Metamedium concepts as common practices

One of the most mind boggling aspects of studying the history of computing and networking is to realize how the concepts we discuss and with which we live today were thought of so long ago, before any of the technologies could be conceived as such. The fact that ideas about what could be done with computers, and ideas about what can be done with media, are abstract enough that they were thought of so long ago proves why they translate into so many possible actions. Defining computers as metamedia, Alan Kay explains this means their content is “a wide range of already-existing and not-yet-invented media” (Manovich, 2012, p.44). The possibilities are open-ended because the level of abstraction at which the media is treated allows for creativity to take different forms, but this of course will depend on other factors.
As Manovich explores in his study of “media after software,” that is, of how the use of software changed the way media are thought of, created, treated, shared, today, the fact that the computer evolved as a metamedium — allowing for the simulation of previous media but also for the creation of new media — was not a coincidence or pre-determined path. Creators seeked for this type of development over the years, as users interacted with these systems individually, but also collectively as networking with others and sharing and co-creating became increasingly possible. In writing his book, Manovich provokes the reader not only to inquiring into the history of media and how we understand what a medium is and therefore what a metamedium is today, but also to probe the limits of the metamedium of today.
The examples he provides however, to show how this metamedium is used through abstract conceptualizations that allow us to treat media diversely, also shed light into places were caution is needed. A good example is data visualization, a term that has become popular over the past few years as the use of data for evidence-base storytelling became prominent for organizational and news outreach. This concept is heard increasingly among more audiences,