John Durham Peters on Elemental Media
The most important thing about a medium is not its content, but its form: the various infrastructures that enable it to exist, the way it reorganizes its surrounding environment, the presuppositions that it causes us to make. These are the features of media that communications professor, John Durham Peters, wants us to take note of in his book The Marvelous Clouds: Toward a Philosophy of Elemental Media. “Social media,” for example, allows anyone to be a producer of public content. The infrastructures of online storage capacity and easy uploading enable the now ubiquitous “comment sections” in which thoughts that had once been privately edited or suppressed become public gossip, unfiltered vitriols, and banal updates. When we pay attention to the elements of our media, we learn much about how they can reinforce or change many of the philosophical assumptions of our cultures.
This week’s MHA uncut features an interview with John Durham Peters on his book The Marvelous Clouds (University of Chicago Press, 2015). Login now to access this new release on the perennial and elemental functions of “new media.”
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