In popular culture, the MP3 has acquired the status of object. Users buy, exchange, and collect them. Writers often even represent MP3s as inert objects that ‘impact’ an industry, a social environment, or a legal system 13. However, they are not objects – the MP3 simply refers to the format used to compress the data.
Cultural theorists like Sterne urge us to take a closer look at the passage of technological objects like MP3 in society in order to understand their importance and the real role they play. In addition, they question our linguistic use of the terms that designate these technologies.
In particular, Sterne 13 argues that MP3 has effectively become an artifact of culture, that is to say a product which has undergone a transformation by man, and which is thus distinguished from another caused by a natural phenomenon 15 . He points out that the word MP3, as used today, is the product of transformations undergone by several parties: the electronics industry, the audio recording industry, and consumers and their practices. hearing music. So in The MP3 as a cultural artefact 13the reader is in a hurry to reconsider the simplification that MP3 ‘impacts’ society. Rather, MP3 does what it was supposed to do – eliminate redundancies, and travel longer distances more often and with less effort.
Regarding the nature of possession of the MP3 as an object, Knott 14 states that to use an MP3 we need other intermediate objects. If these objects that store MP3s cease to exist, the MP3s are unusable, which is not the case with CD’s or Vinyls. CD’s and Vinyls exist independently of the objects that are used to listen to them – they are not stored in the intermediate objects themselves. Knott calls MP3 quasi-posessions – full possession of the MP3 is difficult. Legally, for example, users are prohibited from sharing MP3s for copyright reasons. For this reason, he points out that the users are rather stewardsas owners. Under this metaphor, Knott points out that consumption methods have changed – rather than focusing on the music itself, users are focused on creating playlists and accumulating music.