Lit 80, Fall 2013

Chat about media archaeology

October 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Xin Zhang in Uncategorized - (0 Comments)

Last Friday we had a chat with two scholars about media archaeology. This chat was really inspiring and was also the first chat I had with scholars who do not have major in natural sciences. In the chat, the two scholars showed some examples about media archaeology, explained the research methods used in media archaeology and the relations between media archaeology and culture. What really impressed me was the discussion about whether the carriers should be treated as a part of media.

Just as the theme of the article “Geology of Media” in The Atlantic, these two scholars believe that media is not only data. The media is made of the combination of data and the carriers. They gave us some examples such as the study of book design and research the location of factory to show how to study media archaeology by the study of the information carriers. I agree with them that the carriers were the part of  media in old age before the coming of digital age. Of course the material of a book shows the information a author want to tell the readers. But the situation is not the same as digital age is converting everything into digital numbers. When we are reading digital books, the materials are always the computer screen. As for the information carriers, it does not matter whether data were stored in CDs or in hard drives or in clouds. Because data are just 1’s and 0’s. It is meaningless now to study media while caring about the carriers in digital age because you are not computer scientists or physicists who are working to develop better information carriers. However, I am not denying that it is very useful to study the media before digital age by study of information carriers. I am just believing that the carriers is becoming less and less important with everything being digitalized.

In the end, I would like to share a interesting video Garbage doesn’t lie ( which has some similarity with  the geology of media. I think that should be called “garbage archaeology”.