The Pursuit of Knowledge: Digital Technology &Jonathan Sterne

Unlike other species, mankind is driven by the pursuit of knowledge. This has been apparent   throughout time but peak curiosity in digital technology began in the early 20th century. In the book, MP3 The Meaning of a Format, Jonathan Sterne discusses twentieth-century sound history. In it his book he describes a unethical experiment which ultimately aided in the development of the MP3. In this experiment,  scientists removes parts a cats skull and most of its brain and attached an electrode within it. The auditory cortex  located in the temporal lobe, I just took my Advanced Anatomy exam on the nervous system hence why I know the locations :),  and the auditory nerve were attached to this electrode and connected to an amplifier. After this signals were transmitted to a telephone receiver. ” What they found astonished them. The signals picked up off the auditory nerve came through the telephone receiver as sound.” (61) Although this was used during the era of the telephone Sterne begs to argue that within the MP3, like all technology, is a stark past.

We often take for granted the technology of Today. I’d like to think that the reason being is, we are so used to it and it is everywhere that we don’t think about where it came from. This class made me wonder of the history behind all the technologies that we are constantly  using.  How many cats were mutilated in order for me to speak over the phone? How many unethical experiments were implemented in order for me to write this on the computer? Does the pursuit of knowledge and technological advancements justify inhumane experiments such as the one discussed in Sterne’s book. I’d like to say no. But I can only imagine what I would say if I lived in an era without telephones, laptops, and the many technological blessings in our modern times…

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