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Digital Orientations

Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice


Shaun Moores

Might it be possible to rearticulate the term digital in digital media, so that it refers at least as much to the deft movements or orientations of hands and fingers (of digits) as it does to the new media technologies themselves? What if digital media are understood as manual media?

Has the academic field of media studies tended to focus too much on media, and not enough on the practices and experiences of daily living that help to give media their meaningfulness? What if media researchers were to pay more attention to knowledge-in-movement or to matters of orientation and habitation, and rather less to those of symbolic representation and cognitive interpretation?

Digital Orientations is a bold call for non-media-centric media studies (and ultimately for everyday-life studies) with a non-representational theoretical emphasis. The author engages here with a broad range of work from across the humanities and social sciences, drawing on Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy, Ingold’s anthropology, the geographies of Massey, Seamon and Thrift, and the sociologies of Bourdieu, Sudnow and Urry.

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Chapter 1. Non-Media-Centric Media Studies and Non-Representational Theories of Practice


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Why is this book called Digital Orientations?

The main title of my book is intended to be a playful (and to some extent a provocative) one, but it has a serious purpose. Let me try to explain.

Nowadays in media studies, and in broader public discourses concerning media, digital is quite a commonly used word. It is not only the first term in the title of this book but also in the name of the series, ‘Digital Formations’, in which my book follows a large number of earlier volumes, many of them featuring the word in their titles. Media studies academics and students, along with other groups ranging from lay media practitioners to professionals in the media industry, can be heard talking about digital media, by which they tend to mean those new media technologies that are associated with the development of the internet and contemporary mobile communication systems. Of course, in addition, it is important to note how, in a period of rapid technological change and media convergence, the older, more established media such as newspapers, radio and television are often available in digital forms too. Indeed, some readers of the text that I am currently writing will no doubt be accessing it via an e-book format, rather than having a printed and bound copy of the more traditional sort. ← 1 | 2 →

In part here, I...

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