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Backwards Up Niagara Falls: Space/Time, Image/Text and the Biases of Information
Unformatted Document Text:  23 characteristic of digital media is informational mutability at the level of representation, how can new media be used to create messages which are recognizable and intelligible as messages: how can new media messages be sufficiently stabilized and appropriately formalized so as to signify? Hence the importance of what Bolter and Grusin call ‘remediation’ (1999), the mobilization by digital media of pre-digital forms and genres that already enjoy cultural authority and intelligibility across generations and locations - such as internet ‘radio’ (Black, 2001), digital ‘photography’, hypertext ‘novels’ and web ‘newspapers’, as well as the crucial category of romantic authorship (Frosh, 2001). 14 Older media, along with the ‘character of knowledge’ and monopolies of knowledge to which they are connected, are necessarily engaged in processes of branding, framing and interface design in order to prevent information from becoming mere noise. The second problem has to do with distribution bias – the ways in which the material properties of communication technologies structure the power relations between social groups through the diffusion of knowledge. It has become almost a cliché to claim that information ‘wants’ to be free. In reply to this I would say simply that information ‘needs’ to be chained. It has to be confined and policed, institutionally and ideologically, if it is to grant control. 15 The more that photographs, films, illustrations, paintings, texts and music become easily alterable, replicable and transferable ‘content’ – by virtue of technical capacity and cultural convention - so the need to control exactly who can transfer and alter what becomes ever more crucial to those seeking to profit from content’s sale. As the example of the record industry shows, how can digital media support monopolies of knowledge in societies where computers are household appliances? In other words, digital technologies destabilize not just traditional media technologies, but the power which their control can grant. Hence space and time need to be, and are being, configured ideologically and institutionally in order to restrict the decontextualisations that digital technologies facilitate. The central form which this remobilization is taking is the dramatic expansion in intellectual

Authors: Frosh, Paul.
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23
characteristic of digital media is informational mutability at the level of representation, how
can new media be used to create messages which are recognizable and intelligible as
messages: how can new media messages be sufficiently stabilized and appropriately
formalized so as to signify? Hence the importance of what Bolter and Grusin call
‘remediation’ (1999), the mobilization by digital media of pre-digital forms and genres that
already enjoy cultural authority and intelligibility across generations and locations - such as
internet ‘radio’ (Black, 2001), digital ‘photography’, hypertext ‘novels’ and web
‘newspapers’, as well as the crucial category of romantic authorship (Frosh, 2001).
14
Older
media, along with the ‘character of knowledge’ and monopolies of knowledge to which they
are connected, are necessarily engaged in processes of branding, framing and interface design
in order to prevent information from becoming mere noise.
The second problem has to do with distribution bias – the ways in which the material
properties of communication technologies structure the power relations between social groups
through the diffusion of knowledge. It has become almost a cliché to claim that information
‘wants’ to be free. In reply to this I would say simply that information ‘needs’ to be chained.
It has to be confined and policed, institutionally and ideologically, if it is to grant control.
15
The more that photographs, films, illustrations, paintings, texts and music become easily
alterable, replicable and transferable ‘content’ – by virtue of technical capacity and cultural
convention - so the need to control exactly who can transfer and alter what becomes ever
more crucial to those seeking to profit from content’s sale. As the example of the record
industry shows, how can digital media support monopolies of knowledge in societies where
computers are household appliances? In other words, digital technologies destabilize not just
traditional media technologies, but the power which their control can grant.
Hence space and time need to be, and are being, configured ideologically and
institutionally in order to restrict the decontextualisations that digital technologies facilitate.
The central form which this remobilization is taking is the dramatic expansion in intellectual


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