Digital Media Technological Freedoms

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Digital media are characterized by a number of freedoms unavailable for analogue media.


From Jonas Andersen's thesis on Communication Networks:

"This gives digital media its unique characteristics: It can semantically decode the same binary information in a multiplicity of different ways, thus being able to simulate several of the other types of media in existence. This means that at the physical level have similar binary codes that do not represent any specific properties before being interpreted through an algorithm. Finnemann (1998) distinguishes two liberties in this characteristic setting digital media apart from the previous types of media: syntactic freedom, and semantic freedom. As mentioned, Finnemann categorises the fundamental characteristic of digital media in two main categories of freedom from the technological platform; syntactic and semantic freedoms. In the parlour of Finnemann, the unique codification abilities of digital media fall in the two categories as shown here (Finnemann 1998):


- No syntax occur in every computational process - The same syntax can be utilized for different purposes. - A given decoding algorithm can result in many different semantic meanings. - In every process you can choose to change the syntactic structure as well as its function. This gives the opportunity to edit the semantics of the media itself.


- The freedom to choose between formal and linguistic semantics. - The possibility to utilize several different types of semantics throughout a process i.e. applications whose interfaces use iconographic as well as formal semantics.

If you look at a given binary coded batch of information such as the example of the web page interpreted from ‘Information batch A’, the information can be decoded by a complex number of different interchangeable algorithms. This means that in digital media, there is already a semantic decoding process in progress that is semantically totally indifferent to the binary information as such. In other words the binary alphabet is, just like the written alphabet, semantically neutral in that the semantic connotations and content is only determined after the application of a decoding algorithm, which is selected by convention rather than calculation. This means that the binary alphabet does in itself contain any combinations of 0 and 1 analogous to words in the written alphabet. These combinations, like with the letters in the roman alphabet, only occur on the algorithmic level equivalent to that of the English language.

These freedoms mean that digital media in contrast to analogue and printed media are semantically free from their technological material by way of algorithmic decoding." (