Thoughts and Reflection on Digitization and Metamedia

Having already taken CCTP 506, I was familiar with the whole notion of the analog-digital divide. We learned about the nature of the continuous-discrete dichotomy, and how fundamental the process of digitization has been to modern technological advancements. From the music we listen to on our digital devices, to the movies and TV shows we watch on our streaming services, the entire modern media landscape is built on the process of digitization.

The concept of metamedia is also been crucial to understanding our modern technological landscape. The ability to remediate and build on existent media has been foundational to the explosion of symbolic artifacts – as expressed through media and content – we’ve been creating and consuming in this era.

But what are the design ramifications of these concepts? Well, this is where tracking the modern history of technological advance is vital. Looking back at Alan Kay’s Dynabook and Ivan Sutherland’s Sketchpad shows us the lineage of design for devices that utilize digitization and metamedia. Our modern platforms and devices (smartphones, iPads, laptops, etc) are all built on the concepts and features of these technologies. The importance of combinatorial design principles is made evident when we juxtapose the older technologies with our newer ones. At the heart of both is the idea that utilizing the process of digitization in the name of metamedia will open up the door to further creative technological advancements.

What I’m interested in is what the next step will be. What will computational design look like in the next few decades? Concepts like ubiquitous computing, perceptual computing, and of course both virtual and augmented reality are gaining steam. It’s important that in the pursuit of design advancements, we understand that what makes our modern devices so transformational is their ability to act as platforms for metamedia, and they have a very rich design history behind them.


  1. Irvine, Martin Key Design Concepts for Interactive Interfaces and Digital Media
  2. White, Ron and Downs, Timothy How Digital Photography Works. 2nd ed. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing, 2007.
  3. Manovich, Lev. The Language of New Media: “What is New Media ” (excerpt). Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.