Digitizing The Narrative



Going through the reading one of the most interesting arguments that just seemed to stick out was that in Vincent Miller’s essay, “New Media, Networking and Phatic Culture”, in which he insists upon a shift from a narrative way of cultural expression to a rise of database as, “the prominent cultural logic of the digital age” (Miller 390). This means then that as a human race our means of expression, communication, and even archiving is shifting towards a new system dominated largely in part by socio-cultural trends in which the database is the high power.

The ways in which we as people traditionally communicated our feelings, emotions and innermost thoughts are changing, the traditional narrative that once  was the power behind cultural trends through novels, television, and movies is no longer as effective. Rather, It is now being affected by the new digital age in which Facebook and Twitter are the stars that set trends and even change the popular phatic language to a new one in which every thought must be able to be expressed in 140 characters or less. 

Even our common ideas of the structure of communication are shifting. Since the narrative is in danger of becoming obsolete we must learn to understand the database way of communication. Narratives that were once presented as, “finite works with beginnings and endings that follow a linear path establishing cause and effect thematic development determined by an author”, are being replaced by databases that as we see in Miller’s essay defined by Manovich as, “Structured collections of data organized for fast search and retrieval by a computer’ (Manovich, 2001: 218)” (Miller 390).  This new means is more so a collage of somewhat relative ideas.

Though a sad and unfortunate idea, it is already a more than possible reality. As we see in the other readings, especially David Beer’s “The comfort of mobile media: Uncovering personal attachments with everyday devices”. In this reading Beer establishes a well developed argument in which we see the reason for this shift. A once less meaningful item has and continues to push its importance and presence into our lives. A device once used as a portal or medium has now established itself as a presence. We hold it and carry it in a way we would a limb. And turning it off would only result in the same way as trying to stop the circulation in ones arms, we think of it and feel the lack of presence.

This only question left then is which holds more of a presence and which is truly the thing we value more, the knowledge and instant gratification that comes from the media, or the medium which delivers it to us. Which one truly holds the presence?

Once this question is considered it is easy to see why this shift is affecting more than communication but our past as well through Facebook. A tool, once used for social networking now holds us and our past, the way we hold it in our pockets at all times. We place so much trust in it is now more than a tool.


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