Computational Media is an amalgam of the synergy between media and technology and understanding how the affordances of the medium and the technology affect the reach, reception, and assimilation of a particular media message. Conversely, we also learn how media content and how it is consumed can affect the adoption and use of technology.
The Canadian communication theorist Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “The medium is the message.” He proposed that the communication medium itself should be one of the foci of study. For centuries, diverse human cultures have perceived the value of what is drawn or carved on stone, etched in metal, or written on paper differently. While messages on paper are mostly ephemeral, what is carved or written in metal or stone caries the inherent value of something permanent, not intended to be changed. We etch in metal or carve on stone the names of those we have lost; Egyptian stone carvings and the Lascaux cave paints allow us to have a glance at bygone times.
However, post-it notes are seldom intended to persist more than a couple of weeks. In the past half-century, another medium has become ubiquitous in our lives. Computationally mediated screens (both large and small) have become a main source of information and means for communication. Large electronic billboards, smartwatches, virtual and augmented reality owe their popularization to the evolution and dissemination of computationally mediated screens. One challenge we face today is to understand what value we, as humans, should ascribe to such mediums that are able to change messages with refresh rates of up to hundreds of times per second (If it changes so fast, how can it be true? How can we trust it?).