As coined in the writings of Marshall McLuhan , Metamedia Referred to new relationships entre form and content in the development of new technologies and new media . [1] McLuhan’s concept describes the totalizing effect of media environments.

In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the term was taken up by writers like Douglas Rushkoff and Lev Manovich . Contemporary metamedia, such as at Stanford, has been expanded to describe, “a short circuit between the academy , the art studio and information science exploring media and their archaeological materiality.” [2] Metamedia Utilizes new media and Focuses are working across traditional fields of study, melding everything from improvisational theater and performance art to agile, adaptive software development and smart mobs .


The 1964 hypermedia was coined a year later by a programmer to refer to file systems of multimedia , the term metamedia was coined in 1964, referring to theoretical effects of mass media. McLuhan, like his teacher Harold Innis , an earlier theorist of communication theory , saw communication as central to social systems.

More recent distinctions between old and new media have meant that metamedia becomes used to describe modernity and art more than systems.

As an academic field of study

Stanford University Humanities Lab and MIT currently run research labs investigating metamedia. [2] [2] [3] The MIT labels mission is to provide a flexible online environment for creating and sharing rich media documents for learning on core humanities subjects. [4] It is led by Kurt Fendt (co-Principal Investigator and Manager of the Metamedia project) and Henry Jenkins . [5]

Stanford’s lab is principally facilitated by Michael Shanks with other collaborators, including Howard Rheingold and Fred Turner (academic) . In its mission statement, it describes itself as a “creative studio and laboratory space for experimenting and taking risks … a democratic and collaborative assembly of archaeologists, anthropologists, classicists, communication experts, new media practitioners, performance artists, sociologists, software engineers , Technoscientists, and anyone else who wants to join. ” [6] A recent project is Life Squared (aka Life to the Second Power), an animated archive of the work of artist Lynn Hershman in the online world Second Life . Life Squared is an endeavor of the Presence Project, a live metamedia performance art project within the Metamedia lab. [7]

See also

  • meta
  • metatheory
  • Metagraphy


  1. Jump up^ Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964) Marshall McLuhan
  2. ^ Jump up to:a b “” . Metamedia: a collaborative at Stanford University . Affiliated with Stanford Humanities Lab . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .
  3. Jump up^ “” . Metamedia: transforming humanities education at MIT . MIT . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .
  4. Jump up^ “What is Metamedia?” . . MIT . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .
  5. Jump up^ Vandre, Megan. “Humanities Go Digital: Innovative multimedia programs give students new ways to study languages, literature, and the arts.” . Technology Review . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .
  6. Jump up^ “” . Mission statement . Metamedia at Stanford . Retrieved 2008-05-20 .
  7. Jump up^ Life SquaredThe Presence Project

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