Sunday, February 17, 2013

From Here to Where in the Future?

My original intentions were to write about Marshall McLuhan and the newspaper. How he focused on writing as a political revolution that changed the nature of social communication. That here was this huge shift from oral communication to written and the mass effects that printing brought upon society like the reproduction of textbooks and how that changed the way peopled study from live audiences to private analysis.

As I thought about the huge shift of written communication replacing oral, I kept thinking back to an earlier piece by Harold Innis, Industrialism and Cultural Values, and his critical vision that "Each civilization has its own method of suicide". As he speaks of modern civilization he goes through a brief history of cultural development in the West showing that uniqueness of culture and elements which make for duration and extension. He goes on to say that cultures will reflect their influences in terms of space and in terms of duration and that the limitation of culture are in part a result of the inability to muster the intellectual resources of a people to the point where stagnation can be avoided and boredom can be evaded.

In the beginning for many cultures, architecture and sculpture was designed to emphasize prestige. Over time though, the writing on clay became the basis for communication which lead to trade and power. Sargon of the Akkadians brought religious communities under control with writing which lead to the capital at Babylon. Assyrians brought new technological advance in warfare and then became the dominate force  until they were taken down by Persia. This goes on and on until Innis states that "Greek culture was destroyed in the growth of writing and of individualism in the latter part of the fifth century."

This got me thinking as to what could our downfall be here in America?  Will the adoption of a new form of communication ever overtake our culture and backfire because we weren't ready or it wasn't the best move? Will the internet be the death of the printed newspapers?  Will everything become digital and streamed so we won't need actual cable for television? Will this gigantic move to digital communication ever backfire on us, causing us to loose all the information that we've stored up in "the cloud?"

I found this video produced by Microsoft that displays their vision for the future. Although it's two years old, you can see a few of their predictions already come to life (face-timing, scanning a poster to make an instant donation, little things here and there) but the overall complexity of this synchronized communication is incredible and unfathomable to me.

As Lindsey asked in her post, will the newspaper ever go away? I looked in this video and could not find one trace of paper in the entire thing. I somewhat find that scary that we rely so much on electronics but maybe it truly is the way of the future. I just hope it's not the downfall of our society in centuries to come.

No comments:

Post a Comment