Media Taxonomy Models

The following assignment from W. J. T. Mitchell’s Theories of Media course yielded a number of diagrams and reflections, some of which may be viewed by following the links below. An alternate spiraling ribbon interface, as well as the introduction by W. J. T. Mitchell, Eduardo de Almeida, and Rebecca Reynolds, are also available.

Begin the exercise by creating a list of media, and then try to construct a taxonomic table to organize the list into classes and sub-classes. For instance, if language is a medium, then speech, alphabetic writing, hieroglyphics, pictographs, gesture-language, and printing might be thought of as different types of linguistic expression.

The taxonomy might take the form of a hierarchical tree, with very general classes at the top, and more specific types at the bottom. One could also try the spread-sheet approach, and simply construct two lists, one of different media, and the other of criteria for differentiating one medium from another (sensory distinctions such as the visual, auditory, and tactile; physical differences such as motion or stillness, material support, and dimensionality; social/cultural status (high-low, art/non-art) technical reproducibility, author function, degree of reciprocity between sender and receiver; characteristic codes (digital/analog; indexical/iconic/symbolic). You may want to use a legend (along with symbols) or notes (like footnotes) to append comments to specific parts of your taxonomy. Finally, explain your rationale for your taxonomy (choices of examples, organizational structure, etc), and answer the question, “Why taxonomize?”

You are free to use the Media Taxonomy Models provided you give credit to the authors; information on citing this resource can be viewed here. Please also note that Macromedia Flash Player is required to properly view this material. Click here to download this free plugin.

Navigating the Interface
Three red boxes will appear in the center of the screen:
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[>] toggles pan/selection mode
[pan mode] allows you to move layout by clicking on area and dragging
[selection mode] allows you to magnify particular area
[*] indicate areas where comments or images will appear with mouse-over; an arrow will point in the direction of the comment if the comment window is outside the viewing frame

2004
Peter Adams, Taxonomy of Media
James Adelman, Taxonomy of Media
Sean Anderson, Taxonomy of Media
Lauren Beitler, “Taxonomizing Media: The MediaZoo”
Myong Chin, “Taxonomy of Media: A Book”
Kasia Houlihan, “Interlocked Circles of the Senses: A New Taxonomy of Media”
Dan Knox, “Non-Evolutionary Media Tree Taxonomy”
Starr Marcello, Taxonomy of Media
Gabriel McArthur, Taxonomy of Media
Harper Montgomery, “Taxonomy for a Modern Art Museum”
Justin Nevin, Taxonomy of Media
Thibault Raoult, “Media Taxonomy Refractions”
Jason Rissman, Taxonomy of Media
Jonathan Roberts, “A Taxonomy of Failed Taxonomies”
George Sabo, Taxonomy of Media
Dinesh Sabu, Taxonomy of Media
Phil Sandifer, “Dead Media Taxonomy”
Jen Schadlick, Taxonomy of Media
Lelia Scheaua, Taxonomy of Media
Hillary Schroeder, Taxonomy of Media
Laura Veit, Taxonomy of Media
Philip Veith, Taxonomy of Media
Adam Weg, Taxonomy of Media
David Whitehead, Taxonomy of Media
Alexana Wolf, Taxonomy of Media
Michelle Yacht, Taxonomy of Media

2003

Sarah Best, Taxonomy of Media
Venus Bivar, Taxonomy of Media
Doris Bravo, Taxonomy of Media
Diana Brendcheidt, Taxonomy of Media
Anna Brenner, Taxonomy of Media
Justin Cassidy, Taxonomy of Media
Danielle Choi, Taxonomy of Media
Dan Clinton, Taxonomy of Media
Ali Geiger, Taxonomy of Media
Miriam Hess, Taxonomy of Media
Chad Hines, Taxonomy of Media
Brandon Hopkins, Taxonomy of Media
Kay Perdue, Taxonomy of Media
Elisabeth Kilpatrick, Taxonomy of Media
Diane Konopka, Taxonomy of Media
Ling Ma, Taxonomy of Media
Andrew Mall, Taxonomy of Media
Margo Miller, Taxonomy of Media
Albert Nunez, Taxonomy of Media
Kim O’Connor, Taxonomy of Media
Lynn Olejniczak, Taxonomy of Media
Stephen Park, Taxonomy of Media
Kay Perdue, Taxonomy of Media
Kathleen Pickett, “Taxonomy of Distance in Media Reception”
Aaron Rester, Taxonomy of Media
Jennifer Roberts, Taxonomy of Media
Jessica Santone, Taxonomy of Media
Leila Wilson, Taxonomy of Media
Deborah Wolfson, Taxonomy of Media
Kirsten Zinchuk, “Mapping Our Tools: An Initial Landscape of the Forms and Fields of Expression and Perception”