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New Media from Borges to HTML


Institutions of modern culture that are responsible for selecting what makes it into the canon of our cultural memory and what is left behind are always behind the times. It may take a few decades or even longer for a new field which is making an important contribution to modern culture to “make it” into museums, books and other official registers of cultural memory. In general, our official cultural histories tend to privilege art (understood in a romantic sense as individual products an individual artists) over mass industrial culture. For instance, while modern graphical and industrial designers do have some level of cultural visibility, their names, with the exception of a few contemporary celebrity designers such as Bruce Mau and [Philip Stark are generally not as known as the names of fine artists or fiction writers. Some examples of key contemporary fields that so far have not been given heir due are music videos, cinematography, set design, and industrial design. But no cultural field so far remained more unrecognized than computer science and, in particular, its specific branch of human-computer interaction, or HCI (also called human-computer interface design, or HCI).

It is time that we treat the people who have articulated fundamental ideas of human-computer interaction as the major modern artists. Not only they invented new ways to represent any data (and thus, by default, all data which has to do with “culture,” i.e. the human experience in the world and the symbolic representations of this experience) but they have also radically redefined our interactions with all of old culture. As a window of a Web browser comes to supplement cinema screen, a museum space, a CD player, a book, and a library, the new situation manifest itself: all culture, past and present, is being filtered through a computer, with its particular human-computer interface. Human-computer interface comes to act as a new form through which all older forms of cultural production are being mediated.

Article  2001