“Slow Media”? It sure beats residual, legacy, heirloom, dead or zombie media

Many have pondered the endurance of old media in a digital world and observed how people reuse, repair, and recycle artifacts such as telephones, typewriters, letters, player pianos, and the like. Some call these artifacts “residual media” or “legacy media.” Neither term effectively conveys the fact that people choose to use these media products, among many options; they are not merely inherited or left over. Others more approvingly deem them “heirloom” technologies. Some even apply epithets like “dead media” or “zombie media” to abandoned devices—recognizing the fact that artifacts decay and inhabit the Earth long after their supposed deaths.

I prefer calling them “Slow Media,” which connotes both a critique of speedy consumerist culture and a set of alternative practices. As my book details, people are seeking a balance that works for them: some combination of using more print and analog media, using digital media in Slow ways, using less fast media (temporarily or permanently), and reducing all media in favor of unmediated activities. The Slow framework foregrounds how speed drives capitalist media processes that have a profound environmental impact: resource extraction, mass manufacturing, planned obsolescence and quick disposal.

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