Reading diary and questions about “Theory of Present”

At the beginning, Lev Manovich proposed a lot of question,  “Where were the theoreticians when….?”

These questions show us another aspect of design, theory, progresses, or we can say change: it’s unpredictable character. Although we are always trying to predict the future or the result of some action or design.

“I aim to describe and understand the logic driving the development of the language of new media. (I am not claiming that there is a single language of new media. I use language as an umbrella term to refer to a number of various conventions used by designers of new media objects to organize data and structure the user’s  experience.) It is attempting to extend this parallel a little further and speculate whether this new language is already drawing closer to acquiring its final and stable form…”

What is “this parallel”? Is it between the “new language of the computer media”, which the elements of previous cultural form shaping it were still clearly visible and recognizable, and a ”coherent language”? If yes, why do we want or need to draw it further? Isn’t it good to let them melt together?

“What follows is an attempt at both a record and a theory of the present.”

That is true, we always record the past, and theorize the past experience. The present here, I am not sure, but believe that it is what has already happened before the theory made.


  1. houssian

    “Where were the theoreticians when…?”
    I lol’d at that question in the book. I mean, back in 1994 or even ’96 who knew if all this would really take off. When the market went to hell in ’01 some nay-sayers thought the web as we knew/know it would cease to exist. What do I know, maybe it still will, but honestly the theoreticians aren’t going to bother working on something if they don’t see that thing as possible to study because it is changing so fast, or may not be around, or is because how does one study interaction culture, the material with no qualities (or the qualities are very hard to pin down). It almost seems like 10 years ago it would have been a waste of time, at the end of the afternoon on tuesday I thought perhaps it was a waste of time my head hurt so bad.
    Amazingly we are here, now and trying to do just that to some extent, and reading Lev’s fine book which tries to do it.
    Personally I wish us luck, seems very daunting, but exciting nonetheless.

  2. thismarty

    I agree, mingxian. To add to your excellent observations, in a previous life, I was part of a culture that saw interactive design as a form of traditional Design (note the capital “D”), enhanced by the addition of a new element: interactivity. Just in case you didn’t already know it, traditional Design actually *has* a language, and has for some time, consisting of various formalized “elements” and principles. The elements are things like point, line and shape while the principals are things like balance, contrast and unity. Together, they form the core visual language used by Designers in fields like Fashion, Industrial and Graphic Deisgn. The reason I mention this is that while melting interactive design into their design languages worked for these folks, if we stopped there, we’d miss the opportunity to develop it as an entirely new kind of design as well.

  3. mingxian

    Maybe it just like that if we do a homework in a hurry, maybe it is not as good as we can make, right?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s