MP3: A Hundred-Year History of an 19-Year-Old Format in Under an Hour
There are now more MP3s in circulation than all other forms of recorded audio combined. Through a series of episodes, Jonathan Sterne offers a history of the MP3 format, and uses it to point to a longer, general history of compression in the 20th century. Our most basic ideas of what it means to hear and listen, as well as our ideas of information, are tied to the problems and progress of 20th century media. In its everyday combination of sound, information, and infrastructure, the history of the MP3 offers a radically different story about the meaning of hearing and the origins of digital media.
Professor Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Art History & Communication Studies and in the History and Philosophy of Science program at McGill University. He is author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Duke, 2003); MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke, 2012); and numerous articles on media, technologies, and the politics of culture. He also is editor of The Sound Studies Reader (Routledge, 2012).