MP3: From Infrastructure for Format and Back Again Banner

The lecture reflected on the hundred-year history of the world's most common format for recorded audio. Understanding the historical meaning of the MP3 format entails rethinking the place of digital technologies in the larger universe of twentieth-century communication history, from hearing research conducted by the telephone industry in the 1910s, through the mid-century development of perceptual coding (the technology underlying the MP3), to the format's promiscuous social life since the mid 1990s.

Jonathan Sterne is Professor and James McGill Chair in Culture and Technology in the Department of Art History and Communication Studies at McGill University.  He is author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format (2012), The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (2003); and numerous articles on media, technologies and the politics of culture.  He is also editor of The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012).  His new projects consider instruments and instrumentalities; histories of signal processing; and the intersections of disability, technology and perception.

Ravi Vasudevan is Professor at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015
CSDS Seminar Room