Before the MP3

BY BRI LaPELUSA | JANUARY 21, 2010 7:30 AM

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As citizens of the 21st century, we are exposed to a seemingly infinite number of recorded media.

But before the pandemic of iPhones, digital cameras, and Garage Band, there was the tape recorder.

Still an essential tool for journalists and college students, the tape recorder changed worldwide communication forever.

The UI International Programs’ WorldCanvass Project aims to explore the groundbreaking influence of the technology with its program “Taping the World” at 5 p.m. Friday.

International Programs produces WorldCanvass in collaboration with students, faculty, and community partners. Past programs have focused on topics in Africa and on human rights. Joan Kjaer, the WorldCanvass host and International Programs senior communications adviser, said the idea for the program has its roots in the growing global network.

“I think we realize more and more every day that this is a very connected world,” she said. “Things that happen ‘way over there’ are actually very close.”

“Taping the World” will be recorded before a live audience in the Old Capitol Senate Chamber. In addition to a live stream on the International Programs’ website, the show will be broadcast on UITV at 8 p.m. Friday and on KRUI radio at 8 a.m. Jan. 30.

The two-hour program will examine the importance of the tape recorder in relation to various political, historical, and artistic global issues. Kjaer said the device shapes roles in human interaction.

“The way history, music, and the arts were recorded — shared across borders and archived — was entirely different,” she said. “Suddenly, you could hear the tape recording of a poet who lives on the other side of the world.”

The conversation will extend into discussion of the audio recorder’s emotional translation. UI English Professor Garrett Stewart says the power of audio books and literature on tape is dynamic.

“When literature is read aloud, it brings out some emphases and nuances in the text that wouldn’t be captured otherwise,” he said. “It gives you a kind of inside feel for the author’s own sense of the wording.”

“Taping the World” emphasizes the recorder as a powerful piece of technology that has changed the course of personal and worldwide history.

Journalist Lisa Weaver, documentarian Jeff Porter, and double bassist Volkan Orhon will discuss the use of the tape recorder in their fields of expertise. “Taping the World” will also feature a recently discovered recording of poet Walt Whitman.

In addition, the Killer Apps’ instrumental iPhone adaptations of classic rock songs, such as Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” will demonstrate the innovative the use of modern recording technology.

“I hope [the show] tackles some interesting and compelling topics while also being fun and enjoyable,” Kjaer said.

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