Thursday, April 3, 2008
cultural histories and new media
In the third part of Josh's lecture he discussed the empowered narrative and showed us the Ramesh website that attempts at documenting/archiving native cultures and communities via new media. Josh left us with the question of how this idea of using new media to archive cultures and traditions is similar to the memex. By creating a virtual world that is dedicated to the histories and traditions of the physical you are in essence, creating a space where time remains the only constant. There is no longer any actual landscape or locality associated with the history. They now become simply a .mov file on the internet, it is no longer tangible. Much of what is great about the history of our world is the ability we have to go and see and feel a place, and location. If you remove this you remove the very spirit or soul of that tradition. A digital platform may be perfect for archiving stories, or specific events, but you can never replace the sensation of physically being there. The memex deals with archiving of information and information alone. In this sense the archiving of certain traditions is possible, but it is only slightly better than the methods we have today, books, pictures, video, and audio. What a virtual space like a website offers is a coherent and organized space of these texts, pictures, video and audio. We can now instead of having a book, a picture, a dvd, and a cd, all tangible objects, can have a url and be able to experience all four and multiple versions of each. So for me a website like Ramesh is a cool idea, but it is limited to what we can digitalize, which at the current moment is text, pictures, audio and video. It does offer a platform however for people to interact, to discuss events, stories, and post their own videos pictures and audio to share with the community. The community feel could be facilitated through such interactions. However there is a definite disconnect to the impersonality of the set up. Nothing can replace the physical meeting of people of a culture, very similar to how you can never replace the feeling of being in a certain location at a certain time.