Modalities, plural for Modal, is a relational term of media pertaining to its' presentation, form, or mode. Basically, modalities are modes; a manner, way, or method of doing.
When Relating To Media
Modalities of media, however vague they can sometimes be, are always constructed from a particular person's point of view. Two people could paint or draw the same thing. Differences in background, ethnicity, childhood experiences, sociological, religious, or other differences in the individuals could allow for the works to appear and function in completely different ways, or in other words, their modes would differ. In Lev Manovich's The Language of New Media, he described modularity, Numerical Representation, Automation, Variability, and Cultural Transcoding as the five fundamental principles of new media.
Evolution of Modalities
Through time the modalities of different media change to suit the needs of human beings. This is natural but interesting because we are constantly adopting new methods of media to use to our advantage and in turn, help ourselves evolve as a race. There are many examples already presented in history its self to explain this concept. People used to record history on cave walls. These days we have dozens of information gathering resources such as textbooks, newspapers, television, and the internet. People used to only own large house phones attached to the wall. Through time, the telephone became much smaller and much more portable. Now we can attach it to our ear. The evolution of media through time in order to suit our needs is the basic concept of modality of media. There is also the evolution of media through advertising and design, it is no longer completely hand rendered, now it is mostly done by computer.
The transcoding of media bring elements of traditional and digital media together. The ways in which we can deconstruct media information and reconstruct it into a new form of media is how modality takes effect. Lev Manovich explains how both traditional media and digital media can be broken down into separate principles. Separate concepts and principles of traditional media are being substituted by digital recreations. We can take these different principles and reform them to create new digital formats. This is a good example of modality. When reconstructing these media forms from different principle, we can then mold this new media to fit our needs and natural desires.
Traditional vs Digital Media
There have always been advances in media since the creation of language and communication. People have learned to read and write, and share their thoughts through written words and pictures. The incredible advances in technology and knowledge led to the creation traditional media such as radio, television, and books. These forms of media have allowed people to transform their thoughts and publish them to the world. With the creation of computers and the internet, these published idea's can be stored in an unlimited amount of space and be seen by people across the world simultaneously. Television clips, book exerts and radio broadcast can be stored in a digital format, accessible by everyone connected to the internet to view, purchase and store on their computers. The internet gives you the choice in what kind of media you would like to view and has many interactive variables.
One major factor which separates digital media from traditional, is the users growing ability to control the media. While traditional forms such as television and books offer the option of turning them on or off, or having your own opinions about what’s being conveyed, digital media allows people to easily publish their opinions directly to the media. Blogs and wikis are easy examples of users having and using that control – changing that media (for better or worse).
Television and radio are acquiring more traits of the digital form via fairly recent innovations in satellite television, digital cable, and XM radio. Messages broadcasted through picture and sound by television and radio are now packed with options and features – which aim to enhance the users experience by adding customizability, and giving the user expanded choice on what they see and hear. These media are on an evolutionary continuum. They have to be – and this is due to the incredible rate of expansion of the internet. Television and radio are making their digital transitions for:
As the internet continues to grow in popularity and functionality, it phases out the need for other forms of media due to its conquering, and equally adapting nature.