Turnley, Melinda. 2009. Towards a Mediological Method: A Framework for Critically Engaging
Dimensions of a Medium.
Melinda Turnley’s paper was a lot to (and harder to) digest than what I’m used to reading. She presents a thorough examination of the dimensions of media and breaks these mediums up into the following 7 categories:
In short, this is my understanding of these 7 categories.
Technological- Anything that makes the medium work. For example, the iPhone would not work without the touch screen. I believe Turnley is saying that mastering the technological components of a medium and implementing them to the best of their abilities will allow for that medium to ultimately excel.
Social - Anything that allows for the communication of an idea via the use of a particular medium. For example, I’ve just finished watching an episode of MTV’s True Life where a woman self-proclaimed as New York Giant’s girl was followed around. Her website, NYGiantsGirl.com, has allowed her to establish a persona that is viewable worldwide. This persona has gained immense buzz and controversy, where not only is Reby (or NY Giant’s girl) getting called in to do radio interviews, but she has also gained mention in articles for magazines such as Sports Illustrated. Without the website, she would have no mode of communicating her persona across a large audience, and she’d be another ordinary NY Giant’s fan.
Economic – The allowances that make a medium widespread. For example, when the first computer was made, not only was it ridiculously expensive, but it was ridiculously massive filling rooms upon rooms with just ONE computer (I’m speaking from my recollection of various books and articles, so feel free to correct me if I’ve forgotten or miss-spokenwritten). However, once it was made more economical in size, power, and price, pretty soon every middle-class household owned at least one computer. This is primarily due to the fact that it was less expensive for a manufacturer to produce one computer once the size was drastically reduced. At the same time, with the decreased size came small microships that produced much more power. The availability of a medium once it has become more efficient and economical increases in every aspect (more produced, more consumed.)
Archival- Anything that records and preserves a medium. Digital mediums have a tendency to make a better preservation than old mediums. For example, an actual photograph will disintegrate over time, but a digital photograph has the potential of lasting forever. Another example would be the world wide web which preserves information indefinitely and, sometimes, much to a person’s chagrin. Turnley points out that archival of media will inevitably reap certain consequences. Hypothetically, perhaps in your younger days you took a bunch of inappropriate pictures for a blog/site that you didn’t control or have access to editing. Well, 10 years have elapsed and you completely grew out of that stage and regret it has ever happened. Unfortunately, one’s digital footprint may follow (and haunt) a person forever.
Aesthetic- The way in which a medium is perceived. For example, color schemes, formatting, interface design, etc. Turnley points out that the standardization of aesthetics will make the medium more conventional, but doesn’t garner creativity. I don’t necessarily see this as a bad thing for things such as online journal/newspaper articles because staying true to the conventions of old media (print journals and print articles) is what will yield the most readers. However, for mediums such as digital portfolios versus print portfolios, I believe the use of unconventional aesthetics will garner wider audiences.
Subjective- Anything that has a preconceived idea for the nature of a medium. For example, a hearing aid designer will (rightfully) assume that the recipient of the aid will be hard of hearing and, thus, design for this target audience. To give another, less obvious example- chances are that the website of this manufacturer’s product will include minimal (if any) sound waves because they know their target audience is hearing impaired. Turnley says that mediums are not neutral because they target specific audiences and these audiences have specific cultural norms.
Epistemological- Any presupposition regarding the way in which ideas (information, knowledge, etc) is received via particular mediums. Various mediums can yield various reactions. For example, YouTube allows for information and knowledge to be received through videos (vlogging, documentaries, trailers, etc). Some of these videos may detrimentally affect a particular group (i.e. videos of being against peaceful coexistence between various religions and why one should be against such coexistence) but, at the same time, can empower the same group (i.e. videos of being in support of peaceful coexistence between various religions and why one should be for this coexistence).