07 January 2006

Hearing the Medium, Hearing the Message

Wired has a great story, "My Bionic Quest for Boléro," that truly demonstrates that the medium is the message. The story describes how the author, Michael Chorost - partially deaf from birth and completely deaf from teenage - embarked on a quest to once again hear and enjoy Ravel's Boléro. That quest led him to a cochlear implant, as well as audiologists and engineers willing to hack its firmware to expand the range of sonic fidelity to capture not only the spoken word, but music.

The article itself is a fascinating read. Cory Doctorow interprets as a testimony to a person being able to take some purchased technology "to improve it, to extend it, using her own body and perceptions as a labratory for experiments on human perception and performance." (This, by the way, is something that the techno-entertainment companies are working hard to prevent.) I additionally see this as a near perfect lesson in the difference between the content and the message of a medium.

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