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Skip to 0 minutes and 9 secondsTechnological advancements are the driving force behind media development, and one of the inventions most acknowledged by scholars as being a major change in our lives is that of printing techniques. Before this invention, individuals jotted down their own notations; with the development of the printing press, these notations could be disseminated to broader circles. The next stage can be described as revolutionary, and that would be the digital era. Although the concept of “digital” is only a hundred years old, its impact on mankind and civilization is tremendous.

Skip to 0 minutes and 58 secondsEven though my expertise is in the humanities and not in digital technology I cannot deny the influence of the digital era; I would even say that its influence comes close to being as important as the effect of typeface print on our civilization. Digital information is stored in a binary code made of strings of zeroes and ones, and a multitude of combinations give rise to a digital system. In other words, all the diversity in our daily lives is mapped out and read using codes of 0's and 1's. This is the language of digital technology.

Skip to 1 minute and 50 secondsIt might be somewhat unappealing, but in fact, the human physiological system can be thought of as a similar system where we are built up from miniscule cell units. So let’s now think of how digital language has changed us. In the past, in order to read a book, I would go to a library. A library stores not just an extensive collection of books for loan but also research materials and rare books, items that we are unlikely to have access to at home. Likewise, art pieces are displayed in museums, and good music is performed for the masses in concert halls. Over time, specific means, methods, and spaces have been developed to best consume specific types of media.

Skip to 2 minutes and 56 secondsIn order to enjoy a good music performance, the space must have good acoustics. To enjoy a book, you need good lighting. Conversely, darker conditions are necessary if one wishes to be fully engrossed in a movie. The main idea is, a particular environment is necessary to bring out the best traits of a given type of content, one that matches the characteristics of the media. In the digital age, we are reduced to a binary coding of 0, 1, 0, 1, and yet a very different phenomenon now occurs.

Skip to 3 minutes and 41 secondsJust think of the ubiquitous USB we carry nowadays: It is not even the size of our palms, but this little hard disk can carry 1 Giga Bytes of data. That might even be the size of a small book collection. You can think of your USB as your very own small library. The amount of text files that can go onto an external hard drive is equivalent to the quantity of books that would fill a three-story building. Not only that, but the music that in the past had to be listened to in a music room can now be converted to a binary code and be saved in a digital file format that we now know all too well, the mp3.

Skip to 4 minutes and 40 secondsTo us, the hard drive can be a music room, an art exhibition, or a library. Thanks to this amazing change, we now have access to what used to be hidden or rare. On the other hand, much of what we experience becomes meaningless as the quantity of stimuli on any given day becomes too much for us to handle.

Skip to 5 minutes and 10 secondsThe concept of transmedia is this simple: Access to various types of media content is now possible through the one integrated medium, and the computer is now able to integrate and recycle all kinds of digital signaling. In all honesty, some devices in the past operated with this level integration of information. One example is the map. Even though we can’t see the actual scene when looking over a map, we can understand the landscape and note, “Ah, there is a hill there, and a bit beyond that, a river emerges, and then a wide plain.” However, the reduction of information to that state results in losses as well.

Skip to 6 minutes and 4 secondsThe map’s information about topography and geography is valuable, but it fails to capture the feel of the breeze and sun, the colors of the foliage, and the peace of the plains. The map is but an abbreviation of that information. The great loss of information in sending and receiving content is one of the disadvantages of the media of the past. We had thought that what was delivered to us as the message recipients represented the original content in its entirely, but this was not necessarily the case. The digital age has challenged this notion with its strings of binary code? the longer the code the closer to reality the content is.

Skip to 7 minutes and 4 secondsThe difference between analog and digital is the letter’s ability to approximate reality through infinite code options. It stands to say that digital language is the background that enabled the first possible incarnation of transmedia, the main factor contributing to this transformation.  

DEVELOPMENT OF THE DIGITAL LANGUAGE

Although the concept of “digital” is only a hundred years old, its impact on mankind and civilization is tremendous. In this video I will discuss the influence of the digital era; I would even say that its influence comes close to being as important as the effect of typeface print on our civilization.

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This video is from the free online course:

Transmedia Storytelling

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)

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