How to do things with data: Meta–data, meta–media, and meta–communication
Moving beyond prevalent technological notions of meta–data, this essay conceptualizes meta–data as the outcome of diverse social practices from the perspective of communication theory. First, I revisit cybernetics and consider the relevance of the concept of meta–communication for the study of the digital media environment. While the bit trails that users leave behind are not normally conceptualized as communication, they are prime candidates for inclusion in a contemporary theory of communication. Second, I discuss digital media as meta–media — media that potentially reproduce and integrate other types of media, old and new. Meta–media yield new varieties of meta–communication and meta–data. Third, I outline a typology of meta–communication for further research on digital media, integrating insights from cybernetics and semiotics.
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