For other uses see Wikipedia: Database.
The term database, as defined by the online Meriam-Webster dictionary, is usually a large collection of data organized especially for rapid search and retrieval (as by a computer). The expanded definition in terms of New Media is roughly the same, but the objects may vary in form, content, and resolution, and might be available beforehand as well as well as on demand. Examples of these objects might be photos, videos, or recordings of sound.
Database in Computer Science
A database and the information that it contains, can be organized in several different models in the computer science sense of the definition:
- Hierarchical Model- Desktop computers use this model. It has a treelike structure and has menu-based interactivity.
- Network Model- This lattice structure uses records and sets to organize data.
- Relational Model- This is the most common model. It is typically mathematical and uses rows and columns of data.
- Object-oriented Model- Object databases store objects instead of data. The objects consist of attributes and/or methods. This is what we see frequently in new media.
Database as a Cultural Form in New Media
In his book “The Language of New Media,” Lev Manovich states that “as a cultural form, the database represents the world as a list of items” and we refuse to order that list (p. 225). A database is nonlinear and can be taken out of order based on the user’s choosing. The user can access the database with operations such as view, search, and navigate. The database “becomes the center of the creative process in the computer age” (p.227). There are two components to this discussion: the data structure and the algorithm . The data structure is made up of the database (i.e. CD-ROM, web page, etc.). The New Media narratives (i.e. hypernarritives or interactive narratives) are products of the data structures and algorithms. In relation to New Media, the database many times becomes the “paint” to the painter.
Some common examples of databases in terms of New Media are:
- Web page – A web page might contain photos, which come from a database. A web page also exists among other web pages in the World Wide Web, which is one large database.
- CD-ROM – A CD-ROM is a portable database of information that can be accessed in a non-linear fashion. An example is a multimedia encyclopedia cd-rom.
- DVD – A DVD is a database of cinematic information in a random access format.
- Virtual Tours- A virtual tour given online allows the user to access a database of images, sound, and video stored by the site.