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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 22 | volume IV | August-September, 2001



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 22August-September, 2001
Theatre Theory

Theater/Dance and New Media and Information Technologies

p. 1
Scott deLahunta

New versus Old Media

   It is important to recognise the extent to which 'new media' is not 'new', but is a continuation of an ongoing process of cultural mediatization. Tracing today's technological developments back through the relatively recent 'heyday' periods of consumer devices such as the walkman and VCR, TV remote control, cable and satellite television, polaroid cameras, etc. can help provide a perspective from which to resist the seductions of the 'new media' marketplace. Each of these technologies helped contribute to a shift towards more individually controlled and customized media environments… something 'new media' is quite happy now to capitalize on and even take credit for. Going even further back, the phenomenon of 'telepresence' and 'instantaneous remote communication' was initiated by the first telegraphic transmission in 1845, something easily forgotten as we respond to the excitement generated around email. These are just some examples of the ways in which the past can be connected with the present – and complicate this tendency towards a separation between 'old' and 'new'.
       However, this is not to suggest that one should reduce what 'new media' means into an assemblage of historical trajectories, the beginnings, middles and ends of which are somehow recognisable so that the rapidity of change can be understood and the future predicted. On the contrary, radical new forms of culture and society are emerging under the heading of 'new media'. This is partly technology driven: the speed with which digital computer and communications technologies are developing and becoming ubiquitous is unprecedented. In technological terms, 'old' usually refers to analog and 'new' to digital technologies. There is a clear difference between the two which I will not go into for the purposes of this paper. Suffice it to say: Our tools shape us as we shape them. The internet is not simply a faster, more convenient and flexible way of transmitting information – a 'better' telephone. It also contributes to a transformation in the way we understand, imagine and interact with the world. Plenty of studies show that word processing has changed the ways in which we read and write. The impact of developments in digital tools are reflected in the increasing redundancy of such questions as “What is knowledge in the 'information age'?” and “What are national borders in a 'networked global society'?”, and indeed these concepts are being newly defined.
       Signs such as these indicate that technological developments

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