Gitelman 2006

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Gitelman, Lisa. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2006.

"Different versions and styles of media history do make a difference." (1)

Tendency to naturalize or essentialize media (2)

Today's "new media" "tend casually to be conceived of as what mighr be called the end of media history." (2) -- moving unidirectionally and coherently along a single path; distributed digital networks as "ultimate medium" because "collectively, they are the medium that can survive thermonuclear war" (3)

Art vs. Science

Historial art objects: still art today, even if tastes have changed; represent "culture"

Historical scientific objects: not considered "science" today, has been superceded by other methods/objects; represents "nature"

"What kind of historical subjects are media?" (3) -- "Media muddy the map. Like old art, old media remain meaningful. ... Yet like old science, old media also seem unacceptably unreal." (4) -- in part because "media are so integral to a sense of what representation itself is" (4)

"media represent and delimit representing, so that new media provide new sites for the ongoing and vernacular experience of representation as such." (4)

"If history is a term that means both what happened in the past and the varied practices of representing that past, then media are historical as several different levels." -- are "themselves denizens of the past" -- "functionally integral to a sense of pastness" -- "involves implicit encounters with the past that produced the representations in question" (5)

Instrument and protocols "become self-evident as the result of social processes that attend both laboratory practice and scientific publication." (5)


"new media are less points of epistemic rupture than they are socially embedded sites for the ongoing negotiation of meaning as such." (6) -- are "at the intersection of authority and amnesia" (6) -- "a supporting protocol shared by both science and media is the eventual abnegation and invisibility of supporting protocols" (7)

Cannot think about "content" without "attending to the medium that both communicates that contenta nd represents or helps set the limits of what that content can consist of." (7)

"I define media as socially realized structures of communication, where structures include both technological forms and their associated protocols, and where communication is a cultural practice, a ritualized collocation of different people on the same mental map, sharing or engaged with popular ontologies of representation. As such, media are unique and complicated historical subjects." (7)

"Specificity is key." (8)

Critique of Bolter and Grusin (treating media as having their own agency), Kittler (idea of intrinsic technological logic), and approach media archaeology