Review: Lev Manovich Chapter 5 ” The Forms”

This weeks assignment we were to read chapter 5 of  Lev Manovich’s The Language of New Media. In this chapter called “The Forms” Manovich discusses the database. When referencing computer science, “database is defined as a structured collection of data.” Information is stored in the database allowing it to be a quick search engine(218).

Within these databases, we have “database logic”  and “database complex.” Manovich notes that different types of databases use different approaches when organizing data. A few examples of these are “hierarchical, network, relational, and object-oriented (p 218).

Databases became more approachable in the 1990’s (p 221). It was fall of 1998 when a huge company  – which I am sure we are all familiar with – had “three millions books” in its database. According to Manovich, database and narrative are natural enemies. They both compete for human culture to create a “right to make meaning out of the world (p 225).” He elaborates on the fact that within new media we see a unifying or merger of database and narrative into new forms.

These new ideas consist of a variety of games which gives navigable space a new genres and cultural form. Examples of these games are Doom and Myst. Manovich goes to identify the number of ways these two games are different such as Doom is “fast paced” and Myst is “slow  and etc (p 244)” But despite the differences they are the same in one aspect,”both are spatial journeys. Navigation through 3-D space is an essential, if not the key, component of the game play (245).”

It is important to realize that navigable space can be used to represent both physical spaces and abstract information spaces. Manovich also stresses the fact that it has emerged as an important paradigm in human-computer interfaced (p 249).

After explaining two key forms of new media – database and navigable space – Manovich goes on to note the schemes that can be established between “modernity and supermodernity (p 284)”  Manovich “emphasizes the continuities between the new media and the old, the interplay between historical repetition and innovations (p 285).”


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