Community, Interactivity, Anonymity, and Media Theory

I examine here the intersection of traditional media theory, which concerns itself mostly with "fixed" or "published" expression such as films, poetry, novels, and broadcasting sources (radio, TV, etc) with more current media, as typified by the net. The net has aspects of community, interactivity, and anonymity which are closely bound up in how it is used and what it means to use the net; how well are these aspects captured by the reasoning of more traditional theory? How might theory have to change to encompass them?

The set of pages following are an attempt at an overview of the problem. The literature of both subjects is too vast for more than a cursory treatment, but perhaps this will serve to raise some relevant questions. I take multiple slices through the contents of the net and contents of media theory, from different perspectives, to try to get a handle on the problem; the resulting nonlinearity of presentation is typical of either McLuhan's writing or of Minsky's Society of Mind.

Some of these pages make citations into the course reading; the actual contents of the reader are available only to those who know the right magic word, for reasons I went into in class; those of you who were there will know the magic word. If you have any problems accessing them (e.g., you get an "Access Denied" error from the server), send me mail and I'll fix you right up.

The list below shows some slices through this material; if you start to follow them, of course, you'll discover they the reference each other extensively---most of them are heavily interrelated. You can use this list to sample the smorgasbord without getting completely lost.

Lenny Foner
Last modified: Mon Jul 21 00:04:51 EDT 1997