| The Apple Macintosh computer was initially presented as the computer for 'the rest of us'. Many people recognized themselves as falling into that category and moved into the fourth generation of media. However, many more people are still 'the rest of us'. The Apple Corporation is a long way from its vision of 'one person, one Macintosh'. Penetration, though fast, is still a small percentage of the population of our planet. What about 'the rest of them'?|
We need not concern ourselves with them if the electronic book is only a specialized subtopic within an obscure academic discipline of computer-assisted learning. However, the electronic book is only one of a number of metaphors for the various exciting products of an emerging fourth generation of media. By the end of the century, this fourth generation (let us call it hypermedia) may be as ubiquitous as the print of the second generation and the videos of the third generation. It is necessary, for this to be so, to invite the larger population to use, or at least, to accept, this fourth generation.
FOUR GENERATIONS OF MEDIA
Any medium involves the use of tools for the storage and transmission of information. Storage and transmission tools may be either extragenetic (that is, outside the genetic code but still inside the body) or extrasomatic (that is, outside the body). This distinction, courtesy of Carl Sagan, suggests how we use media to extend the phylogenetic information we share in our genetic codes at the moment of conception. Those two distinctions yield a two-by-two matrix which provides a useful typology of media. The relationship between these divisions is illustrated schematically in Figure 1.
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