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Visual Aesthetics

Utilitarianism & New Media

A response to  Toward An Aesthetics of Transition by Henry Jenkins and David Thorburn

John Stuart Mill would agree with the arguments presented by David Thorburn and Hanry Jenkins. He would affirm the assertion of media interdependence being fostered by continual transitions of media. The article shuns the apocalyptic attitude towards technological advancement and focuses on concrete historical examples to highlight resulting good from such transition. From this examination, Thorburn and Jenkins conclude a general shift in perspective is necessary when examining the evolution of media.

Specifically, Thorburn and point out that theatre, movies, and television were not the death of books. Rather, focus should be placed on how the creation of new media positively affects older media. The article states, “…to focus exclusively on competition or tension between media systems may impair our recognition of significant hybrid or collaborative forms that often emerge during times of media transition,”
(Thorburn, Jenkins).

From my perspective, two great advantages are created with every form of new media. Content, which may have originally been brilliant, may now reach a larger audience. I will always believe in the vital importance of original content. Without great storytelling, production of new media means little. This may allow for greater entertainment, political awareness, etc. Also, emerging forms of media create economic gain. As Thorburn and Jenkins point out, book sales have now become dependent on movie sales and vice versa. The Harry Potter franchise is one example of economic explosion deriving from continuity between various forms of media.

It’s clever that this article begins with a quote from John Stuart Mill. Known as a utilitarian, it seems only fitting that he would see emerging media as means to create the “greatest common good”. In the future I foresee a continuous “age of transition”, and I believe the transitions of media are to be embraced, with limited fear, if we remember the vitality of good content.


About lindseyhuston

I'm a strategic thinker with an eye for design. A recent graduate of Wofford College, my liberal arts background in Philosophy and English provided me with extensive writing and analytical skills. I’m adding to my skill set at Elon University learning as an MA in Interactive Media student. Teachable, driven, with an affinity towards networking, I hope to utilize my skills in a career in advertising and interactive design.


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