WEB_2: The Database by Lev Manovich

Reply to this post by Monday with your responses to the Manovich reading.

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3 thoughts on “WEB_2: The Database by Lev Manovich

  1. It’s like the mega load of culture browsing! It’s an extremely interesting project that Manovich is heading up. I was a little confused at first as to what the whole point of the project was, because it seems to me like “turning the cultural information into knowledge” is basically what the internet as a whole is. But it’s interesting that there will now be one database that holds all the creative commons information that is culturally relevant. It’s also pretty badass that he gets to work with this super computer.

    I think the other projects that Tufts and UVA are doing are extremely interesting as well, not as relevant to us, but interesting.

  2. It is intriguing to consider the world at Manovich does, through two types of information: databases and algorithms, collections and narratives.

    He says that both are competing for the same space in our culture, and are natural enemies because of this. Every Web page is a database (according to Manovich) because it carries a list of links to other pages or sites. I hadn’t considered databases in such a broad fashion before, but this logic seems not unfounded. While narratives communicate to us in a linear fashion, Web pages carry only chunks of information that can be moved, duplicated, or changed at any time without affecting our perception of that page. We don’t sense the absence of information like we would in a novel or film.

    However, I’m not certain that I agree that these are competing ideas. Each simply allows us to assimilate information in a different fashion. For example, if we know exactly the line in a film we’re looking for, we’re not going to start from the beginning and watch the entire thing. Obviously we’d skip to the correct scene, and perhaps this doesn’t exactly pertain to Manovich’s argument, but it is a different way of viewing it.

  3. I remember when I was given my first computer. It was a Macintosh Performa, and one CD that I remember was a lot like the “virtual museum” Manovich describes. The CD was an encyclopedia about dinosaurs, and it included a glossary, illustrated time lines, and a verbal tour guide. The CD gave me a good idea of what prehistoric times might have been like. I think this CD could be the database version for a narrative-focused movie. In movies like Jurassic Park or Land Before Time, the intention is definitely not to inform people about dinosaurs, but to entertain an audience with characters and a developing plot.

    The idea behind narratives and databases reminded me of Jung’s idea of collective unconscious. Old myths and images have been moving around from one culture to another, either being influenced, or taking the idea and renaming it. Different cultures may have some shared elements that exist in Jung’s idea of a shared database of archetypes. Story telling allowed information to organically change over time. An online database has the flexibility to change like a spoken story, but with more control.

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