bob cotton’s mediainspiratorium app

Wanna be a creative? Bob Cotton’s mediainspiratorium is the place to start. Download the iPad  app free at the appstore.

Just What is it that Makes Today’s Media So Different, so Appealing?



(thanks Richard Hamilton)

The great philosopher Arthur Koestler wrote his The Act of Creation in 1964 – I read it in my first year at Art College. He analyses the creative ‘process’ and concludes by saying that new things often emerge from the cross-referencing of two previously disparate and unconnected ideas or frames of reference. And in new media design this cross-referencing is even more important as a strategy for innovation, because the new media are a product themselves of the convergence of several previously quite separate sectors – notably telecommunications, publishing, broadcasting and computing. And my Bob Cotton’s mediainspiratorium i-Pad app is precisely about this convergence – and the innovations that have emerged in the last few decades. This app is also about the pre-digital media – electronic media, photographic media, print-media and the imaging technologies, motion-picture technologies, and information-presentation arts that have emerged over the last two-hundred years, and have often preceded, predicted or formally influenced the digital media world we are immersed within in the 21st century.

Getting ahead in the ‘Creative Industries’ and new media innovation isn’t just about the latest coding innovations, the latest microprocessor technology, or about keeping up with how real people use new media. It’s also about how you become aware of – and perhaps inspired by – the exciting innovations in the arts, the technologies and the style of the great thinkers, artists, inventors, developers, coders, directors, producers and innovators of the recent past.

This is what my mediainspiratorium is for: helping you to continue learning about the new media and its manifold impact on our world – learning about the ideas that drive these developments in networks, coding, computing and content-creation – learning about the great artists, inventors and innovators who created it, and looking at examples that have impressed and inspired me over a life-time as a new media evangelist and practitioner. You can download it from the appstore from August 2019.  hope you enjoy it.


Download a guide to using Bob Cotton’s mediainspiratorium & the rationale for the app here:

User-guide & information for Bob Cotton’s mediainspiratorium

Where the idea for this app came from: I suppose one of the first ‘media innovations’ that really inspired me was Stewart Brand’s brilliant Whole Earth Catalog:


This impressed me. It was like a visual-info – brain-feast of ideas (and products!). I loved it. It chimed with the media philosopher Marshall McLuhan’s insights in his Explorations periodical:


And these two insights  were compounded with the aspiration of George Macuinas – the founder of the Fluxus group of avant garde artists and musicians, for an intermedia magazine:


And even since I went to art college in the early 1960s, innovations in the arts and media have proliferated…with serious Television satire, plays and documentaries, New Wave Cinema, Fluxus, Jazz-Poetry, The Counter Culture, Cable TV, Satellite communications, Concrete Poetry, Pop Art, Conceptual Art, Happenings, Multi-screen, Minimalist Music, Concrete Poetry, Performance, Colour Xerox, Cool Jazz, Folk Revival, British Blues, Pop Festivals, Colour TV, CDs and CDROMs, Installations, Events, Computer Games, Synthesisers, Satellite TV, Macs and PCs, DVDs, email, Laptops, the WWW, Blogs, Mobile Phones, iPods, MMORPGs, Smart-phones, iPads,Broadband, Virtual Worlds, Social Media, WiFi, Streaming Video,VR, AR, Robotics, and AI too!


Just why were Concrete Poetry, Lettrism and Jazz-Poetry coincident with hypertext?

And most of these electronic  and digital  innovations were rooted in analog ancestors – in the practices and methods of artists, designers, craftsmen and practitioners in older media. Digital operations like Cut and Paste stemmed from graphic design and reprographics; compositing from early photography; social media from cartes-de-visite, printed postcards, art postcards, the telephone; special effects from stage magicians and experimental film-making, multiscreen from magic lanterns,  cinema and a/v shows in the Sixties… Others sprang fully fledged as ‘computer-media’: videogames, simulations, geographical Information systems, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and computer-graphics. Mediainspiratorium allows you to trace the roots and origins of new media – from the first ’new’ media – photography – to augmented reality, AI and Robotics.


And, do you know what? Bob Cotton’s mediainspiratorium is the very FIRST integrated history of these new media. This is stuff you need to know if you’re a student, or even if you are a practitioner, designer, content creator, developer, coder, or just interested in the phenomenal recent history of the arts and media

Sample entries…


There are over 1200 entries (only 144 of them pictured here!) – each linked to full screen graphic, caption, commentary and links to other relevant items.

This is the app for students, designers, content creators, developers, directors – for all those involved in the creative industries.


New media history is a story you can create yourself – linking together your own interpretation of the back-story of 21st century media – discovering new ideas, new techniques, new strategies, new business models, new forms of communication, expression and self-discovery.







Wanna be a creative? mediainspiratorium is the place to start. Download the free  iPad  app at the appstore.


This is ‘guided contextual learning‘ from a media historian, lecturer, researcher and creative director – Professor Bob Cotton guides you through the innovations in arts and media that are the back-story of today’s media arts.


We have built an artificial neural network into our app – this provides another level of personalised guidance – links tailored to your browsing history, and to the temporal context


This is a tool for self-learning – learn at your own pace, follow the links to explore the the first intermedia or cross-disciplinary history of art and media


mediainspiratorium is a non-linear narrative with millions of story combinations – explore them at your own  pace. Use the favourites tab to list stuff you like, use this as a guide for further study.

Review by Paul Harper (university lecturer) of an early beta-edition of mediainspiratorium:

“I quickly found myself totally engaged and happily immersed in following links and cross-references”

“Having opened the inspiratorium and selected an initial page, It took me a brief few moments to work out how to navigate back to the home page. This is more of a reflection on my ineptitude than anything. But, having got the hang of that, I quickly found myself totally engaged and happily immersed in following links and cross-references. Apart from a few typos the content is clear, informative, thoughtful and thought provoking. The navigation tools help you to explore different areas of the index, but part of the pleasure and, from a research point of view, richness of the experience comes from the idiosyncratic nature of the connections and some of the personal, anecdotal entries. Whilst there is a large degree of systematic organisation, there are some surprising and even eccentric links between pages. The unexpected and apparent randomness of these links seems to be one of the strengths of the inspiratorium as a tool – I thoroughly enjoyed the sense of wandering. This does raise some questions however. If it is to be expanded by input from users, how does this characteristic work? The subjective content, which enriches the more formal information has a distinctive voice. How is this aspect maintained and valued if the project becomes a more widely sourced encyclopaedia of agreed knowledge? Could it go from being a quirky but coherent cultural history/guide/tool, to being a babble of conflicting voices, opinions, responses…?”