Thursday, June 30, 2005
  Radio, the World, the Discrete
-> from an ongoing analysis at http://www.as.wvu.edu:8000/clc/projects/plaintext_tools/

"Not only is radio tremulous in its reception of the stars themselves; it is also analogic, requiring no decoding; what you hear, what you record, is what there is.
The opposite holds for online radio, packet-protocolradio, no matter how shipped; like a jpg image, it requires specific constructs to make sense of it all. And such constructs tie into very notions of software coding, intellectual property, corporate and personal privacy. What the antenna registers, what the wires contact, may becontacted by all; they are primordial, inert. Give a wave length or wave-length bundle, give a direction or directions or omni-directions, and what comes in, comes in to any living creature, ready for the interpretation or not, Rosset's idiocy, or the muteness of the world.

Move to the Net, Netradio, already the raster is at work; there is a fineness, an absolute floor and absolute ceiling, of the recording/playback - of the apparatus itself - that cannot be bypassed; extrapolation is trusting at best - that nothing in-between, no out-of-packet information, exists to trouble the rest. This is the differend at work, surely, and it is the differend that characterizes the digital - what is not permitted to speak, what is literally circumlocuted.

Radio brings the unknown to bear; the Net brings the known to the bearable.
Given a text/image/audio/whatever file - that is all there is, nothing more; it exhausts itself and is exhausted and the play of content, the semiosis, exists in the perceiver, not 'out there.' This is secondary narcissism, looping through the machine; primary narcissism is the realm of the analogic, our cosmological identification.

~~~ The history of radio is merged with the history of the electromagnetic, and given the movement towards packet and protocol, it is interesting to observe a movement from externality to internality, from brass spheres through the Wimhurst generator, from the crystal detector through the audion. Within the audion, and early triode, the filament glow was visible, an electronic hearth boiling off electrons. This was the analogic pulse of vacuum-tube radio, a pulse of light and heat and the quietest of sounds still sought by rock guitarists and audiophiles alike. Transistors internalized current into the literal black-box, and integrated circuits and circuit boards eliminated almost all of the hand-wiring.

With the digital, the unit becomes tight, compact, although as always, still hack-able; repairs are another matter. The analog was a transitive filter, passing along the cosmos within rough bandwidth; the digital is activesampling. The transparency of the analog was reflected in the transparency of the radios themselves (capacitors and transformers etc. notwithstanding); the opaqueness of the digital, the complexity of the protocols and their arbitrariness, is reflected in the opaqueness of CPUs. It's both ironic and fascinating that mod cases now bring the hearth-glow back into the heart of the machine, with lights that do nothing but illuminate silent circuitry. We still believe we are among beings; we always will, and that is part and parcel of our cosmic reach, no matter how mediated it becomes. The mistake is to take the mediation and machinic for things themselves; certainly, on the level of _object_ and certainly not on the level of _function._ We design within the imminence of potential wells, both analog and digital; otherwise we would never hear a thing.
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