My Journal



Understanding New Media – Enduring Knowledge

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” – T.S. Eliot “The Rock” (1934)

Veltman, Kim H. Understanding New Media: Augmented Knowledge & Culture. University of Calgary Press, 2006.

In my last post, I ended with a comment on how new media changes the way we organize knowledge and by extension changes the way build and retain it. To continue that discussion, I looked at Veltman’s chapter (10) on enduring knowledge.

[E]nduring knowledge, or perennial knowledge as it is called in the Far East, concerns what is stored in our memory collections (libraries, museums, and archives)” (229).

This really includes everything from history, philosophy, science, and even fiction. It would then also include archived video footage. Therefore, when considering the archivability of the online video conversation (OVC), it should be noted that it is somewhat outside our normal method of storing knowledge gained through communication, which has largely been in he form of print ever since Gutenberg. Of course, many conversations and lectures have been archived in either audio or video form, but those tend to be more of a performance or historical nature as opposed to more conversational-level communication.

Marshall McLuhan made us aware that storing knowledge in a given medium affects our treatment and conception of that knowledge: the container affects the contents. Hence print led to a greater emphasis on logic (dialectic) of language than on its structure (grammar) and its effects (rhetoric), whereas the advent of television shifted greater attention to effects. (231).

What focus, then, does the OVC have? It is certainly not mainly focused on structure/grammar, since it is largely conversational, consisting of natural speech. While it has the written element–adding comments to a video post–the logic/dialectic aspect is also not its main concern. In this way, it is most focused on the effects of the communication method on knowledge. What those effects are we will not fully know until the method is used far more and until it reaches a certain level of ubiquity. However, we can now perform small, focused studies on its use, which is what my research consists of in seeking to reveal some perspectives and outcomes of one application of the OVC.

One cannot easily search audio/video for key terms or phrases given our current technology. The OVC does offer the ability to add comments textually and to tag videos; however, while these are searchable, it requires manual entry of the tags in order to be effective or even functional. In this way, the OVC shows promise for being accessible in its archivability feature, yet it currently is lacking in this area.

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