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As material-based machine reproduction was converted into the non-material realm of digital reproduction, all the world’s cultural products, regardless of the media they required, were transferred and integrated into some sort of computer file.

Consequently, the amount of hardware and machinery in every field of media noticeably decreased. Songs from LP records or CDs converted into computer MP3 files no longer required radios, amps, turntables, CD players, or any other material apparatus; all they needed was software that could fulfill the same function. Of course, software players designed with interfaces that resembled the machines they replaced were offered to users more familiar with older media, but the hardware and machinery of the material world were not essential for digital reproduction. Media that had been mass-produced through machinery was converted into digital files fit for digital reproduction, regardless of content or format, whether it was television shows, songs, or novels.

Material content loses its physical form when converted into a digital file, but the symbols and messages contained in its physical form, be they images, sounds, etc., are recreated in a new world known as digital multimedia. Digital multimedia recreates media by setting a particular protocol for a file that mimics the original media, then using digital conversion to make digital copies that can be widely distributed. Digital reproduction has the advantage of the Internet, which offers logistics and distribution on a different scale. What ensued was a total media transformation that took the form of digital conversion, reproduction, and transmission, changing the very nature of the media ecosystem.

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This article is from the free online course:

Transmedia Storytelling

Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU)