Thursday, March 25, 2010

Kirschenbaum - Screen Essentialism and Storage Media

I enjoyed the Kirschenbaum reading this week because of how he brought some subjects that I’ve thought of subconsciously to an academic discussion. For example, I’ve always felt that there is a bias in new media studies toward using the screen (and consequently the GUI) as the focal point of computer analysis. This idea of “screen essentialism” fits in well with Kirchenbaum’s analysis of inscriptions and codes, particularly with regards to storage media. I find it interesting that the average technology user is more adept at understanding and diagnosing problems with physical machines, but is often useless when the problem becomes digital. In section on Wednesday, I got the feeling that the group felt it made sense that we could be expected to fix our bicycles and cars, but not our computers. I don’t understand this because many computer problems involve understanding the role of each physical component, just as on a bike. Although I usually can’t see these parts, that shouldn’t prevent me from understanding them. If I were to put a bikes gears and brakes in an enclosure, the rider would still know what the problem was. Unlike me, Kirschenbaum seems to understand this behavior and when says,
“Greater and greater storage capacity will only serve to further dematerialize the media [[storage devices]] as their finite physical boundaries slip past the point of practical concern.”
As computers get better, our detachment to how they work only gets stronger because we have to think about computer’s limitations less and less. That idea fits in well with his discussion of how computer text is ephemeral, which makes sense when you think about how text is moved around within a computer and between computers.

Friday, 11am section.

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