Five Principles of New Media

See page 27 in The Language of New Media

The analysis offered in The Language of New Media is built around Five Principles of New Media. In introducing these Five Principles, Lev Manovich proposes that:

“the last three principles are dependent on the first two. This is not dissimilar to axiomatic logic, in which certain axioms are taken as starting points and further theorems are proved on their basis.”

The use of the word “axiomatic” here implies that the first two principles are self-evident observations, and the last three principles are consequences that follow directly from the interaction of the first two; so “principle” is here used to refer to two distinct categories of logical assertions: assumptions and conclusions.

After establishing his analytical methodology as such, Manovich states in the following sentence: “Not every new media object obeys these principles.” If it is the case that not every new media object obeys these principles, then the relationship of the principles to new media is incompatible with, and therefore quite dissimilar to, axiomatic logic.  The approach Manovich proposes is perhaps more appropriately described as reductionist.

It is the very essence of axiomatic logic that it can be used to uniquely and definitively distinguish and identify logical forms. Just as one never finds a rooster that is not a chicken nor a triangle with more or less than three sides, one ought not reach conclusions using axiomatic logic that conflict with one’s axioms.

Furthermore, the formulations of the Five Principles themselves are deeply problematic, often involving contradictory implications, and at times relying upon the deductive conclusions of incompatible philosophies for evidence.

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