March 24th, 2011

Have Some Reggaeton With Your MP3

Sorta blows my mind that someone would upload something like this. Sorta. (Available for download too!)

Don Omar Ft. Daddy Yankee – Miss Independent (OFFICIAL PREVIEW) By Jannick. ! by ReggaetonCaleta1

In an edutaining essay published 5 years ago (prelude to a book) media scholar Jonathan Sterne examines the MP3 as a “cultural artifact” with its own particular, embedded “philosophy of audition” and “praxeology of listening.” After explaining the psychoacoustic tricks that MP3 employs to (relatively inaudibly) shrink large files, Sterne contends that, contrary to what you might fancy, the MP3 actually “plays its listener” by mimicking — and hence partly preempting — “the embodied and unconscious dimensions of human perception in the noisy, mixed-media environments of everyday life.”

As such, Sterne jokes (sorta), the MP3 puts the listener on a “sonic austerity program.”

The example above, an almost exaggerated embodiment of the aesthetics of making music mobile on proprietary platforms, no doubt already strikes us as an “artifact” in the archaeological sense (thanks to better bandwidth, the death of DRM, hi-qual darknets, more liberal leaking practices, etc). That should be evidence enough, perhaps, for us to examine our present predicament and reflect on why and when we favor portability over fidelity. Perhaps.

file under: treble culture, mp3 as cultural artifact, platform politricks


I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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