TCRG May 28: Perceptual Technics (Sterne)

by lukevanryn

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“Perceptual technics did for perception what ergonomics did for work” (19).

This week sees us shift interfaces to formats with a chapter from Jonathan Sterne’s MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Duke UP, 2012) courtesy of Suneel. In the chapter Sterne discusses the relation between psychoacoustics and its influence over perceptual coding in hearing research. He argues that psychoacoustics and its use of sound measurement technology brings with it a set of discursive rules which guide investigations in human hearing and sound technology, thus “discussions of the psychology relating to the MP3 are conditioned by the philosophical, cultural, and political sensibilities of psychoacoustics” (p.19). The term “perceptual technics” is used to refer to a field of research that was used to economise signals. For example AT&T in the 1920s tuned the phone system to the range necessary to understand human speech and thereby created and then monetized surplus bandwidth.

We’ll meet as usual in the Pierre Gorman Room, 1888 Building. All are welcome.

[PDF, 5.7MB] Sterne, J. (2012) “Perceptual Technics” MP3: The Meaning of a Format. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, pp. 32-60, 258-263.