Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Additional thoughts from 1/31 readings

I failed to contribute much during class, but I had some additional thoughts/quotes I wanted to share.

First, a quote on page 103 from Mumford: "... the breadth and too-frequent repetition of personal intercourse may be socially inefficient is already plain through the abuse of the telephone... one is faced here with a magnified form of danger common to all inventions: a tendency to use them whether or not the occasion demands." I know I keep relating things back to The Fountainhead this week, but in one section of the book, Roark goes to visit an incapacitated Cameron who is unable to travel. Roark returns after only a week of visiting previously and the narrator explains why they had wordlessly insisted on infrequent visits - because it gave more meaning to them. I think there's validity to this argument regarding social media, email, texting and other digital interaction. A friend and I were having this very discussion a little over a year ago and decided that we were going to start writing letters (he lives in Colorado). We've kept up with it ever since, and though some may laugh at this arcane way of communicating, I thoroughly enjoy it. I feel as though it truly allows a certain substance to the conversation in a few ways. One major consideration is the time it takes to write a 4- or 5-page letter; simply knowing the dedication each party commits is of value in itself. That said, we still email... and talk on facebook... and text... but I had never had the experience of writing letters and recommend trying it:) The second part of the quote addresses the (at times) unnecessary use of these all-to-easy means of communication, though I think this can also be applied to discourse (i.e. talking to hear your own voice).

The other quote I pulled from Mumford was on page 104: "Man's culture depends for its transmission in time upon the permanent record: the building, the monument, the inscribed word."

Though it is a minor passage and in no way summarizes this particular reading or section, my thought was this: with the exponential increase in information output and obvious structural changes that have come with our shift to a networked society, how will our generation be defined on the future? This thought had two threads: personal and societal transmission.

First, I'm curious how a networked structure and digital media will allow the passing down of family stories, baby books, photographs and the like. Will these continue to take print form? Will they transform to digital? I can't imagine that handing your great grandchildren a USB drive of your family's visual and textual history will have the same emotion tied to it.

Second, my larger question was how our generation will be remembered amidst the overwhelming influx of digital information. With media of the past, the means available restricted who and how many voices of a particular generation were read or heard. Though mass media offered much greater capabilities than known before, the digital revolution has not only exponentially increased reach but has also opened an unlimited number of doors for content creators. Anyone with access is able to publish online. Though I've previously wondered how "the classics" and other chosen memorabilia were designated as such, I'm even more curious how profound thoughts of our time will be amplified and preserved amidst the din.

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