An Introduction to NMEDIAC, The Journal of New Media and Culture
- Jonathan Lillie, Managing Editor

Welcome to the first issue of NMEDIAC, the Journal of New Media & Culture. NMEDIAC has adopted the mission of publishing peer-reviewed papers and audiovisual pieces which contextualize encoding/decoding environments and the discourses, ideologies, and human experiences/uses of new media apparatuses. In relation to previous work, NMEDIAC will provide an intellectual canvas where the cultural spaces and experiences of new media are theorized and rigorously explored within both global and local contingencies of the present and past. In particular, we will publish articles that take Cultural Studies and 'critical Internet Studies' approaches to analyzing new media.

In addition to publishing scholarly articles that address the theme of new media & culture, NMEDIAC will also solicit and publish audiovisual new media art and presentations. Some of these pieces will incorporate scholarly analysis, but others will 'stand alone' as expressions that contextualize and comment on general or specific themes and issues that new media technologies bring us up against -- such as new media as experienced culture.

This idea of merging academic and artistic explorations has certainly been influenced by Peter Weibel and Timothy Druckrey's book, net_condition_art and global media (2001). In this work, the writing of a diverse range of contemporary cultural theorists and new media artists are arranged within 450 pages of glossy photos, collages, and screen shots. The combination of media and author orientations toward the object of new media as art, as cultural, and as socio-cultural articulations supply an amazingly diverse contextually which may also be attempted and published via the multimedia capabilities of the Web.

In industrialized countries we are living in an interesting period in media production. Specifically, in some respects, the practices and innovation cycles for digital production for certain media like Web multimedia are very much in their infancy. As Lev Manovich points out, the boundaries between new media art and design, artisans/designers, are very much blurred. Furthermore, we are at a moment when the 'Old Net' of closed community networks, MUDs, Usenet, and euphoria for horizontal communication has been mostly engulfed by the Web : both technologically and in discourse. This transition Tetzlaff writes, "directly correlates to the Web becoming a safe home for capital…a mass medium for a fragmented postmodern culture" (2000, p. 102). While, the discursive field of cyberculture and new media has not been totally usurped by the techno-evolutionary discourses of the new economy and high-tech liberalism, counter articulations are still greatly needed. Recognizing this, Manovich, Levy, and others argue for new media art as resistant discursive strategies that can positively influence the development of mainstream new media production practices while creating alternative spaces of signification. Thus, NMEDIAC seeks to encourage (a) new media art as articulated practices, and (b) articles which explore new media art within its multiple contingencies.

In this first issue we offer three teasers of what is to come with regard to new media art: “Superstitious Appliances” and "in an unrelated sequence comes" by Jason Nelson, and Thomas Swiss/Motomichi Nakamura’s poem "Hey Now." Jennifer Ley, in her introduction to Nelson’s work, notes that this author’s use of Flash to create new media poems “draws us into his own comforter and couch cushion fort of language, symbol, sound and meaning. His work speaks the tongue of people, not trends, fads or fetishes” all too customary within online programming communities. Megan Sapnar familiarizes us with “Hey Now” by discussing how the aesthetic possibilities of new media poetry are addressed in the tone and inspirations for Swiss/Nakamura’s piece. Similarly, the aesthetic and textual issues of new media poetry also emerge in George Hartley’s review of Loss Pequeño Glazier’s forthcoming book, Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries. “Mobility, transitivity, manipulability, interactivity, programmability, hyperactivity,” Hartley writes, “are the qualities of Glazier's ideal Web poem, a kind of anti-text that moves from context to dystext.” In an attempt to expand on the issues and expressions explored in Loss’s book and the poems and articles of this first issue, the Fall 2002 issue of NMEDIAC is being set aside as a special issue focusing solely on new media art and featuring Thomas Swiss as Guest Editor.

Beyond offering space for the consideration of new media as art, NMEDIAC is also an attempt to refocus scholarly practice around and within the diverse history of inquiries into the nature of technology and culture, which includes the work of scholarly celebrities like McLuhan, Innis, Ellul, Heidegger, Leo Marx, Foucault, Raymond Williams, Barthes, and many others. Herman and Swiss note in their introduction to The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory (2000) that “the Web can be understood as techne in Martin Heidegger’s (1977) sense of the term; that is, as a technology that is simultaneously an instrument and an activity through which the self and world are cast into sense, thereby transforming ‘being’ in the world” (p. 1-2). The increasingly widespread use (and cultural perforation in the collective imaginary and narratives) of networked information and communication technologies represents discursive and physical human engagement with an ever-changing media apparatus and within complex processes of globalization. In giving NMEDIAC the subtitle of “The Journal of New Media & Culture,” we thus take culture to be the broad, but very real object of study -- as the partially open field of articulation, contestation, and change -- and as being the contingency and texture of lived experience. The current state and future discourses of new media are global phenomena that are cultural and mediate how culture is lived.

With this outlook, NMEDIAC seeks avenues of analysis which create new knowledge and commentaries on and within this terrain. To begin the articles in this issue, in Party Over, Oops, Out of Time’: Y2K, Technological ‘Risk’ and Informational Millenarianism Kavita Philip and Terry Harpold analyze Y2K as a discursive event that simultaneously mediated and created the crisis of what turned out to be a non-event due to the failure of disaster and apocalypse to materialize as society and computer systems rolled-over into the new millennium. In her essay, Computer mediation and postmodern narrative practices: computational narratives in Mason&Dixon, Miriam Fernández Santiago looks at novelist Thomas Pynchon's most recent work as an example of postmodern narrative, paralleling organizational logics which permeate and influence narratives of computer technology. Megan Sapnar considers how the online community of Flash developers influences the ‘look and feel’ of interactive multimedia interfaces on the Web in, From Text Effects to Canned Goods: Identity Construction and Visual Codes in the Flash Development Community. Brian Walsh’s Media Literacy for the Unconscious Mind is an entertaining survey of carefully crafted tactics for capturing our unconscious attention in the modern phenomena of the Western shopping mall.

Heidegger, Martin. (1977). The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays. New York: Harper.

Herman, Andrew, and Swiss Thomas. (2000). The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory. New York: Routledge.

Tetzlaff, David. (2000). Yo-Ho-Ho and a Server of Warez. In Andrew Herman and Thomas Swiss (Eds.). The World Wide Web and Contemporary Cultural Theory. New York: Routledge.

Weibel, Peter, and Druckrey, Timothy, Eds.(2001). Net_Condition: Art and Global Media. MIT Press.


Jonathan Lillie, Managing Editor,

Jonathan is an associate professor of digital media and online journalism at Loyola University Maryland. He was a Park Doctoral Fellow in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His interests include online journalism, the cultural uses of Internet technologies, new media, 'information society' discourses, and web pornography.

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