Chris Mendez in For Managers

Digital theory: Theorizing New Media

I'm reading a few books on new media including Digital Theory 1 and I thought these quotes were interesting.


In Western cultures, people used products to help construct their identity. In a New Media world, people now pick and choose information they prefer to share to construct their self-image.

New Media generally allows audiences to play around with and make their own composite identities from various and sometimes even contradictory sources. This process is referred to by Hartley (1999: 177–85) as ‘DIY citizenship’, the notion that the media now allows us to all create our own complex, diverse and many faceted notions of personal identity. With so many different communities now open to us on the web, we can begin to simply pick and choose which identities we want to adopt and which ones we want to reject, allowing an individual to decide how they define themselves rather than simply having to stick to the narrow and limited number of choices that once defined the past.


Users need to be careful about capitalists and their attempts to hijack good intentions in New Media. Groundswell talks about how the platform for dialog offers new capitalist opportunities for gain. It creates new opportunities for brands to be closely linked to digital society.

Critics have also argued that a landscape of postmodernism and New Media are turning citizens of democracies into apolitical consumers, no longer able to distinguish between the simulated illusions of the media and the harsh realities of capitalist society that they implicitly conceal. Many critics argue that now even the political landscape is a triumph of image over substance, a terrifying symbol of McLuhan et al’s (1967) aphorism that ‘the medium is the message’, that is, a world where how something is presented is actually more important than what is being presented. In particular, these critics tend to argue that the postmodern obsession with ‘image’ over ‘depth’ produces a superficial and artificial environment where little is taken seriously; that its predominantly ‘camp’ aesthetic has turned everything into entertainment.


The Internet is revealing the limitations of broadcast.

Postmodernist critics might argue that even the notion of ‘broadcasting’ itself is a totalizing concept which was never able to successfully reflect the sheer diversity of a nation or its people (see Creeber 2004). The phrase ‘narrowcasting’ – that is used to denote New Media’s pronounced interest in addressing and catering for niche audiences – perhaps better encapsulates the role of television and radio in a world of multimedia (see Curtin 2003).


We perceive to have options but in the end, we really don't.

Postman’s nightmarish vision of a world where all information is packaged as entertainment is perhaps further facilitated by a form of New Media that appears to give us so much choice, but ultimately ends up by limiting real choice; reducing everything to exactly the same commodified and consumerist product.


Remixing is changing the way we produce, consume and think about media, media distribution, authors, and audiences.

The hypertextual 'cut' and 'paste' culture of New Media –that seemingly encourages sampling, poaching, and remixing– produces not only copyright problems, it also further confuses the very means by which we conceive of the media and its relationship with its audience. Certainly, the idea that a media organization like the BBC could so rigidly dictate public tastes seems almost unimaginable now. As Lev Manovich points out, we may now require a completely new theory of authorship to help us understand the current relationship between media and its audience.


  1. Creeber, G. 2009. Digital theory: theorizing New Media