Making the Perfect Record: From Inscription to Impression in Early Magnetic Recording

An Immediate Medium

Lisa Gitelman and Theresa M. Collins (2009, 2) make an observation worth repeating here: “McLuhan’s identification of the electric light as a medium can be difficult to map backward to the 1880s, at least insofar as that term—medium—did not mean what it would later on. Throughout the nineteenth century a medium was ‘an intervening agency or substance.’ So, for instance, United States patents that used the plural form, media, in the nineteenth century do so with greatest frequency in reference to ‘filtering media,’ substances which work to filter solutions from more to less cloudy. Beyond filtering, a quick tally of additional uses reveals grinding media, nutrient media; conducting media for heat or for electricity, also insulating media, absorbent media; mechanical media as in ‘the media of gearwheels,’ clamping and fastening media, rotating media, flexible or elastic media, actuating media such as a hydraulic lift; as well as perforated media, transparent media, resisting and obstructing media.”

(This note comments on the page titled, "The Perfect Record and Plausible Denial.")

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