Reimagining copies in digital networks

Margie Borschke

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Online entertainment platforms such as Spotify, Netflix and Apple Music are thought to have bypassed the problem of piracy with industry-friendly streaming technologies. And yet, while we have witnessed a shift in consumption practices away from the unauthorized copying, collecting and the virtual hoarding that characterized the first decade of the 21st Century, streaming technologies and cloud-based storage, like all digital technologies, are still dependent on copies and copying. In this chapter, I draw attention to the rhetoric of the cloud and the stream, unpacking the imaginative work they are asked to do and showing how and why they obscure the centrality of the copy in digital media culture. I outline some pivotal ideas about copies that are relevant to media and communications studies and show how accounting for the double life of copies highlights the material dimensions of digital culture and its cultural history. I take care to disentangle debates about the ontology of copies with questions of mimesis and authenticity and explain why doing so is crucial to understanding digital technologies and networks. In doing so I hope to clarify how intersecting questions about representation and circulation are illuminated by a study of copies and their material and rhetorical histories.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationReimagining communication
Subtitle of host publicationmediation
EditorsMichael Filimowicz, Veronika Tzankova
Place of PublicationNew York ; London
PublisherRoutledge, Taylor and Francis Group
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9781351015431
ISBN (Print)9781138498907, 9781138498914
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • cloud computing
  • streaming media
  • Infrastructure
  • metaphor
  • copy


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