Convolution and Information Theory

In mathematics and electrical engineering, convolution is “a mathematical operator that takes two functions f and g and produces a third function that is typically viewed as a modified version of one of the original functions.” Commonly, this operation is performed by taking two transformations of the same wavefunction as the operands for the process, which then analyzes the wavefunction into a new one. This process is extremely useful for analyzing linear-time systems.

Walter Benjamin, a philosopher from the early 20th century, took this concept and applied it analogously to non-mathematical cases in reality, creating several concepts about which to analyze arcades in Paris. To aid in doing this, he created a multitude of convolutes about which to focus and organize his thoughts and research.

Of these, one interesting convolute is the one he has entitled N: On the Theory of Knowledge, Theory of Progress. As the media of our society is built entirely on the dissemination and manipulation of knowledge, this is of particular note and relevance to the concept of the transfer of knowledge through the media. In the spirit of Benjamin’s research, the following is a short entry following his form.


“Over the last decade, the major firms and cultural institutions that have dominated media and information industries in the U.S. and globally have been challenged by people adopting new technologies to intervene and participate in mainstream media culture.”
Lievrouw, Leah A. “Participatory Design”. Ninth conference on Participatory design: Expanding boundaries in design. New York: ACM, 2006.

It seems that the “new media” is gaining legitimacy quickly. This has been aided by numerous factors: more journalistic practices being weaved within the agile framework provided by new media reporting, providing for more accountability and thus credibility within society, and increasing feedback from blogs and new media back into mainstream media – for instance, Keith Olbermann regularly quotes the Daily Kos on his program. This increased impact of new media culture and the Internet has led to a radical reshaping of how knowledge is disseminated: user-generated content is rapidly gaining mindshare, and citizen journalism is reshaping ethics and accountability. This has a profound effect on the progress of our culture.
May 2007

(Conversely:)
As competition for audience revenues intensifies in the newly competitive media environment, programmers are hoping to harness the potential of the Internet. The present study explores potential online media service access in light of motivational factors, existing media use level, home communication technology infrastructure and demographic attributes. Findings indicate that perceived gratification expectation dimensions were strong predictors of likely online media service use. Although traditional media use was largely perceived as irrelevant to online media content access, online service was seen as a functional supplement to traditional media instead of a complement or displacement mechanism. An existing communication technology cluster in the home was not found to be predictive of likely online service adoption, as it might not have been deemed “functionally interdependent” of the online service. The younger babyboomers and post-babyboomers fit the profile of a likely online media service adopter, as characterized by their age and educational level.
Lin, Carolyn A. “Perceived gratifications of online media service use among potential users”. Telematics and Informatics. New York: Pergamon Press, 2002.

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