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'A Minor Earthquake':Barthes and New Media Texts
Unformatted Document Text:  8 How are the codes’ functions different or similar in approaches to new media as compared to the scriptable approach to print-based texts? Murray’s (1999) notion of agency speaks to difference in the function of the hermeneutic code. Even in the active, intertextual, writerly reading, the textual elements that relate to suspense and curiosity are fixed and structured in the author’s syntagm. Agency in the digital environment means that (in video games, for example) at least the timing of these elements, and perhaps their very existence and order, are controlled by the user in her custom syntagm, even if the "answers" are ultimately as determined. Murray (1999) argues that the agency and navigational space in digital environments make them well suited for the transmediated journey story, with its challenge of finding solutions to "seemingly impossible situations" (p. 138). Another kind of hermeneutic pleasure in digital environments, she finds, lies not in the resolution of the story, but in the cognitive satisfaction of understanding a work’s structure: "electronic closure occurs when….the map of the story inside the head of the reader becomes clear" (p. 174). In an idea that relates to both the hermeneutic (curiosity) and proairetic (action) codes, Manovich compares the Web surfer to Baudelaire's flaneur, who "moves through the space of a Parisian crowd, mentally recording and immediately erasing the faces and figures of the passersby" (p. 268). The Web flaneur finds pleasure and meaning in the ever-changing data stream: he "wants to lose himself in [the Web's] mass, to be moved by the semantic vectors of mass media icons, themes, and trends" (p. 271). Sequences and Agglomerations Barthes (1974) uses a spatial metaphor to describe syntagmatic and paradigmatic relations among code elements:

Authors: Owen, Bradford.
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8
How are the codes’ functions different or similar in approaches to new media as
compared to the scriptable approach to print-based texts? Murray’s (1999) notion of
agency speaks to difference in the function of the hermeneutic code. Even in the active,
intertextual, writerly reading, the textual elements that relate to suspense and curiosity are
fixed and structured in the author’s syntagm. Agency in the digital environment means
that (in video games, for example) at least the timing of these elements, and perhaps their
very existence and order, are controlled by the user in her custom syntagm, even if the
"answers" are ultimately as determined. Murray (1999) argues that the agency and
navigational space in digital environments make them well suited for the transmediated
journey story, with its challenge of finding solutions to "seemingly impossible situations"
(p. 138). Another kind of hermeneutic pleasure in digital environments, she finds, lies not
in the resolution of the story, but in the cognitive satisfaction of understanding a work’s
structure: "electronic closure occurs when….the map of the story inside the head of the
reader becomes clear" (p. 174).
In an idea that relates to both the hermeneutic (curiosity) and proairetic (action)
codes, Manovich compares the Web surfer to Baudelaire's flaneur, who "moves through
the space of a Parisian crowd, mentally recording and immediately erasing the faces and
figures of the passersby" (p. 268). The Web flaneur finds pleasure and meaning in the
ever-changing data stream: he "wants to lose himself in [the Web's] mass, to be moved by
the semantic vectors of mass media icons, themes, and trends" (p. 271).
Sequences and Agglomerations
Barthes (1974) uses a spatial metaphor to describe syntagmatic and paradigmatic
relations among code elements:


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