Chronicling the vernacular and the middlebrow in post-digital culture.



March 27, 2020
Frederik Lesage

We are pleased to announce that after a long process of humming and hawing about what we needed for this project website we were able to hire a team of crackerjack designers to initiate a process of exploration and development to create a newly designed website!

Thanks to the excellent work by Jordyn Taylor and Celia Pankhurst this new design was up and running in no time. Jordyn is a freelance communication designer working in Vancouver. You can find her website here: Celia is based out of Victoria and her website is here:

We are very lucky for all of their help with the shift to the new platform.

Stay tuned for more posts and updates about all of our ongoing projects.


March 24, 2020
Frederik Lesage
Photoshop, Technical Communication

As part of our ongoing collaboration with the Digital Humanities Innovation Lab, we had the opportunity to update the wonderful work we had initially accomplished on creating an exhaustive bibliography of informational and instructional publications about Adobe Photoshop published in English between 1991 and the end of 2015.

The original bibliographic research was based mainly on the database WorldCat (see earlier blog post about bibliographies). We used the key world “photoshop” and the specific time window she was interested in (between January 1991 and January 2016). To proceed with the research, she used the “Advanced research” option to specify English as the only language and printed books as format. Every single title given back by the database was then opened to double check that it was appropriate (there was no way to exclude multi-software publications for example). It was then saved on Zotero folders. The limitation of this original research is that it does not cover unique ISBNs (for example, there may have been multiple runs of some of the titles or additional editions such as “Pro” or “Gold”). By tracking unique ISBNs, we would be able to get a better sense of how many manuals were published rather than just the number of unique titles.

In this updated and technically more sophisticated version of the research, we collected all of the publications references including those editions or runs (based on unique ISBNs). After meeting with DHIL, we realised it would be possible to use certain APIs to access databases of references that would include this information. We then created as extensive and as exhaustive a bibliography of all English-language software instruction manuals that deal with Photoshop published between 1991 and the end of 2015. After cleaning up the data we ended up with 6207 unique ISBNs.

Here is a quick rundown of the information categories collected for each reference to build the bibliography (note, Item type should be limited to “book” and language to “English”:

Item type: Book






# of pages: *optional*

Language: English


Here a bar graph illustrating what we got in terms of results:


February 1, 2018
Frederik Lesage
Biography, Event, Lesage

Very excited to be collaborating with Simon Natale of Loughborough University on this great Special Issue for Convergence! Here’s the full CFP:

“Rethinking the distinction between old and new media”

Special Issue of Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies

Guest editors: Frederik Lesage (Simon Fraser University, Canada) and Simone Natale (Loughborough University, UK)

Expected date of publication: August 2019

Since at least the early 1990s with the publication of groundbreaking works such as Manovich’s The Language of New Media, the rise of digital and online media into every facet of our lives has been conceptualized through distinctions between “new” and “old” media. Yet, scholars have recently started to criticize such concepts, arguing that they are inappropriate to describe media change and that they do not help improve our understanding of the relationship between different media in contemporary societies. Approaches to the biography and social life of media have examined how definitions of oldness and newness are attributed to technologies and artefacts throughout their lifetime, providing an interpretative model to rethink processes such as convergence, media encounters, and the transformations that media technologies and practices experience throughout time.

This special issue will further advance these reflections. It aims to illuminate places, cases, and contexts where distinctions between old and new media break down, and to propose alternative theoretical frameworks that redefine media change and the interaction between different media. Papers are invited that interrogate how changing definitions of old and new media inform the trajectory of specific media as well as their interrelations, moving away from rigid conceptions of oldness and newness to emphasise, instead, the persistent changes that characterise our relationship with media objects and technologies.

Potential topics

The editors welcome contributions that explore questions such as:

  • How can we rethink media change beyond the old/new media and the analogue/digital media distinctions?
  • How can approaches to the biographies and social life of media contribute to the redefinition of approaches to “old” and “new” media?
  • How and in which contexts are specific media technologies and artefacts attributed the qualities of oldness and/or newness?
  • To what extent do definitions of old and new media change throughout time?
  • How do emotions such as nostalgia, enthusiasm for the new, etc. inform our definitions and perceptions of oldness and newness in regard with media?
  • What is the role of narratives and storytelling in these processes?
  • To what extent are newness and oldness employed as rhetorical tropes by specific groups and individuals to animate particular visions of technological change?
  • To what extent does the marketing and promotion of specific media products and technologies draw from representations of novelty and/or oldness?
  • What do we mean when we consider the potential “death” of media such as print books, cinema, or television?
  • Which research methods can be used to study media change and the encounter between different media technologies and practices throughout time?

Deadline for abstracts: 31th May 2018

Please send a 500-word abstract and a 100-word bio to the guest editors: and

Authors of accepted abstracts will be invited to send full contributions by 31st October 2018 CON/Rethinking_the_distinction_between_old_and_new_media.pdf