Automation vs. Individuality (Nina Bulling)

Automation vs. Individuality
From Principles of New Media by Lev Manovich
Manovich explains the key differences of old and new media by exploring five principles. One of those principles caught my attention – automation. We live in a country where individualism is highly praised, yet people are fairly similar and try to conform within the social norms. What makes a person stand out from the rest of the people? Special talents, intelligence, and creativity are a few things that can make a person emerge.
Social conformity and the absence of individualism can also be found in the media. New media takes the individuality away because a large portion of operations involved in media creation are highly automated. Computers have templates and simple algorithms which push us toward the direction it is providing for us rather than letting us figure out our own as “human intentionality [is] removed from the creative process, at least in part.” Of course, one still has the option to create something from scratch because there are always new things to discover and explore but the reality is that most people don’t have the ability to or don’t want to take the time to come up with their own ideas. Instead, they just go with an easy, quick solution. Nowadays, time is precious and we are taught to use it wisely and productively which the new media is well aware of. Creativity seems to be on the decline because it is difficult to compete with the automation of new media. However, people are highly innovative when it comes to developing new things within that field which allows for new advances.
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2 thoughts on “Automation vs. Individuality (Nina Bulling)

  1. Your premise that this is diametrically opposed to individuality, nay representative of this conflict, seems flawed. In the context of Manovich’s essay, human intentionality does connote a sense of agency (or in this care, its lack thereof), but situates it as something not required in every step of creation and application in new media. As such, it offers “quick solutions” (modularity, algorithms, &c.) as a near morphological means to communicate within the standardized framework necessary for generating and interacting with new media. The removal of human intentionality in this case is about context & medium. Rather than restricting expression, it creates the ability to do so. Similar to the breaking down, categorizing & compartmentalizing ideas, objects, &c., it creates a commensurable structure for otherwise incommensurable things. In this sense, your depiction of individuality seems somewhat paradoxical as it forgets that these ideas can be referenced to these frameworks of understanding and made to appear largely like imitation or anecdotes within a data set.

  2. The automation vs. individuality conflict can swing both ways in this instance. Nina makes a very good point in that as computers become a larger part in our lives, and analog or natural data becomes programmable using algorithms with pre-determined outcomes, people are encouraged to do the bare minimum simply because they can. While this has become a prevalent issue in some areas, I don’t think that this is true most cases. jaycublee points out that many of the “quick solution” algorithms and programs are actually used to buoy creativity and individualistic potential. It is now possible to share concepts, designs, and personality using this digital framework in unprecedented efficiency.

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