9.354 digital radio

Humanist (mccarty@phoenix.Princeton.EDU)
Mon, 4 Dec 1995 21:26:38 -0500 (EST)

Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 354.
Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities (Princeton/Rutgers)

[1] From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca> (21)
Subject: digital radio

[2] From: Andrew Armour <armour@pncl.co.uk> (22)
Subject: Re: 9.347 digital radio

Date: Mon, 4 Dec 1995 00:15:30 -0500
From: Willard McCarty <mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca>
Subject: digital radio

Thanks to Jascha Kessler for the note in Humanist 9.347 about digital radio
in Europe. The point of my note, however, was not at all about quality of
sound or the obsolescence of FM as such. It was about what might be done
with radio once it is available in digital form, i.e. technologically,
storage and retrieval as randomly accessible units of information. I wanted
to know why anyone would want to do such a thing, and if it is granted that
they do, why we should think of the new form as *replacing* rather than
augmenting what we now call radio. My question was about what happens when a
new medium of communication enters the artificial sensorium, about the need
to figure out what the new medium is actually good for, and how it alters
our understanding of older media. It was, again, a favourite hobby-horsey
topic of mine, the stupidity of imitative thinking. I accept the fact that
this is what we do with a new technology at first but not that those of us
who know better should keep on doing it. I am prepared to be told that
riding this very hobby-horse is ALSO what we have always done at a somewhat
later stage, but believing not in determinisms I spare not my rant.



Willard McCarty, Centre for Computing in the Humanities
Departments of Classical Studies and Italian Studies (Toronto)
(416) 978-3974 voice (416) 978-6519 fax mccarty@epas.utoronto.ca

Date: Mon, 04 Dec 1995 01:30:00 +0000
From: Andrew Armour <armour@pncl.co.uk>
Subject: Re: 9.347 digital radio

> Humanist Discussion Group, Vol. 9, No. 347.
> [1] From: Jascha Kessler <JKessler@ucla.edu> (14)
> Subject: Re: 9.339 more media meditations
>How odd, this about radio! If you drive in Europe, you rent a car and hear
>digital radio. Here, the Classical FM that meant so much to us for the
>last 40 years is unlistenable. . . .
>Until we have FM that is digital, and receivers, one has
>to forget about music, after the ears have changed.

Odd indeed! And about as confused as the Good Times virus warnings. I doubt
very much that rental cars in Europe are equipped for DAB, which is what I
think you are referring to. The receivers are prohibitively expensive and
BBC DAB broadcasts are still experimental. Incidentally, DAB will replace
FM, so there won't ever be "FM that is digital". If you were in England, you
may have heard "Classic FM", which can sound quite good (though not in my
car); as with any FM station, though, you have to keep changing frequency as
you travel [this is not necessary with DAB]. If you want to know more about
Classic FM and its export to the US, see *The Economist* (p.108, 1995-12-02).

By the way, if you are a purist, you may not like DAB. It uses a sort of
lossy compression that eliminates sounds supposedly outside the hearing
threshold (like the ATRAC system used for the Sony MiniDisc). In this way
the amount of data for transmission is greatly reduced. I mention this only
because it is a principal that might have applications in the Humanities
(substitute comprehension for hearing).