COM327: Critical Analysis of Communication Media

Department: Department of Communication
Institution: NC State University
Term: Fall 05

This course critically analyzes new media as agents of change in cultural, social, and spatial infrastructures. By remembering that every media was once new, COM327 explores how the emergence of new interfaces change communication relationships, information dissemination, reading practices, and consequently the way we think about the world and ourselves. Within this context, this course focuses on expanding the meaning of traditional communication media, taking it beyond mass media, such as TV, radio, and even the fixed Internet, and re-thinking new media as mobile technologies, gaming, design, and media art. In order to accomplish this goal, it is critical to re-think old types of media as new media, as well as to create new concepts and new theories for new media. Having in mind that each media change carries old media meanings, but also creates new communication patterns, one must re-learn how to critically think about each new medium by taking into consideration its specific characteristics.

In summary, this course’s goals are to:

  1. understand communication media not only as the message transmitted but also as the material interfaces in which the information is inscribed;
  2. explore how communication interfaces change social, cultural, and communication practices;
  3. expand the concept of communication media by defining and theorizing what new media is;
  4. perceive old media as new media.

In the first part of the course, we will study from a philosophical and historical perspective some main concepts necessary to understand new media, such as interface, information, virtual, and hypertext. A global understanding of these concepts will help us think how different information supports and material interfaces change modes of reading and social thought. The second part of the course is dedicated to exploring old forms of media as new media, with the goal to understand how specific media changes cause social, spatial, and cultural shifts. Lastly, we will look into current and emerging forms and practices of new media, bearing in mind that new types of interfaces also change our concept of communication media. How can we consider mobile technologies, gaming, and new media art as new media practices?