Monday, January 24, 2011

Mark Twain Strikes Again!

Throughout the readings I was reminded of the famous Mark Twain quotation, "History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."  I felt that the readings did a great job of illustrating the utopian excitement of the progressives slowly dissolving into the dystopian views of Lippman and Lasswell, and I would argue that this very model of utopian excitement about the progression communication technology dissolving into dystopian hysteria about the "future of the children" can be seen in our shift from traditional journalism (radio, television, and print) to more fragmented electronic representations (blogs, youtube, wikipedia, the Daily Show, etc).  For example, if one were to substitute out some dates, or an occasional women's suffrage comment, one could easily see Lippman's (p. 38) rant about voting being a lead story on Fox News and MSNBC.

This poses the question of how this will all play out.  Is reality closer to the excitement of Cooley and Dewey or has "the multiplication of communication channels only added to the obstacles and lack of communication between people" (Sapir, p. 74)? As for myself, I am looking forward to the rest of the readings because I have a sneaking suspicion that we are somewhere in the middle where media are not terrible dredges upon our society, but at the same time will never be able fulfill all of our hopes and aspirations.  Essentially, I feel like I am a fan of Cooley's metaphor of waves.  We have progressed out of our primitive society, where our lack of interaction (intercourse via Cooley) led individuals to be restricted by the limited nature of their individual or small group’s marsh or shallows.  While modern society is more akin to the “uninterrupted ocean, upon which the waves of change meet with no obstacles except on another, and roll as high and as far as the propagating impulse can carry them...[allowing] light ripples to now run far: the latest fashion or books permeates the back counties and encircles the earth" (p. 24-25).

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