“Medium Theory” Final Question – Dominic Belmonte


Since the creation of language, humans have contained an inherent desire to share ideas and develop new concepts. Different mediums have shaped the interactions of different societies over time, as well as the spread of information and eventually the development of fundamental beliefs. “Medium Theory”, written by Joshua Meyrowitz, examines variables as the senses that are required for specific mediums, as well as how to encode and decode specific mediums. This essay explains the developments from oral culture, to the transitional scribal phase, to print culture, and eventually the global electronic culture; each phase containing it’s own special developments based upon its predecessor.

The original and most basic medium described in “Medium Theory” is the development of oral culture. Oral culture relies completely on the living memory of people because it is essentially the spread of information by the word of mouth. Due to this, oral cultures is ‘closed’ in two senses. First, since the information people are obtaining is only from the people around them, and second, complex ideas are not often spread because they are difficult to remember, even for those who developed them. These problems however were solved with the development of the scribal phase.

The transitional scribal phase developed when written language became more common. It offers a way to preserve one’s ideas in a way that previously would have been impossible to do. Writing down ideas also “establishes the potential for true ‘literature’, ‘science’, and ‘philosophy’.” (Text Ch.2) This phase also allowed individuals to spread ideas to people who did not live next to them. The only major downside to this form was that only people who were very educated could participate. This form eventually led to the development of print culture.

The rise in the modern print culture further enabled the literate middle and upper class members to partake in the immense network of information that was newly available. People began to write about things that the illiterate can not partake in and people began to develop viewpoints and perspectives. These individualized ideas being spread created new conceptions of literary style, fame, authorship, and intellectual property. During this time the emphasis on literacy grew and led to the next medium of the global electronic culture.

The global electronic culture, which is now the main medium around the world, built upon the print culture, and with the help of the internet, created a web of electronic media. This web is shared globally and allows its information to be stored and viewed by anyone worldwide. This availability of information paired with increased literacy rates allows for electronic media to create new types of “shared experiences.” The creation of Web 2.0 plays a large role in this modern spreading of information.

Web 2.0’s services and applications allow users to partake in more interactive and user-to-user interactions than ever before. It offers people the ability to spread information faster than ever before and reach an extremely large audience in a short period of time. This fits into the argument of global electronic culture it can preserve information as well as be experienced by large amounts of people at any given moment. This development is so important because it draws upon the fundamental basis of each medium which is to preserve cultural heritage and spread ideas. The influence of social media outlets that have been created is monumental in the development of future generations and their exposure to important information. However, this development also comes with a large drawback. It proposes the question, how much is too much? Parents must be aware of the content that their children are viewing and new social media outlets have developed new forms of bullying and other negative unintended consequencesSurprised baby boy using a laptop computer     The negative outcomes of Web 2.0 are potentially outweighed by the positive outcomes that have resulted. The Internets ability for instant communication has played a large role in the development of medical advances, collaborations between different global countries, and mediums to support societal change. The development of new mediums have allowed individuals to interact in a way that was never before possible, and permanently changed the way the world operates.

Words: 683


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