Immediacy, Hypermediacy, and Remediation

I found several interesting points within Jay Bolter and and Richard Grusin's article "Remediation - Understanding New Media." In the introduction, bolter and Grusin explain the difference between Immediacy and Hypermediacy, and how these two concepts have contributed to the evolution of digital media. Bolter and Grusin argue that there is a slight paradox in digital media, in which the development of digital media has focused on increasing both immediacy and hypermediacy.

Meanwhile in Chapter 1, Bolter and Grusin explore the historical development of immediacy and hypermeidacy in art throughout history. For example, B & G explain how certain epochs of art have attempted to increase the immediacy of the painting, but making it look as realistic as possible. The underlying hope is that rather than seeing a painting of a field, viewers 'see' the actual field.

B & G go on to discuss the role of photography in the development of immediacy in human art. B&G explain that photography, the most immediate of human art forms, historically has been a contentious art form due to the fact that the mechanical and chemical process of photography systematically conceals both the process and the artist.

B & G go on to explore the world of digital media (computer programs, etc) within the context of immediacy, hypermediacy and remediation. First off, B&G explain the almost conflicting desire of digital media consumers for both transparent immediacy as well as hypermediacy.

Finally, B&G discuss the nature, process, and implication of remediation within digital media. In particular, B&G argue that digital media has become aggressive in its remediation of older forms of media. For example, B&G explain how computer graphics studios (Pixar) have co-opted certain characteristics of traditional animated cartoons that have become an integral part of the new generation of digital media production.

Also in response to last week's readings, I have this to say...

In contrast to Enzensberger who makes the Marxist argument that digital media should attempt to diminish social hierarchy by completely blurring the lines between producer and consumer, I think there are several concrete benefits of having an informal hierarchy within digital media.

Given how much information there is out in the world, it is foolish to think that anyone and everyone has the same knowledge base for any given issue. In reality, while some people have a much deeper understanding of the American political theater, others know much more about sports, or literature, or Turkish pop culture. Thus, although one of the premises of digital media is the blurring of consumer and producer of media, I see good reason for creating an informal hierarchy in the realm of digital media.

However, rather than having a centrally-controlled hierarchy, it is possible, and probably preferable, to have a decentralized hierarchy structure. So, in comparison to Amazon.com that has a centrally-controlled algorithm to decide which products should come up first, YouTube and other social networking websites allow viewers to rate videos (or other digital media), and then use the aggregate viewer rating to determine which video should come up first. Such a model of consumer participation in the creation of an informal hierarchy of digital media allows for all the benefits of consumer-produced media, and diminishes the ability of nay-sayers to negatively influence the discourse.