Choose Your Own Adventure

As I was reading Manovich’s “Language of New Media,” I found myself becoming increasing frustrated with the length, redundancy, antiquation, and blandness of his writing. The author has many compelling ideas, and I appreciate the categorical way in which he presents the multilayered components of old and new media forms. However, his writing was dull and failed to communicate the revolution, intrigue and all-around coolness of his subjects, which in turn meant that I failed to appreciate the finer points of his work. Sergei Eisenstein and Photoshop and the sweet new things computers can do make me want to TYPE IN ALL CAPS; Manovich does not exhibit any comparable fascination with his subject.

Perhaps my frustration with Manovich stems from the fact that he is using an old medium to analyze and organize new media. To write/read about hypermedia is a very different experience from seeing and using it. To play god with Manovich’s writing for a moment, his work would be much more interesting if it was in blog or webpage form and contained interactive ways to experience his writing. His discussion of hypermedia reminded me of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books I read as a kid, and have now rediscovered as a pseudo-adult (http://editthis.info/choose_your_own_adventure/Main_Page). Like the author’s definition of hypermedia, in Choose Your Own Adventure the reader/user can determine their own path based on personal choice and rationality, but it is within a preconceived interface that affects how the reader/user perceives their options. As Manovich elucidates, “The interactive media asks us to identify with somebody else’s mental structure…a computer used is asked to follow the mental trajectory of a new media designer” (p. 74). If Manovich had paired his thoughts with examples rather than limiting himself to a single medium, I could have experienced his work in a much more profound way.

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