Out With the Old, In With the New.

I’ll admit I was not thrilled about reading Kress. But I’ll also admit that I was pleasantly surprised with his unique outlook on changing mediums.

Kress begins by talking about the changes in media and the gradual loss of written literature, which put me under the impression that he was anti-image early on. I understood what I thought was his disappointment though. It’s always a shame to lose part of something that was once considered timeless. But as the case is with all mediums of communication, there is always room for improvement, or at least advancement. A world that never changed would be a very dull world, but I’m not positive Kress is against change. There was one element of Kress’ chapter that I found to be highly thought-provoking, and that was the parallel between the world told & the world shown and time & space.

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Upon reading this concept the first time around, I felt like Kress was making some strange connection between media literacy and weird Donnie Darko time travel junk. What the heck did literacy have to do with time and space? But after a few more trials of close reading, I realized what he is trying to say. Kress put into words a concept that I had never even thought of. Where images fail to breed imagination of meaning, words succeed; and where words fail to allow for imagination of order, images succeed. It was a whole new way of thinking, but I understood.

Image          Image

And with this epiphany, I realized that Kress is not condemning new media at all. Yes, he feels a sense of loss upon the weakening of books as the the primary medium for text, but I think his feeling is more bittersweet than strictly bitter. See, Kress acknowledges the benefits of books and screen. He knows they both have different things to offer, and he embraces those things. Does he perhaps prefer books over screen? It’s likely, but that’s besides the point. With change in media come certain trade offs. Kress never says that the consequences outweigh the benefits of images as a communicative medium, but he does mention the concept of trade offs. But that is to be expected, trade offs come with any change. 

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The point is, Kress is not against images as the new primary medium. Perhaps it isn’t his favorite idea, but he still recognizes all it has to bring to the table. Though he does say that images decrease room for imagination, he is talking about a specific kind of imagination. Words allow you to make your own meanings, but images don’t. When Kress said images require no imagination, he is talking about the personalized application of meaning to words. Images still allow for imagination of time line, and there is even room for interpretation. Kress’ point is not that books are good and images are bad. It is simply that mediums are changing, and images are taking over. It isn’t good or bad, it’s just a change worth mentioning.

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2 thoughts on “Out With the Old, In With the New.

  1. You had me from the Donnie Darko screenshot. I thought this was a great reaction to a dense read! When I was plowing through Kress, I kept going back and forth about what his own personal stance on the issue was. I think you nailed it! He certainly does have moments where he seems to mourn the loss of the written world, but I think that has more to do with generational differences. Books are what he grew up with and what he knows. But for us, we grew up alongside technology, allowing our generation to be much more welcoming to the changes that must shock older people.

    As a culture, we have reached the point where things are literally changing in the blink of an eye. Historically, innovations took hundreds of years to come around. Hundreds of years became decades, decades became years, and years has become days. The pace at which our culture moves is shocking. I was born in 1993, and, when I think back on common household objects from that time, I realize that many are extinct. Pay phones, landlines, dial-up, newspapers…all have come and gone. I guess it is only natural for the book to be next. It should be interesting to see how such a transition impacts our culture as a whole.

    Great post!

  2. I wholeheartedly understand your sentiment with being wary about reading the Kress article; thank goodness it wasn’t as bad as Scott led us to believe. I can’t say I agree with you standpoint that you thought he was “anti-image early on,” but I can see where certain things that Kress said would lead you to believe that. With the way I interpreted what he said, he not for or against change. I believe he was thinks it’s a “let the facts fall where they may” ideal. I really liked your connection to Donnie Darko with the part about time and space. Words breeding imagination in a way in which images cannot is almost poetic to think about; that images can cover for words. I really enjoyed, as well, how, as the blog post continued, you seemed to figure out what the real meaning in this difficult article was, so “kudos” to you. Also, I could not imagine a more fitting picture than the Spongebob “imagination” shot. Classic.

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