How we benefit from digitization

The invention of the Dynabook brought about the concept of metamedium introduced by Kay and Goldberg. Computer is not simply a medium, but is “a metamedium whose content is a wide range of already-existing and not-yet-invented media.” Based on this definition, media can be divided into two types. Firstly, as a remediation machine, computer simulates a range of early media and adds new properties to these media. Texts can be edited with different fonts, while photos can be easily modified by changing different styles of filters and contrast. We are able to combine, cut, adding subtitles to existing video clips by video production software. Secondly, computer presents “new computational media that have no physical precedents”. Hybrid media achieve the reconfiguration of different media types with the help of computer, and this novel combination of media types could hardly realize in the past. Movie’s special affects, for instance, the properties of graphic design, cinematography and 3D animation are exchanged and interacted in a deeper level. It seems that most of us take our using experience of metamedia for granted, however, we should always keep in mind that all media development is inseparable from digitization.

Digitization provides new possibilities for metamedium

According to Manovich, digitization is a process of “converting continuous data into numerical representation”. Time-based music, a continuous, physically perceptible data (analog) becomes programmable through sampling. It is then converted into discrete data (digital) and assigned numerical values. In the past times, if we want to record music played by different instruments in a band, we could only gather all musicians to play the music continuously until we get the best version of the record. Representing in a mathematic way, we could easily locate a specific segment that we want to edit. It becomes possible to make music remixes by combining different pieces of songs together and adding more computational sound effects, which is widely used in pop music nowadays. Specifically, the embedded sound effects such as drum and bass are previously programmed in the computer. As Manovich asserted that new media have principles of automation and variability, computer in part helps us automatically create sound effects, thus inventing a new music with new properties.

djay 2 is an app for music remixes. Even new beginners can mix music perfectly through the interface like a professional DJ using a turntable in physical world.

The consequence of digitization is significant. New media is interactive that users can engage in media creation, which solved Kay’s concern about the availability and adaptability of programming tools for ordinary users. Moreover, digital computer “has capabilities to create new kinds of media for expression and communication.” Physical images, texts, sounds, as analog information are digitized in the numerical forms. After new media have been invented in computer, they have to return back to analog forms that enable human to perceive and recognize. According to Irvine, “everything computational and digital facilitates our core human symbolic-cognitive capabilities.” In my point of view, analog-digital-analog continuum creates a spiral for us to continuously accept new forms of media created by ever developing computational design and digitization, and it helps upgrade human’s cognition to the world.


Irvine-Computers-as-Cognitive-Interfaces-and-Metamedia-820.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2017, from

Manovich, L. (2013). Software Takes Command, New York;London;: Bloomsbury.

Manovich-The_Language_of_New_Media-Principles-excerpt.pdf. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2017, from

Reid, B. (2014, May 22). Popular App djay 2 Updated With Tons Of New Features, iPhone App Gone GREE For The First TIme Ever. [blog post]. Retrieved from