My Journal




Bolter, Jay David, and Richard Grusin. Remediation: Understanding New Media. The MIT Press, 2000.

The promise of push-pull media is to marry the programming experience of television with two key yearnings: navigating information and experience, and connecting to other people. (By Kevin Kelly and Gary Wolf, “Push” in Wired Magazine Issue 5.03 | Mar 1997).

In Chapter 14, Bolter and Grusin discuss the concept of “Convergence,” based on a 1997 article from Wired magazine, in which the editors proclaimed the end of the Web browser in favor of the new push technology formed of the convergence of existing electronic technology. The wired editors go on to suggest that the many media of cyberspace are converging as if being pulled together in a way as powerful and unavoidable as gravity. Specifically, this convergence is comprised of the telephone, television, and Internet and offers a more full bodied experience.

“Experience” is the measure of this new medium, which we recognize as the claim to immediacy made by every attempt ad remediation. …Television offers immediacy through its stream of “live” images or sounds. This stream puts the viewer in contact with the world. As it converges with television, the Internet makes much the same offer but with the added value of interactivity” (223).

So, the real value in any such convergence is in the user experience. The “connected” world is now in a time in which we quickly embrace new media, new devices, new technology, etc., that deliver a richer experience in communication, entertainment, efficiency, etc. This includes the desire for the immediate, the transparent, and the more direct interaction with others. In this way, this triad convergence has users looking to the most useful or desired elements or features of each medium.

Convergence is the mutual remediation of at least three important technologies—telephone, television, and computer—each of which is a hybrid of technical, social, and economic practice and each of which offers its own path to immediacy. The telephone offers the immediacy of the voice or the interchange of voices in real time. Television is a point-of-view technology that promises immediacy through its insistent real-time monitoring of the world. The computer’s promise of immediacy comes through the combination of three-dimensional graphics, automatic (programmed) action, and an interactivity that television cannot match” (224).

Considering these details, one can look to the online video conversation (OVC) as an example of such a convergence. With its goal of interacting and communicating with real people through a television-esque video screen on a computer which one must navigate to arrive at the appropriate location and interact with to play other users’ videos, it stands as an ideal model of convergence.

It is important to note that convergence is not uni-directional. While one may generally think of the older and newer media converging with the newer media affecting the older, they tend to affect each other.

Convergence is remediation under another name, and the remediation is mutual: the Internet refashions television even as television refashions the Internet. …Not only will the new landscape look like television as we know it, but television will come to look more and more like new media” (224).

Additionally, convergence is not a situation in which one medium is going to entirely replace another. Rather, all involved media go on affecting and, to varying degrees, altering the other media as well as creating new media.

Convergence is often misunderstood to mean a single solution, but in fact, as these technologies appear, they remediate each other in various ways and in various ratios to produce different devices and practices. Convergence means greater diversity for digital technologies in our culture” (225).

Referring to the same quote I used to open this post, that from the WIRED editors on the merging of television, navigating experience and information, and connecting to people, Bolter and Grusin note:

The programming experience of television is the experience of an endless stream of images (refreshed thirty times per second) monitoring the world for the viewer. Navigating information and experience is the hypermediacy of the World Wide Web, in which the user is constantly reminded of the interface as she selects and follows the links. Finally, the promise of “connecting to other people” suggests transparency—breaking through the medium to achieve human contact. In the double logic of remediation, the desire for transparent immediacy is seldom abandoned, even by those most committed to and fascinated with hypermediacy” (226).

Again, the authors detail a situation that essentially defines the OVC. Its participants are perpetually reminded of the interface that requires them to navigate to certain videos and to interact with it to comment textually or respond in video format. The participants also find a certain level of immediacy and transparency in the FtF element (albeit simulated) of the video thus satisfying the desire to connect to other people. While the OVC does not monitor the world, as does a television with access to many channels, it is in a similar video form and monitors the interactions and conversations with an individual or a small group of individuals.

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