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Media Protocols - Reading the Mobile Perseus Open Access


Other title
Perseus Digital Library
Watson Walk
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Li, Tianyi
Supervisor and department
Harvey Quamen (Humanities Computing)
Examining committee member and department
Maureen Engel (Humanities Computing)
Geoffrey Rockwell (Philosophy)
Humanities Computing

Date accepted
Graduation date
2017-11:Fall 2017
Master of Arts
Degree level
For more than fifty years, Media Studies has been a growing field of scholarship. The argument of this thesis builds upon debates about whether the nature of media and technology depends on the content they deliver. Media used to be considered merely tools that conveyed information. The situation has been changing during the past half-century. Many scholars have begun to argue that media themselves have meanings and characteristics. In the thesis I borrow Lisa Gitelman’s ideas about “protocols” to study how media work, especially how protocols work on e-reading devices. The aims of the study were to explain the various types of media protocols and how protocols affect both users and technologies. Reading has been a significant interaction between people and the media. Now e-reading has taken a large part of our life. E-reading behaviours are not merely generated from previous reading habits, however, but are also affected by protocols borrowed from earlier generations of digital devices. By analyzing how protocols affect e-reading, I look specifically at two case studies: mobile Perseus and Watson Walk. One is an interface redesign project; the other is a literary walk app. The two apps provide new yet different ways of interactions in e-reading affected by protocols. I conclude that e-readers are easy to use because they borrow protocols from older technologies and devices. For example, users who were familiar with PDAs and early tablets quickly adapted to e-readers and smartphones. My argument is that well-known protocols made that transition possible. This is how protocols continue to effect media, and the ways we use our devices.
This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for the purpose of private, scholarly or scientific research. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
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