← Back to Articles

Media After Software


While earlier reproduction technologies such as woodblock printing, moveable type printing, lithography, and photography stored media in ways accessible to bare senses, the eletronic media technologies of the late 19th century abandoned these formats in favor of an electrical signal. Simultaneously, they also introduced a fundamentally new dimension of media – interface (i.e. the ways to represent and control the signal). And this in its turn changes how media functions – its “properties” were no longer solely contained in the data but were now also depend on the interfaces provided by technology manufacturers.

The shift to digital data and media software a hundred years later extends this principle further. With all types of data now encoded as sets of numbers, they can only be efficiently accessed by users via software applications. As a result, the “properties" of digital media (how it can be edited, shared, and analyzed) are now defined by the particular software as opposed to solely being contained in the actual content (i.e., digital files).

Article  2012