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This article addresses how new media theory has been founded on an endemic exclusion and erasure of a concept of the material, because of the ascendancy of a concept of the virtual in theoretical and historical research on the development of new media technologies. In order to develop this claim, three influential accounts of the virtual in media studies are reviewed (the history of technologies of the virtual, embodiment and informatics, and post-structuralist theories of digital media) in order to demonstrate how each is grounded in an exclusion of the material. On the basis of this analysis, the article poses a definition of the material that responds to, but is not informed by, these exclusions, one that acknowledges the media’s role in enhancing one’s capacity to cognize the things in one’s immediate physical surroundings.