Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Creation of New Media

Today I read Chapter 3 of the book The Internet: The Basics entitled “New Media and Web Production”. This book was published in 2002 and written by Jason Whitaker. In this chapter, Whitaker does a good job of explaining the new media made available through the creation of the computer, and how they differ from media of the past. The main media that Whitaker focuses on in this chapter are text, hypertext, digital images, audio and video. Later in the chapter he discusses the basics of HTML, how the language has improved, and other languages and scripts that have stemmed from HTML.

According to Whitaker, the internet started text-based and has evolved through time as technology has improved. Hypertext was originally used to link text-based documents with other text-based documents, but as access to high speed internet has become more available, hypertext can now link images, videos, and audio. Another reason these types of media can be linked through hypertext is the ability to compress data. According to Whitaker, because there are certain colors we cannot distinguish, certain sound frequencies we cannot hear, and certain parts of videos that we do not need to see, they can ultimately be eliminated, compressing the file to reduce its size. As a frequent internet audio and video listener and watcher, I find this very interesting. It does make complete sense though. If we can’t see or hear certain things, why do they need to be there? Plus, by being able to eliminate these certain aspects and reduce the file sizes, it makes downloading these files a more enjoyable experience due to the decreased wait time.

Another part of the reading I found interesting was the section where Whitaker talked about digital imaging. Whitaker says, “There was a time, until very recently, a photograph was the touchstone for the truth of an event.” According to Whitaker, before images became digital, the process to edit a photograph was long, hard work, which is why people could usually used pictures to determine the accuracy of an event. However, today editing a picture has become a lot easier to do with the access to digital cameras and photo editing software. Take for instance the picture of Sarah Palin. She is seen holding a rifle in a bikini, but is that her? When I first saw this picture I was sure it was, but later the original picture was found. Somebody replaced the other person’s head with Palin’s, making it seem like it was actually her, when it actually wasn’t. This just goes to show you that you cannot always believe what you see.

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