The Carrier Wave Principle

Aram Sinnreich, Jesse Gilbert


In this article, we propose a new theoretical premise called the “carrier wave principle.” It holds that there is no fixed limit to the amount and variety of knowledge that may be produced from a given cultural artifact. This can be understood in relation to the exponential growth in the power and ubiquity of computational processing, which has reduced the procedural distance between cultural production, transmission, archiving, reception, and analysis. The resulting cascade of new interpretive epistemes has challenged the capacity of individuals, communities, and institutions to adapt, posing real-world challenges for privacy, identity, and subjectivity. We conclude that this principle will be integral to developing media, policies, and technologies that empower individuals and communities as computational processing continues to expand in adoption and scope.


media studies, science and technology studies, information science, surveillance, privacy, authorship, affordances, computational analysis, forensics, epistemology

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