In an age of proliferating media and news sources, who has the power to define reality? When the dominant media declared the existence of WMDs in Iraq, did that make it a fact? Today, the "social web" (sometimes known as Web 2.0, groupware, or the participatory Web)—epitomized by blogs, viral videos, and YouTube—creates new pathways for truths to emerge and makes possible new tactics for media activism.
In re: skin, scholars, essayists and short story writers offer their perspectives on skin—as boundary and surface, as metaphor and physical reality. The twenty-first century and its attendant technology call for a new investigation of the intersection of body, skin, and technology. These cutting-edge writings address themes of skin and bodily transformation in an era in which we are able not only to modify our own skins—by plastic surgery, tattooing, skin graft art, and other methods—but to cross skins, merging with other bodies or colonizing multiple bodies.
As we spend more and more of our time staring at the screens of movies, televisions, computers, and handheld devices—"windows" full of moving images, texts, and icons—how the world is framed has become as important as what is in the frame. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg examines the window as metaphor, as architectural component, and as an opening to the dematerialized reality we see on the screen.
In Always Already New, Lisa Gitelman explores the newness of new media while she asks what it means to do media history. Using the examples of early recorded sound and digital networks, Gitelman challenges readers to think about the ways that media work as the simultaneous subjects and instruments of historical inquiry.
In Aesthetic Computing, key scholars and practitioners from art, design, computer science, and mathematics lay the foundations for a discipline that applies the theory and practice of art to computing. Aesthetic computing explores the way art and aesthetics can play a role in different areas of computer science. One of its goals is to modify computer science by the application of the wide range of definitions and categories normally associated with making art. For example, structures in computing might be represented using the style of Gaudi or the Bauhaus school.
Deep Time of the Media takes us on an archaeological quest into the hidden layers of media development—dynamic moments of intense activity in media design and construction that have been largely ignored in the historical-media archaeological record. Siegfried Zielinski argues that the history of the media does not proceed predictably from primitive tools to complex machinery; in Deep Time of the Media, he illuminates turning points of media history—fractures in the predictable—that help us see the new in the old.
In Media Ecologies, Matthew Fuller asks what happens when media systems interact. Complex objects such as media systems—understood here as processes, or elements in a composition as much as "things"—have become informational as much as physical, but without losing any of their fundamental materiality. Fuller looks at this multiplicitous materiality—how it can be sensed, made use of, and how it makes other possibilities tangible.