Reading 7: Manovitch

Manovich L; (2001) “Cultural Interfaces” in Manovich L. The Language of New Media, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press, pp 69 – 88

For this post I am going to focus on cultural interfaces and how they relate to design.

Manovitch defines human-computer-cultural interfaces (HCI) as the means that we now access culture. That is, when we stopped using computers just for work and started to use them to access cultural data (web, CDs, games and other media/cultural objects. Manovitch was writing before Facebook (2004), YouTube (2005), Twitter (2006), and concurrently to the release of iTunes (2001). But these monoliths of modern media reinforce the concept that we now access most of our cultural data through computers and pocket computers. Most of which are permanently connected to the internet, and the case of phones, we take with us everywhere.

That we access so much data through phones has implications for how these media companies design for the web. Gone is the clutter of the late 90s and the 2000s (except for Facebook – which is a hideous, awful website). Webpages are responsive to the device with which you view them, and are often cookie-cutter and out of the box (sorry, I needed to get my cliché on).

This responsiveness of websites is due to variation in screen resolution and aspect ratios, but because we view websites (and apps) in BOTH portrait and landscape, whereas previously we would have viewed cultural data as EITHER landscape (cinema, computer monitors, TV etc) or portrait (books, magazines). However, we still view most digitised cultural data through rectangles. Although this might finally change with new VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) technologies.