Compression, convergence and conviviality: the contribution of new technologies to developments in radio from the 1980s

Bissell, Christopher (2016). Compression, convergence and conviviality: the contribution of new technologies to developments in radio from the 1980s. In: ICOHTEC2016, 26-30 Jul 2016, Porto, Portugal.

Abstract

This paper examines the rôle of new information technologies in the development of radio over the last four decades. The move to digital techniques saw the application of increasingly sophisticated compression algorithms, such as in the MPEG suite of standards, and the convergence of military and civilian technologies such as in the context of GSM. Digital techniques have also seen the convergence of audio and video in radio broadcasting: most radio networks now have websites, Facebook and Twitter feeds, and still photographs and moving video resources of various types are widely used to support radio programmes. In addition to commercial social networking sites, many radio broadcasters also include audience participation via specialised on-line forums or other forms of electronic communication between producers and consumers. It is not too fanciful to speak of a new conviviality within radio audiences – a conviviality that has existed in various forms since the early days of broadcasting, but which has recently undergone a categorical change in the active participation of listeners. Following a brief, but hopefully accessible, explanation of some compression techniques, the paper will examine the interaction between technological developments and social behaviour in their recent historical contexts.

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