Refresh: On the Temporalities of Digital Media ‘Re’s

Coleman, Rebecca. 2020. Refresh: On the Temporalities of Digital Media ‘Re’s. Media Theory, 4(2), pp. 55-84. [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This paper explores the often unremarkable and unremarked upon activity of the refreshing of digital media streams and feeds, paying particular attention to its temporalities. It draws on original empirical research with UK based digital media professionals, mindfulness practitioners and school students to highlight the ways in which the temporalities of refreshing are embodied and experienced. To do this, it considers what theorisations of the prefix ‘re’ might offer, arguing that the ‘re’ indicates a non-linear temporality that is, at once, creating anew, going back, being behind or after, as well as repeating, again and again. Building on these explanations of ‘the re’, the paper argues that the refresh be understood in terms of a present temporality, which is both now and ongoing, and that can be constantly moving, stuck or stilled, and skipped or reset. The paper seeks to understand these specific embodied experiences of the refresh in terms of what Raymond Williams calls a structure of feeling: a ‘temporal present’ that ‘gives the sense of a generation or period’. Taking up Williams’ explication of a structure of feeling in the 1970s through the relatively new experience of the medium of broadcast television, the paper posits that the present temporality of refreshing might be key to the composition of a contemporary structure of feeling.

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1 November 2020Accepted
21 December 2020Published

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Date Deposited:

08 Jan 2021 16:05

Last Modified:

08 Jan 2021 16:05

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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