Retropost #567 (24 de octubre de 2005): Time Out of Joint
Many theorists since Marshall McLuhan have emphasized the connections between the medium and the message: the constitutive importance of the medium is the message of this line of reasoning. A new medium absorbs many of the functions of the old media, it enhances some of them, it adds new functions, and, if anything is lost, no sweat: the old media are still there, both in their original form and in their new avatars through what has been called "remediation" or "intermediality" – the ability of new media to reproduce and contain old media as one more ability, the way new interfaces of computers are able to reproduce the layout and design of obsolete systems. Some media, of course, are better than others at doing certain things. Print can be reproduced on TV, but there is a limited role for that experiment. The digital medium, however, has provided the basis for multimediality: it is such a flexible medium that it can be used, with the appropriate hardware and interfaces, to contain, manipulate and combine in increasingly elaborate and user-friendly ways all previous media: voice, text, images and video, together with all the semiotic sub-systems which may be codified and represented by these (such as cultural subsystems of gestures, languages, fashions, etc.). Every day we learn of some novelty in the treatment and manipulation of digital information: blogs, tags, TIVo, the video iPod, the special-purpose interface configurations known as widgets, web search on cell phones, etc.
Now media have never been static. The printing press of the late 17th century was not the same as Gutenberg’s printing press, the techniques for the manufacture of images were a revolution in themselves. But the present-day explosive rate in the development of cybermedia since the advent of the computer, and especially of the personal computer and the cell phone clearly has no equivalent in ealier centuries as to its rate of personal usability, and of invention and obsolescence. If novelties create a peculiar double time in which the old and the new coexist, a flood of novelties creates a peculiar no-time, or postmodern time, in which all historical periods seem to be superposed chaotically one next to the other in a jumble, or a jumble sale of cultural modes. The increasing ability to travel and the recent influx of migrant population in Spain also contributes to this sense of a time out of joint, in which the old is partly displaced by the new, but still remains in the new times, albeit somewhat disoriented as to its proper place and function.
(From "Linkterature" ... in the making)