The question that we must face is not about the relation of biology with technology [ Current Issue Announcements Call for Reviewers Call for Submissions. Abstract Research since the early years of the 21st century consistently shows that through the years more of our time gets spent using media, that being concurrently exposed to media has become a foundational feature of everyday life, and that consuming media for most people increasingly takes place alongside producing media.
Media Life 1. In this article, we argue that an additional ontological turn should take place in the way we understand and use media. Media have become so inseparable from us that we no longer live with media, but in media. Research in countries as varied as the United States, Brazil, South Korea, The Netherlands, and Finland consistently shows how through the years more of our time gets spent using media, and how concurrent use of multiple media has become a regular feature of everyday life. With close to two billion people using internet on a regular basis and well over four billion mobile phone subscriptions in the world at the time of writing this piece , media can not just be seen as types of technology and chunks of content we pick and choose from the world around us — a view that considers media as an external agent affecting us in a myriad of ways.
If anything, today we have to recognize how the uses and appropriations of media penetrate all aspects of contemporary life, how media are not just both artefacts and contents as McLuhan envisioned , not just units consisting of queer couplings between hardware and software as Ian Bogost and Levi Bryant suggest  , not even an infrastructural combination of their material conditions, what people do with them, and how all of this shapes and is shaped by people's everyday social arrangements as proposed by Leah Lievrouw and Sonia Livingstone .
There is no external to the media in our lives. In this paper, we explore the implications of this premise. The whole of the world and our lived experience in it can and perhaps should be seen as framed by, mitigated through, and made immediate by pervasive and ubiquitous media. However, a paradox of pervasive and ubiquitous media is their increasingly invisibility; they are so embedded in our lives that they disappear, which would suggest we inevitably lose ourselves in media.
Media, in other words, make us lose ourselves. When media become both ubiquitous and invisible, we may very well be losing ourselves in our technology to the extent that it generates our lives on the basis of a specific set of rules, codes and protocols. From a perspective that aims to resolve the false dichotomy between machines cf.
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Media's Invisibility 4. They suggest this ambivalence stems from the double logic of remediation embedded in all media. On the one hand, media make themselves known to us by remixing their properties: today's phones include music players, video screens, and so on; any television show or advertisement uses conventions and formulas from previous programs and formats; and, as we have seen, people are in their daily activities concurrently exposed to multiple media.
Bolter and Grusin suggest that media work very hard to make themselves invisible. For example, there is the tendency of media artifacts to become so big they drown out everything else wall-sized TV's, such as Panasonic's fittingly titled Life Screen [ Lifescreen ] while also shrinking to near-invisible proportions computer chips as brain implants allowing people to give computer commands and play games without moving a muscle, such as the BrainGate sensor by bio-tech company Cyberkinetics .
As media become invisible, they become all-powerful. We propose that the key challenge of the digital humanities in the 21st century is, or will be, the disappearance of media. What we therefore aim for in this text is an understanding of the different ways those things taken for granted that make up our day-to-day existence have become automated, augmented and organized through media.
The human experience of space-time relationships in the course of the twentieth century, as exemplified by the increasing speed of travel and telecommunications, represents a change in people's sense of reality itself [ Harvey ]. With Harvey, we do not see people as hapless victims of this seemingly disjointed worldview. We locate the potential power of people to shape their lives and identities and produce themselves and therefore each other in media.
From a society-centric take on the role of media in everyday life, arguments developed by various authors signal an ongoing convergence of the social and material dimensions of media. Consider for instance the work on media ecology by Neil Postman and Lance Strate [ Strate ] , and on media and social theory [ Thompson ], [ Garnham ], [ Rasmussen ], [ Silverstone ], [ Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee ]. The media life perspective is not so much a synthesis of earlier approaches coming from either a medial or social point of view, but rather seeks to move beyond such categories.
Since , the Educause Center for Applied Research ECAR conducts annual surveys and interviews with thousands of undergraduates at US colleges and universities about the role of information technologies in their lives. In this abundantly mediated and progressively mobile lifestyle media are such an augmented, automated, indispensable and altogether inalienable part of one's activities, attitudes and social arrangements that they disappear — they essentially become the life that people are experiencing on a day to day basis.
Most authors of reports about people and their media scramble for concepts to label, classify, claim and tame them, as the Digital Generation, iGeneration also known as Generation Z or the Internet Generation  , Net Geners, Generation Upload as coined by a Vodafone marketing campaign in Germany  , and Generation C where C stands for Content; coined by trendwatching. Such terms are generally used for people born after the early s who grew up after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the proclaimed end of the Cold War , after the Tiananmen Square protests and subsequent massacre in China , after the release of Nelson Mandela and the end of Apartheid in South Africa , after the end of military regimes and dictatorships across Latin America Argentina, ; Brazil, ; Suriname, ; Chile, , as well as after the introduction of the World Wide Web and the digital mobile phone in Media's Creativity 9.
Much can be said about the lack of generalizable evidence that would support a notion of either discrete or durable generational difference when it comes to a life lived in media. On the other hand, it does seem that children and youths experience the world and their role in it with media functioning as a precondition. Buckingham and De Block emphasize an additional layer of media immersion at work, for example when it comes to the ongoing fusion and hybridization of local idioms and traditions with global media brands and genres.
What makes this work significant for the concerns about media life is how it reminds us of the ways in which media activities and practices can only be understood in a broad context that includes both material and spatial considerations, reflecting a nuanced take on how the social arrangements of media both stretch existing ways of doing things and making sense of the world across cultural and spatial boundaries, while at the same time functioning to articulate and demarcate local communities and identities.
Perhaps it is safe to say that the consequences and articulations of media life are more visible in the everyday lived experience of the young. Historicizing the role media play in everyday life and analyzing the remediation of old and new devices, functions, and forms consistently confirms such a caveat to many claims made in the literature. Yet we argue that the media life perspective considers such developments regardless of whether one sees continuity or change; analyses of media can take a leap of faith towards a post-historical being in order to understand people's current mediatization.
The interpenetration of media in all aspects of people's lives suggests how the boundaries one perhaps all too quickly draws between different types of media analog or digital , different modes of being public or private , and different groups of people in the center or the periphery , are, if anything, in flux. When the organizing categories and principles of life are in constant motion, uncertainty reigns. Society in the digital age has become increasingly organized around the various ways to organize and diversify the intertwined or networked processes of production and consumption.
Theorizing the way media function in our everyday life as indistinguishable from our bodies, senses and experiences begins with an awareness of media as industries casting people in roles of production and consumption and techniques governing the way people access their world through physical as well as sensory experiences.
As such, the ongoing convergence of production and consumption of media across companies, channels, genres, technologies and culture [ Jenkins ] is also reflected in the convergence of other aspects of our everyday life, for instance between self and social identities especially on social networking sites , between work and play, and due to time-space compression, the convergence of the local and the global.
If anything, the logic of media must be seen as dissolving the distinctions drawn all too easy between humans and machines, or, as Lev Manovich articulates, between culture and computers. To this one should add how cyberspace, internet, and other networked technologies are not particular to specific devices or practices anymore, as today a wide variety and ever expanding set of artifacts and what people do with them are networked. Certainly, the problematic nature of such categories has been highlighted in the past. Work in the field of media anthropology also stresses the linked and circular nature of the production and consumption of culture.
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Scholars in media studies, sociology, informatics, and geography similarly have critically articulated the categories of media production and consumption within the parameters of the capitalist and distinctly cosmopolitan project, rather than within the material practice or lived experience of how people actually use and make media. An early example of such work would be John Thompson's The Media and Modernity [ Thompson ] , where he carefully defines any form of mediated and quasi-mediated communication as produced and received in differentiated contexts that blur boundaries between space and time, as well as between public and private domains.
Wellman suggests that high speed place-to-place communication i. Our networked individualism experienced in a redactional society can thus be seen as both the consequence and cause of media life.
This does not mean there are no structures of support and social cohesion anymore, nor does it suggest that our concurrent immersion in media makes us more or less sociable. Media amplify and possibly accelerate existing social tranformations in ways that can be attributed to an improvement of our real or perceived chances for survival in a world of increasingly stretched social relations.
Seen as such, the increasingly lifelike nature of media — including the contemporary design and development of ubiquitous computing e.
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Looking at reality framed by media — from a joystick to a computer mouse, from a remote control to a motion sensing device — makes it seemingly subject to one's own experience of it. On the other hand, this individualized immersion instantly and kinetically connects people with others anywhere else, thus turning their very own societal bubbles of space into fully mediated spaces of global coexistence. Seen either way, a life in media is at once connected and isolated, requiring each and every individual to rely on their own creativity to make something out of life: not just to give it meaning, but to symbolically produce it.
The media's creativity connects to a broad and influential strand of thinking — both in academia and professional fields — regarding the increasing significance of culture and creativity in the economy at large as for example the work of Richard Florida and John Howkins attest to.
Immaterial labor also refers to a parallel process of commoditization of activities that can be roughly labeled as traditionally being part of the realm of social skills: assigning status and building reputations within specific communities of interest , maintaining and structuring social relations in teams and networks , including identity play and performance. To some extent, this explains the significance of media as benchmarks for creating and circulating meaning. Indeed, contemporary social theory is suffused with claims about our increasingly liquid, ephemeral, self-reflexive, mobile and otherwise less than stable, permanent or tangible modern times see in particular [ Bauman ], [ Bauman ], [ Bauman ].
The question is, what can be said about the kind of creativity a media life inspires — to what ends does such creativity interpellate individuals? The collaboration and participation often found in networked media attracts and challenges people to interact rather than be just consumers of reality. It is indeed a fascinating paradox that much of the media's creativity takes place within the parameters and constraints set and to some extent controlled by the same institutions that historically have set the parameters within which most people would have understood their reality: corporations and the state.
It begs the question whether people inevitably end up reproducing the system they seek to subvert, or if they can in fact tactically gain a foothold exactly because they are part of the system de Certeau, . The media life perspective would dictate that media are the ecosystem that people are a constituent part of, which includes the 'goldplating' culture of the new capitalism [ Sennett ]. But even if all user co- creation can be reduced to self-branding in the service of capitalist imperialism [ Hesmondhalgh and Toynbee ], the profit people seek is not necessarily gained without agency or resistance as Nicholas Garnham notes , nor does it solely exist in monetary terms.
The mastery of such creative notion makes debates about digital divides, the participation gap, media competence and multimedia literacies all the more crucial. Media's Selectivity According to Niklas Luhmann [ Luhmann ], social systems or institutions political, economic, scientific, and so on within society have increasingly taken seriously the way media depict them. A duality arises in that media become so integrated in the operations of social institutions, that they also acquire the status of media institutions themselves.
As a result, social interactions, whether between institutions or in society at large, take place via media. All institutions are dependent on societal representation, and media have in the last decades become increasingly indispensable as platforms for the publication of private affairs and the co-creative interpretation of reality. Making the Follow-Up easy! Buying and selling goods via the internet. Customizing your store to your brand. Strategic content creating, scheduling your social posts to be published when the right people will see them.
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