The Database and Narrative, According to Lev Manovich.

In Lev Manovich’s book “The Language of New Media”, Chapter 5: The Database, Manovich describes the relationship between the database and narrative.

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Photo retrieved from

The database, per Manovich is a collection of items used to perform various operations Manovich tells us that the use of these computerized collections is distinct from reading a narrative in that if over time new elements are added to then collections are formed, not a story. Further one finds that a narrative becomes a method of accessing data.

When discussing Data and Algorithm, Manovich mentions that not all new objects are openly databases. He says, a narrative to computer games is a result that can be experienced by users. The narrative is formed when gamers are given a task and reach the last level or the highest score.

In Database and Narrative Manovich tells us that the database and narrative are natural enemies. A narrative creates a cause and effect trajectory and the database as a cultural form simply represents the world as a list of items.

One also finds that Manovich does find that narratives and games are similar because the user must identify the underlying logic when proceeding through them. He tells us that data structures (CD-ROMs and Websites) and algorithms drive different forms of computer culture. So, databases correspond to data structure and narratives and games correspond to algorithm. So the ‘user’ of a narrative transverses a database by following links as established by the database creator. Thus one has an interactive narrative or ‘hypernarrative’ as described by Manovich. However, this does not mean that a random order of database records is a narrative. Manovich elaborates by stating that to qualify as a narrative, a cultural object (not all cultural objects are narratives) must placate a number of measures. It must contain an actor and narrator, three levels of text; the story and fabula (the chronological order of the events contained in the story), and the contents need to be a series of connected events that are either experienced or caused by the actor.

According to Manovich, database and narrative do not have the same status in computer culture. While a database can support a narrative it cannot foster the generation of a narrative.

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.

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

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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.