Information Overload in Network Time II: How to Find Your Media Studies Community

Remember how last week I described trying to find the DH crowd that speaks your (disciplinary) language – only in “digital” – as getting lost in network time? Unsurprisingly, the same applies to trying to look for aspects of your work that overlap or integrate with media studies. Here, too, I predict you will need perspectives and platforms to rest upon. But “rest upon” becomes more like a balancing act on a tiny pole that struts out and may disappear again, should you linger too long. That’s because DH communities seem to be a lot more organized and structured compared to media studies folk. Which, of course, is part of media studies folk characteristics, what with interests in virtual reality here, cyberpunk lit (WHA???) there, game studies over yonder, and media theory as cultural theory way up back there. As maddening and disorienting as that may be, here are some coordinates to start with:

 

As Mitchell and Hansen, in their Critical Terms for Media Studies introduction, pointed out (see Blog #1), there are really two sides to media studies, empirical and interpretive. One is primarily focused on mass media, the other on the constitution of media and on knowledge design (see video in Blog #2), based on pretty classic humanities questions: how do media and technology change us over time? How do we change ourselves using media and technology? Here’s how media archeologist Erkki Huhtamo approaches these questions (think materialist anthropology by way of media studies):

 

 

 

Or watch DJ Spooky present The Secret Song and walk us through the mediation and remixes of music by way of – who’d have thunk it – Dziga Vertov:

 

 

 

 

How did I get to Paul Miller? By way of Martin Irvine’s ever-evolving introduction to Media Theory and Meaning Systems. For those with less time but in need of some basic terminology, the Keyword Glossary from the University of Chicago remains helpful. You could also get into the 7-volume International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, but, nah… not so much. Just saying.

 

I often find my vantage points by looking at the medium itself. What are some developments in books and literature and our reading habits? Visit the ELO and decide for yourself. The video essay, as mentioned by Miller above, is gaining traction for creative and scholarly communication, and there are different ways to explore it, for example, with media commons, especially [in]Transition, or by pinning down what it actually is. Interestingly, you will find most of them on vimeo, not youtube. For someone else to analyze… Then there is media art and a great many variations on the theme, including Leonardo, or ISEA. The Society for Cinema and Media Studies is the largest scholarly organization in the US to promote and study these different forms of media. Their site includes a long list of media studies journals. However, SCMS does not including really interesting works like ADA or Imaginations or Game Studies or Vectors, or… These gems you have to find on your own!