«Agrippa» and Other Hybrids in the Beginnings of Digital Culture
Chapter 1: Introduction: Milestones Between Matter And Digits
Introduction: Milestones between Matter and Digits
Extending the perception that all things material are being digitized, this book’s primary claim is that all that is digital (also) materializes.1 And derived from this claim are the facts that lack of bandwidth, overlapping temporalities, poorly enforced copyright control and expensive and inaccessible cultural products all become key issues when defining a materially minded approach to digital studies.2 The other side of digital culture is the machines operating mathematical abstractions; machines that compute. Looking into what machines are and how they work and change is an unavoidable need when trying to understand contemporary digital culture.
Empires were built by standards. As were large scale modern nation-state based cultures. Transnational, global, or cosmopolitan cultures (pick the perspective of your choice), as well. Though not overtly evident, the technical fact of standardization underlies most major cultural changes and digital technologies are no exception. Digital culture is based on myriad of standards, from the inch size of now obsolete floppy disks to the voltage charges running Internet protocols. What is less obvious is that these standards emerge and settle through a series of complex negotiations and disputes where technical and social aspects intertwine.
Our contemporary hyperindustrial culture is experienced through standardized products of cultural industries still impregnated by Romantic dictums of originality and personality. (Surprisingly enough, in our industrialized culture, standards have very bad press.) In the late sixties, Italian semiotician Umberto Eco identified a dialectics...
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