Digital Studies 101

A common resource for Digital Studies at UMW.

Weird Internet Stuff


To call any aesthetics “new” is, on the one hand, to assert an arbitrarily diachronic axiology onto cultural phenomenon. On the other hand, the phrase does provide a convenient shorthand for calling attention to certain, digitally-inflected patterns that give shape to everyday life. One popular phrase defines the New Aesthetic as the “eruption of the digital into the physical”, and it can best be explained through examples. In a recently re-blogged post, the author describes how Google+’s “AutoAwesome” algorithm created a photographic moment in history by combining favorable aspects from multiple images. An automated, digital process has created a reference to a moment that didn’t exist. The point isn’t that this is a bad thing, necessarily, but that that “new” moment now shapes how the participants in that event remember that event. This kind of influence happens all the time in many more obvious or subtle ways, but it’s a good example of the new aesthetic in action.


  • Learn about the history and uses of the term “new aesthetic”
  • Learn about Tumblr’s role as a platform that helps this term and others like it develop
  • Evaluate the current state and continuing evolution of the term


Suggested Tasks

  • Read and explore the history of the new aesthetic and its related terms
  • Consider: Is the new aesthetic still a meaningful and relevant term? Who gets to decide what makes something an example of a “new aesthetic”? Is there an alternative terminology available?
  • Create a Tumblr blog (individually or as a group) to curate and comment on material related to you inquiry. For example, blog and reblog material you think represents a new aesthetic, or find some critical inroad into or against the term.

Slack Channel: new-aesthetic

Post navigation