The Interface and the Screen

In Lev Manovich’s boimagesok “The Language of New Media”, Chapter 2: The Interface, Manovich uses the term human-computer interface (HCI) to describe the ways users interact with computers. Under the heading, The Language of Cultural Interfaces he further mentions that the HCI is inclusive of both physical input and output devices. These devices are the monitor, keyboard, and mouse.

Interfacing of cultural data refers to text, photographs, film, music, and virtual environments. The language of cultural interfaces according to Manovich, are cinema, printed word, and general-purpose human-computer interface.

It is emphasized that the screens frame is separated into two spaces of different scales. These spaces are the physical and virtual. The screen functions as a window into an illusionary space and also as a flat screen that carries text labels and graphical icons. Manovich says the screen provides “depth and surface, opaqueness and transparency, images as illusionary space and image as instrument for action.” Manovich also tells us that screens can be interactive, real-time, and dynamic. According to Manovich screens are used by data-entry clerks, doctors and pilots, and are used at store checkout counters, and dashboards in cars. Of course there is also the computer screen. Manovich defined the screen, “a window into the space of representation that itself exists in our normal space.”

The human interface and representation refers to the spectator as having double identity in that the spectator simultaneously exists in “physical space and the virtual space that continues it.” Manovich elaborates on this idea and tells the reader that because of the double identity, there is a “tradeoff for new mobility of the image as well as for the newly available possibility to represent an arbitrary space, rather than having to simulate the physical space where an image is located.”

My biggest impression from this chapter is the realization that the screen itself is what enables one to posses the illusion that are able to navigate through virtual spaces. The best example of this can be seen in the movie Johnny Mnemonic.

Memes and Marketing….Who Knew?

A meme is simplyf2a69980-1889-4698-ab7d-d02b7082ed74 a piece of digital content, which is quickly spread around the Internet and becomes a cultural experience that is shared (units of culture). Memes are known for their entertainment value but they should be taken seriously due to their marketing, advertising, and public relations advantage.

Memes are relevant to digital media and communications because marketers can use them. Marketers use memes as a form of viral marketing. This form of marketing is known as memetic marketing. Memes are trendy and lucrative. The use of memes results in awareness. Memes have been used to create interest in films, campaigns, and advertisements.

The Semiotic Breakdown of a Colgate Ad


creative-print-ads-5For this post I will breakdown the semiotics of an ad, which was assigned to me. I will follow along the lines of Roland Barthes explanation of semiotics.

The semiotic breakdown of this ad covers the linguistic, denoted, and connoted message.

This advertisement from Colgate advocates its product, dental floss. There is no text in this ad. The picture is simplistic and yet still bold enough to attract  attention of what I believe to be a reader of a magazine.

The only linguistic message one will gather is the Colgate name on the dental floss container.

The denoted message consists of a bright red strawberry against a white background. The strawberry has bright green leaves. The seeds from the strawberry are lying on a white surface. Also, there is a container of dental floss.

The connoted message is that the seeds from the strawberry are a cause for the use of dental floss. Not only does one have to worry about the seeds but also the sugars contained in the big juicy strawberry. The bright green leaves at the top of the strawberry with the white background of the ad reminds one that floss will be necessary to get those sticky greens off your teeth by the use of floss. Therefore, Colgate dental floss is the answer for removing seeds, sugars, and greens that get stuck in ones teeth.

In conclusion, this reveals that a consumer’s use of Colgate dental floss is the best way to remove unwanted debris from the tight spaces between teeth and along the gum line.

What Did Lev Manovich Say About New Media?

Lev Manovich, a theorist of digital culture, offers insight regarding new media in his book The Language of New Media. In chapter one, “What is New Media?” Manovich answers two questions.

Lev Manovich.
    Lev Manovich

First, What is New Media in relation to how culture is affected by computerization? According to Manovich, all stages of communication reap the effects of computer media including acquisition, manipulation, storage, and distribution. The effects of computer media stretch out to include the following types of media: texts, still and/or moving images, sound, and three-dimensional construction.

Second, What are the ways in which the use of computers to record, store, create, and distribute media makes it new? Manovich’s take on this is that new media represents a convergence of computing and media technologies.

Manovich then reveals the five principles of new media as numerical representation, modularity, automation, variability, and cultural transcoding. If all existing media is translated to numerical data that is accessible for the computer then graphics, sounds, shapes, spaces, moving images, and texts are computable. This is where media becomes new media because the computer has become a media processor.

Numerical representation as described by Manovich is all new media objects composed of a digital code regardless of it was initially created on a computer or converted from analog media sources resulting in individual customization not mass standardization.

Modularity according to Manovich is a new media object such as: images, sounds, shapes and behaviors that are represented by discrete samples. These collections of discrete samples (pixels, characters, and scripts) have the same modular structure. Thus, they maintain their separate identities when assembled into larger-scale objects. This means they can be accessed, modified, and substituted without having an effect on the structure of an object.

Automation being both numerical representation and modularity allows for manipulation and access. Manovich mentions that accessing and reusing existing media objects is just as essential as creating new ones.

Variability for Manovich also is composed of numerical representation and modularity, and holds the position that a new media object is not fixed, but rather can exist in different and potentially infinite versions. So size, format, color, shape trajectory, duration, and point of view can all be defined as variables.

Cultural transcoding according to Manovich is the most substantial consequence of computerization. Cultural transcoding then is two separate layers, which are the “cultural layer” and “computer layer” being compounded together. So just as human culture modeled the world and the computer represents it, together a new computer culture is formed and an example of that is databases.

Manovich then concludes the chapter with “What New Media Is Not.” New media according to Manovich is not cinema because cinema as sampled time but preserved in linear order is a “human-centered” representation calling for one to identify with another’s bodily image. It is also not digitization because it is characterized by loss of data, noise, and degradation. New media is not interactivity (hyperlinking) because it calls for one to identify with another’s mental structure.

Gamification Explained

Picture retrieved from

This past week I was introduced to the idea of Gamification, but I have been reached by the Gamification technique for quite some time now.

Gamification is the concept of applying both game mechanics (points, levels, challenges, virtual goods, gifting, and Leaderboards) and techniques in order to provide an engagement of activity which motivates people to reach or achieve a particular goal. Gamification bases context on people’s needs, desires, and impulses.

According to, Gamification techniques strive to leverage people’s natural desires for Competition, Achievement, Status, Community Collaboration, and Altruism.

Bartle’s 4 Player Types are profiled as Killers, Achievers, Socialites and Explorers. Killers are defined by a focus on winning, rank, and direct peer-to-peer competition. These players are engaged by Leaderboards and ranks. Achievers are defined by a focus on attaining status and achieving preset goals quickly. These players are engaged by achievements. Socialites are defined by a focus on socializing and a drive to develop a network of friends and contacts. These players are engaged by Newsfeeds and Friends lists. Explorers are defined by a focus on exploring and a drive to discover the unknown. These players are engaged by obfuscated achievements.

Examples of Gamification are Frequent Flyer Miles, Hotel Rewards, Ebay, and Farmville.

I personally enjoy the use of both Southwest Airlines Rapid Rewards and Marriott Rewards. Along with these two, the MyPanera Card has come in quite handy. Panera offers discounts and free items for using their card. Another example of Gamification that I enjoy is Regal Rewards. Each time I purchase movie tickets and concession items I accumulate points. I have been rewarded from Regal with free items such as soft drinks and popcorn so far. This is great for me because I always get popcorn when going to the movies and that desire is fulfilled when my ticket stub informs me that I have earned a free popcorn.

According to the research company Gartner, by 2015 customer retention will be become as important as Facebook, eBay, or Amazon, and more than 70% of Global 2000 organizations will have at least one gamified application.

My first group assignment for my Assembling Digital Media class is to come up with an idea for Gamification. I will post the outcome after my group presentation.