At the moment the sperm of our fathers met the ova of our mothers to create the zygote, the single cell which became us, Zog and Anu (our hunter-gatherer ancestors) and you and I were all given the conception-day gift of all the wisdom our species has accumulated over hundreds of thousands of years of survival in a harsh arena plus three score and ten years to add our footnote to this wisdom. An important part of the conception-day gift is a means of storing information (memory) and a means of transmitting information (speech). Since a medium can be considered as any means of storing and transmitting information, Memory and Speech could thus be considered as a first generation of media.

      This first generation of media is adequate for a hunter-gatherer society. How did we manage the transitions to an agricultural society, an industrial society, and now an information society? In A History of Media [Gardiner], I have argued that, over historical time, we have supplemented this first generation of media with three further generations of media. We have developed means of storing and transmitting information outside our bodies. We learned to store information outside our bodies in print and on film (second generation), to transmit information outside our bodies with telephone and television (third generation), and to both store and transmit information outside our bodies in multimedia and internet (fourth generation). Thus media fits firmly within that gap left by nature to be filled in by nurture, and the history of media is a sequel to the theory of evolution.

      Carl Sagan distinguishes between extragenetic information (not included in the genetic code but still inside the body) and extrasomatic information (outside the body) [Sagan]. Since we can store and transmit extragenetic and extrasomatic information, we can represent those four generations of media in the 2x2 matrix depicted in Figure 2.

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