chapter
8 Pages

Introduction

The purpose of this book is to offer students conceptual frameworks for thinking through a range of key issues which have arisen over two decades of speculation on the cultural implications of new media. It is first and foremost a book about the questions, the ideas and debates – the critical issues – that the emergence of new media technologies has given rise to. In this, we hope that it is a genuine contribution to the study of the new media and technologies. There is no such thing, however, as a wholly impartial, objective work that sets about cataloguing the debates, one after the other, without arguing for one thing rather than another, or judging some aspects of the problems to be important, and others not. The reader should therefore note in advance that it is a necessary component of this book, as of any other, that its authors judge what is important and what is not, and that they argue for some theoretical positions, and against others. We do not aim to summarise blandly the state of the art in new media and technology, but to present for the reader some of the contested issues that are rife within this emerging field. You will find in the book arguments for different positions. Where this is so, we are overt about it, and we let you, the reader, know. Indeed, this is only to be expected, since the bodies of expertise this book uniquely brings to bear on its topic draw on our various disciplinary backgrounds in visual culture, media and cultural history, media theory, media production, philosophy and the history of the sciences, political economy and sociology. Finally, just as it is important to be aware of what differentiates the various arguments in this book, it is also crucial to note what all of our arguments share. This book’s authors have in common a commitment to a synthetic approach to new media studies. We each individually hold that the field is so complex that it cannot be addressed other than by combining, or synthesising, knowledges. While this adds some complexity to the book as a whole, it all the more accurately embodies the contested field that is new media studies.