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Jonathan Sterne
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MP3: The Meaning of a Format

3.79  ·  Rating Details ·  68 Ratings  ·  8 Reviews
MP3: The Meaning of a Format recounts 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 ...more
Hardcover, 360 pages
Published July 17th 2012 by Duke University Press Books (first published July 2nd 2012)
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May 11, 2012 Anna rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Won on Goodreads in May 2012.

A few pages into the book and I can already tell that this book will be terrible to read. The topic is all over the place. One paragraph is about one thing and then the next is talking about something completely different without much of a transfer.

The small print and very long paragraphs don't help it any but that may be due to it being an uncorrected proof. Usually in technical books the jargon is the stumbling point in the writing and reading. Amazingly the jarg
Sep 11, 2012 Elizabeth rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Though I went into this book expecting it to be something quite different, I really enjoyed the way that Sterne constructed the history of MP3s by looking WAY back into the early history of auditory technologies. Moreover, I think his theoretical intervention--the idea that privileging format rather than material when studying media--is an important one that comes at exactly the right time. Overall, his is a thorough and often entertaining account of the various parties and circumstances that go ...more
Kevin Krein
Aug 18, 2012 Kevin Krein rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
coming off of reading r.kelly's autobiography right before opening this, the shift in.....reading/comprehension levels was difficult. an interesting book that tracks the technology of the mp3 way back to the early days of the telephone industry and how they have become the most widely used audio format, even though most of the time, they sound terrible.
This is one of the best music/sound/media books I have read. I recommend it to everyone interested in the history of sound recording and the MP3. Definitely not just for academics (but not, of course, an easy read).
Duke Press
“Rigorous and quietly philosophical, MP3 situates this world-conquering format in a broader context than the familiar stories of college kids downloading wild and the death of the recording industry. . . . Sterne’s fascination with the MP3 and its possibilities yields a book that is, really, a history of auditory culture’s startling attempts to beam sound across great distances. . . . Sterne’s MP3 is an important work in various academic fields, but his probing questions about the future of digi ...more
This was a pretty boring book. Though there is a ton of detail and history of the MP3 and the general evolution of digital audio, it still seems like a surface level analysis. Though Stearne describes this work as a genealogy, it lacks the depth I would expect. It's no revelation these days to say that certain ideologies and corporate/capital interests influence the way things are produced in the world. What is severely lacking in this book is any sort of analysis of how the MP3 or digital audio ...more
William Anderson
Oct 08, 2015 William Anderson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a journey. Overall Mp3 may come off a bit dry of a read. The author is clearly an academic, bu mixed in if you pay attention is a decent amount of wit, and clearly a deep understanding of the current cultural climate. Sterne writes from a point of understanding acknowledging privilege within the history of mp3.

This book is also thorough and deep tangenting at times to stories about figures related, but giving a wholistically insightful history and cultural exploration of the mp3 f
Mar 21, 2012 GONZA rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Hard to read and hard to understand.

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“If there is such a thing as media theory, there should also be format theory. Writers have too often collapsed discussions of format into their analyses of what is important about a given medium. Format denotes a whole range of decisions that affect the look, feel, experience, and workings of a medium. It” 0 likes
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