Thursday, January 13, 2011

Week 1 - New Media & Transdisciplinarity - Sunil A.

Transdisciplinarity in this new media environment is a research method that crosses different disciplines. With traditional media meshing with communication technology, the internet opens up more nodes and networks to interact with. This interaction is critical to information sharing and knowledge production for any field.

With the amount of information available increasing because of the web, researchers have to be open to engaging with other disciplines. Tools that allow for tagging digital documents and media opens up the possibility of tapping into a new field that may support an individuals or groups knowledge production.

Combining so many areas of expertise (ex. Teachers, designers, etc) will present challenges when publishing information. Each discipline has its own history and standards of publishing. If knowledge can be produced among different people from different areas, a common approach to publishing has to be established. Not to say that one has to trump that other. Perhaps new methods and standards of publishing altogether can be developed to reflect a transdisciplinary research approach.

Important things to consider when publishing would be the history of each discipline and how it has published articles in the past. What journals tend to publish their work and what standards are in place. New media also has the capabilities of further manipulation. For example, digital media can be personalized and re-coded in the background to reflect what the user wants and/or needs.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons


  1. I agree that new methods of publishing and acceptance/adaptation by the research communities of how new research and new knowledge is created is becoming a critical component in transdiciplinary research. Nowotny,Scott and Gibbons (2003) refer to " Mode 2" research as transdiciplinary research. The transdiciplinary research is as much about the knowledge creation in the process of doing research while combining different worldviews and methodologies as it is about the results of the research study. The co-creation of knowledge between disciplines while problem solving a process issue or a research question is as important as the results. Research becomes contextual- research results need to be looked at in their context(disciplines) to see if there is application in your environment.
    This view of research is very much in alignment with Quality Improvement methodology. New knowledge is created in the process of using a systematic methodology to change or problem solve an issue in the work place using team members from across disciplines. The new knowledge created may work really well in the context of that team/population/process and the 'lessons learned" while trialing the new processes can be used by others in their home environment although the actual process or changes may not work exactly in the same in a new context. In the publishing world, many healthcare providers attempt to access ethics approval while doing quality improvement work to be published in 'accepted academic journals." Publication can help careers! Knowledge created by doing and organizational or individual behavior change as a result does not 'qualify' as publishable research as it is not testing a hypothesis or even exploring a question. So QI and applied research appears to be Mode 2 research, contextual and can be disseminated while doing getting the results of the research to the people that can use it much faster than the
    journal' scholarly publication cycle.

  2. Mode 2 research does appear to result in quicker dissemination of information, which could provide many benefits to consumers of the information. On the other hand, the traditional process of peer review is being "democratized" such that the information consumer must now play a greater role in assessing the credibility of the research. It is critical that users of this information understand that the context of the source research may not be completely relevant to their own circumstances. As long as this understanding is present, then new modes of dissemination should be beneficial.

  3. Thanks for your post Sunil, and thanks Carolyn and Glenn for commenting.

    Speaking of "academic" publishing and peer review, have you heard of open peer review? Take a look at this example from Kathleen Fitzpatrick and her recent publication, Planned Obsolescence: Publishing, Technology, and the Future of the Academy:

    One of the bloggers (Noah Wardrip Fruin) at Grand Text Auto wrote a book and encouraged blog readers to publicly comment on his "experiment." Take a look at this blog-based peer review:

  4. About transliteracy – McLuhan also pointed out, as Jess does in the seed questions, “old media rarely die,” or in McLuhan’s terms, that new media always carry the old media with them.

    What is different is that nobody can really see the whole picture (from the Transliteracy Research Group blog),

    “In my view, transliteracy is a bit like the story about the blind men and the elephant, where the elephant = massive changes to the way we understand the dynamics of communication media. Everyone encounters individual aspects of the beast and applies their own meaning, whether the topic is talking face-to-face, on TV, on Skype on your iPhone, or via an aboriginal campfire story.” (

    This made me think about the other thing McLuhan says – about how the speed of newer forms of media creates a blur – and people stop seeing the particular, and see only patterns. As part of this blur – and in keeping with the McLuhanesque vein, Manovich also says that with the speed of adoption – comes invisibility (p. 13), and unconscious media effects. Jenkins speaks to this point by noting it’s important to “understand the underlying logic shaping our current moment of media in transition.”

    There is obviously a paradox here – perception and pattern recognition, but then there’s also the opportunity to more fully experience the parts you can ‘feel ‘. Jenkins calls the new economy the attention economy of the internet .

    The picture isn’t all utopian obviously - some people have greater literacy and greater access - can feel more parts of the elephant than others. And the dangers of creating further divides (as Haraway discusses) - asks for easy interaction and broad access.

    So what is the quality of the experience? As a lit major – and with an ongoing interest in narrative and communication, I was really interested in Jess’s question about how this interaction differs “vis-à-vis narrative”. Plot becomes meaningless – the story is a work in progress, or as Jess also pointed out in quoting Marie-Laure Ryan, “becoming a character in a story is the ultimate narrative experience.” I guess ‘becoming’ is the key word here.

    I was also intrigued by Wesch’s youtube video where he articulates the impact of separating form and content which disables control, especially in the context of Jenkins’ point about “convergence being shaped top-down by the decisions being made by massive media conglomerates who have controlling interest across all possible media systems and who enjoy the power to insure that their content circulates globally.”

    There is big tension here – because he also goes on to talk about the bottom up effect – and I was reminded of our first spring institute when we saw the NFB documentary, RIP: A remix manifesto ( that follows the story of how this is effecting the music industry.

    Henry Jenkins, “Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape”
    Lev Manovich, “New Media from Borges to HTML,”
    Henry Jenkins, “Eight Traits of the New Media Landscape”
    Michael Wesch, “A Vision of Students Today,”
    Donna Haraway, “A Cyborg Manifesto”

  5. I agree that "old media rarely die". In the New Media from Borges to HTML article, Lev Manovich writes, "Some authors have suggested that every modern media and telecommunication technology passes through its "new media stage". Television, photography and telephones were once "new media". These mediums are considered old media but they continue to deliver messages. It is important to remember that these mediums are still important and effective mediums. McLuhan is referring to this in his comment of that new media always carry the old media with them. One day the web/internet will be considered "old media" but it will still be important and an effective medium.
    Lev Manovich, “New Media from Borges to HTML,”.