Sunday, March 18, 2007

The bombardment of information

“The Database” by Lev Manovich explains the new perception of time and reality. He looks at this new age of technology and how the functionality of a computer has influenced how we think and act. The traditional view of structured time, where actions must be chronological, has been destroyed by the way new age of database where information is not sequential and instead a pot full of information that can be extracted in any form at any time. Looking at forms of databases such as CD-ROMs and hard drives allow us to realize how different our thought has become. For example, most of us don’t look through each file sequentially and read each part of our computers, rather we just look for the things we want and let the rest remain. Manovich explains this phenomenon, “CD-ROMs that take the user on a tour through a museum collection. A museum becomes a database of images representing its holdings, which can be accessed in different ways–chronologically, by country, or by artist” (pg 219-220). The explanation also looks at the way we have come to interpret our information. With the coming of the new technological age, vast amounts of information have become more accessible to us, so much so that we must somehow organize the information. Although, this organization seems to be a remnant of traditional thinking where information must be searched through sequentially rather than just instantly finding the desired information. Evidence of this can even be seen in search engines such as Google. Manovich may see Google as a representation of how the database is simply a collection of information where the desired information is found instantly. Instead Google also represents a traditional method of searching, as the data is ranked, and most of us still have to look sequentially through many pages to find our desired information.

One element of how Manovich sees the new technological age is the growth of information. Traditionally, books were published and little information was added to these books and has often remained untouched over hundreds of years. But Manovich looks to the technological age as an age of continual growth, as he explains, “The open nature of the Web as a medium (Web pages are computer files that can always be edited_ means that Web sites never have to be complete; and they rarely are. They always grow” (pg 220). Not to mention this growth is often non-sequential and older material can be removed, edited, or forgotten. As the growth of the technological age has progressed, the speed at which change occurs on the Internet has become phenomenal. This relation to speed also correlates to Virilio, where the length of time is not as important as speed in this new world. Information in this age seems to be more of a montage that a sequential story, Manovich look at how Vertov’s “Man with a movie camera” represents this montage and temporality of time. He even provides of modernist example, “One is the modernist MTV montage–two-dimensional juxtaposition of visual elements designed to shock due to its impossibility of reality” (pg 229). Even if we look at many images in media, everything seems to be a montage of information. For example the common screenshot of a news channel will have the reporter, stock tickers, newsreels, time of places around the country, and weather. This bombardment of information is a common characteristic of today’s society with its high expectations on information. Ultimately, the database has become a living reality that affects our lives constantly everyday.

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Blogger Shane_Wey said...

"database" really made me evaluate the world and my life. Today is truly an information driven world. Information is the most expensive asset. People pay good money for stock specialists to inform them of stock trends. The wealthy hire nutritionalists for possessing information on how to eat healthy. With all this information, it is pertinent to organize this information so that it is accessible and searchable in the sea of information. I think the montage effect that you address is also an effect of everyone wanting to multitask and save time. Instead of just watching one screenshot of a reporter, people want to hear the news, watch the stocks, and read breaking news. It made me think of ESPN because I watch it all the time. For hours, ESPN runs a montage of highlights and scores. It is satisfying to watch because I get the most amount of organized information in the shortest amount of time.

3/19/2007 11:33 AM  

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