Media theory investigates the technoculturaloperation of media, including media technologies and social practices. The basic question media theory must ask is “what is media?” If something is identified as media, is it always media or only under certain circumstances? For example, paint is a mediumwhen used for a painting, but what about on a wall or in a can? Air is a medium for sound and music, but what about when the world is silent? Fiber optic cables, wifi signals, and the internal operations of a computer delivering a film on a laptop are media, but so is the film. How do they relate? Conversely, what is not media?
Once we have a provisional understanding of media or at least the media we wish to study, we can begin to ask questions about its operation. What is the technical function of media? What is its history? How was it developed? What aesthetic and/or rhetorical capacities does it make available to us? How do we interact with media as authors, artists, producers, viewers, readers, users, etc.? How do we experience media?