I was a little puzzled by Manovich’s contention that “a code is rarely simply a neutral transport mechanism; usually it affects the messages transmitted with its help” (64). While I understand the ways in which the computer has become a “filter for all culture, a form through which all kinds of cultural and artistic production [are] mediated,” I struggle to see if this function is truly that disparate from forms of the past (64). To me, it seems that no matter what the form, the way in which one receives information and/or media shapes one’s interpretation and conceptualization of said information: while computer interfaces are the segues through which we receive so much of our information today, thusly making the computer’s interface the lens through which we interpret, I struggle to see how the computer interface has more influence on our conceptualization of information than, say, the novel or the cinema screen.
Manovich asserts that the computer and Internet are far more egalitarian and less hierarchical than previous forms, in that “two sources connected through a hyperlink have equal weight,” while the novel and film (traditionally) are narrative and thus prioritize certain pieces of information over others. However, when it comes to the issue of influence, I wonder if this narrativity – as well as the physical interface of the rectangular page in a neatly-bound book, or the screen in a darkened theater (both of which imply narrativity, as well as a certain positioning of the viewer/reader in relation to the text) – might “affect the messages transmitted” as much as the computer’s codes and interfaces do; thusly, it seems slightly dubious to me that the computer is truly unprecedented in its influence on our reception of information, as Manovich contends.