It helps us better understand people that we might not have ever met in our lifetime. It helps to scale down Earth and make us realize how similar our struggles are and how alike we all are.

Nature of Computational Media

Why did computers appear?

Computers appeared because humans have always been making things more efficient and easy for us to accomplish tasks. The wheel is a great example of a technological breakthrough that dates back thousands of years. As technology advanced we came up with different ways of abstraction and continued to build upon these abstractions to form the computers that we have today. I took a course on computer architecture last year and we learned about the actual circuitry of a processor. It’s crazy how everything we see on our screens boils down to 0s and 1s. It’s even crazier to think that our computers can convert the code we write into those 0s and 1s that our computers can understand.

What is hard about communication? What do computers add?

Communication has always been difficult because we interpret things based on ourselves. We might interpret what someone says completely differently from what they meant and in many cases this leads to conflict. Computers and text messages add another possibility of miscommunication because texts don’t contain the verbal tone and body language of the speaker that is inherent to physical communication. Unless you know the speaker very well, it is very easy to misinterpret a text and most of us probably won’t ask “what did you mean?” We tend to assume the meaning of the text based on our own interpretation, not what the speaker means.

Is Computational Media better at expressing your internal life?

I think Computational Media can be very good at expressing my thoughts and beliefs if it’s done well. I think the interactive experience can evoke certain emotions that can’t necessarily be felt through just reading about what I think. We tend to be self centered, and simply hearing about other people don’t impact us nearly as much as feeling it for ourselves.

Does narrative and interactivity go together? Is this good?

I strongly believe that interactivity greatly enhances a narrative. The biggest example I have is the video games that aim to tell a story. I think being put in a world and actually being able to interact with the the characters makes the narrative a lot stronger because, again, we tend to be self centered. If we feel that we are having an effect on the game, the high points in the story stick with us more, and I think this a great thing. It helps us understand the emotions of the characters because if the game is immersive enough, it feels like we are right alongside the other characters. Virtual reality is aiming to make things even more immersive and I think once VR is more widely available (and fine tuned), stories can get really really powerful. Of course, non interactive stories can still be very powerful, but I do think interactivity adds another dimension that books can’t take advantage of.

What is so important about Computational Media? How does computational media makes us more or less understanding of people unlike ourselves?

I think empathy is a very important ability to have. It helps us communicate with those around us and those we don’t necessarily understand. Empathy prevents us from dehumanizing others and those we don’t necessarily understand, and Computational Media is a window into the minds of other people. If we can experience what others have experienced, then we gain a more well rounded point of view on life.

Characteristics of Computational Media

Why did computers appear?  

I think computers appeared to perform large sets of repeatable operations such as crunching numbers and decrypting messages. The first computers could do a single set of tasks. Later computers became programmable and could perform a wider range of operations.

What is Hard About Communication?

Before the advent of communications technology, human communication was limited by distance, time, speed, and scale. Back when talking was the main form of communication, communication was limited to individuals at the same location at the same time. Technologies such as the telegraph, telephone, radio, and television allowed people to communicate across vast distances at faster speeds to larger audiences. However, the fundamental challenges of communication persisted. Issues such as the arbitrary system of symbols that language is based on, regional and international differences in language, and even the nuances of interpersonal communication. Notwithstanding the fact that language and communication protocols are deeply rooted in culture, communication is multi-modal, which means that it is not only composed of language, but also cues such as facial expressions and gestures.

What do computers add?

Computers add to the affective dimension of communication. Whereas media such as text, images, audio, and video may produce their individual meanings and affects, computational media allows for the integration of all the above types of media to produce interactivity. This results in a more personalized experience compared to linear forms of media such as video. While the same video may produce different affects in different viewers, its structure and story is uniform. Whereas a user’s experience with computational media may be significantly different from another user’s experience based on their individual input.

Is Computational Media Better at Expressing Your Internal Life?

I think the answer to this question depends on the audience of my internal life. If the audience is solely myself, I don’t think computational media would necessarily be better at expressing my internal life than a diary or a journal. However, if I wanted to reach a wider audience, computational media may be more effective in producing empathy, since an interactive media-rich experience may better allow others to understand my point of view.

Does narrative and interactivity go together?

Absolutely. As I mentioned earlier, interactivity allows users to make their own meaning and affect the outcome of the narrative. The prime example of interactive narratives are video games. At its core, every video game tells a story. Player choices and actions within the game may directly or indirectly affect the outcome and experience of the narrative. The meaningful interaction of video games, that is, player actions resulting in changes in the game experience, is what I think makes video games one of the most accessible, captivating, and not to mention, popular forms of entertainment today.

What is so important about Computational Media?

To summarize, computational media combines elements of traditional media that allows for personalized experiences and meaningful interaction. The power of computational media lies in its ability to reach a wide audience but at the same time, provide personalized experiences based on user input. Computational media allows users to create their own meaning based on their interaction with the media and has a greater capacity to produce varying affects in different audiences.

How does computational media makes us more or less understanding of people unlike ourselves?

Like other media, the impact of computational media is heavily dependent on the narrative its creator wants to sell. That being said, I think computational media has a greater capacity for producing empathy for groups of people unlike ourselves. While text and video may allow us to understand other groups of people to a certain extent, computational media such as video games and VR allow users to view and interact with another person’s environment. I think the key here again is interactivity because it allows users to build empathy by exploring another person’s world.


Computers appeared mostly to help with long mathematical equations, ones that would take a long time to calculate or ones that needed to be repeatedly calculated. The hard thing about communication is that it is two sided, there is a receiver and a sender and if things go wrong on either end or in the middle a lot can be lost. I don’t know if computational media is better at expressing my internal life, I think it may be a less accessible medium though, because it takes a set of more specialized learned skills versus drawing or writing. I think interactivity can enhance a narrative if used properly. In general interactivity will engage an audience, but it is dependent on how they are engaged and can only be gauged by their reaction. I think this is a good thing, because it makes the audience more invested in the narrative. Computational media is important because I always see it as a mix of liberal arts and STEM. It makes science and data and stuff like that that some people would rather shy away from more accessible and fun. It can be used as an art expression or to visualize data. I think that computational data can be used to help people understand other peoples stories, but it needs to be used effectively. And people need to realize that it is just one narrative and you can’t understand everything about the creator from a single piece.  But computational media is more flexible in its ability to engage the audience and in it’s broad range of possible mediums.

Computational Media as Narrative

 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.