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Conditions of Mediation

Phenomenological Perspectives on Media

Tim Markham and Scott Rodgers

Phenomenology has become one of the most important philosophical traditions underpinning recent theory and research on new media, whether or not the word is used explicitly. Conditions of Mediation brings together, for the first time in a single publication, the diversity of phenomenological media research—from social platforms and wearable media to diasporic identity formation and the ethics of consumer technologies.

The new orthodoxy in media studies emphasizes the experience of media—whether as forms, texts, technics or protocols—marking a departure from traditional approaches preoccupied with media content or its structural contexts. But phenomenologically informed approaches go beyond merely asking what people do with media. They ask a more profound question: what constitutes the conditions of mediated experience in the first place?

Beginning with an accessible introduction, this book invites readers to explore a wide range of phenomenological perspectives on media via two critical dialogues involving key thinkers alongside a series of theoretically sophisticated and empirically grounded chapters. In so doing, interdisciplinary media studies is brought into conversation with the work of philosophers such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and Maurice Merleau-Ponty, as well as phenomenologically-inspired thinkers such as Erving Goffman, Pierre Bourdieu, Tim Ingold, Henri Lefebvre, Friedrich Kittler, Marshall McLuhan and Bernard Stiegler.

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Discussion

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Tim Markham: I’d like to thank all three of our speakers for excellent presentations, very stimulating, thought provoking, and I’m sure generative of more questions than we can possibly discuss here. But, we do have some time for discussions, and like in the previous session, we’d like to begin by asking our speakers if they have any questions for their fellow speakers.

Nick Couldry: Could you in nontechnical terms define “the stream”? Because it sometimes sounded like a technical term coming out of computational science, that have a very complex meaning … other times it sounded more straightforwardly phenomenological, that there’s some sort of, perhaps algorithmically based slice through all the things going on in a computer which you slice on a timeline. So a whole series of the same type of thing going on along a timeline and the question is how, what’s the same type of thing?

David Berry: I might give two definitions, in a technical register, a stream is an infinite list ordered by time of items. In terms of a phenomenological register, I think it’s a kind of processual way of presenting information or experiencing information as a flow.

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