| Media were classified above in terms of four generations. They could also be classified in terms of the number of dimensions they embody. The real world has four dimensions - three spatial (length, width, depth) and one temporal (time). Our first generation of media - speech - retains all those four dimensions. So also do the media of dance and drama, where we choose to use our whole bodies to show our home movies. Our second generation - print - reduces this rich four-dimensional world to one dimension - length, though the reader introduces a second dimension of time by interpreting the message over time as s/he passes along the line of letters. Painting and photography, also of this second generation where information is stored outside the body, are two-dimensional - length and width. Once again, the viewer can add a third dimension of depth by reading depth cues. The creator can add the third dimension of time by moving from photography to film. Our third generation, in which information is transmitted outside the body, has one dimension (time) in its telephone incarnation and three dimensions (length, width, time) in its television incarnation. Our fourth generation (multimedia and internet) where information is both stored and transmitted outside the body retains the same number of dimensions when it is used to simulate those previous generations. Thus, desktop publishing, where it simulates second-generation print, is one-dimensional; and desktop video production, where it simulates third-generation video, is three-dimensional. |
When it is being itself (that is, seeking its own unique niche within the ecology of media) we could consider it as seeking a return to the four dimensions of the real world. I once introduced a conference on Three-Dimensional Media Technology (3DMT 1989) by pointing out that we invited only three-dimensional speakers and served them three-dimensional food and drink in three-dimensional glasses. The point being, of course, that the real world is three-dimensional. The obvious next step in the progression toward a more accurate simulation of the mind movie for film would therefore involve filling in this "missing" depth dimension.
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