1987 - ON MEDIA

Media and My Species

      The invention of the computer is the latest (and arguably the last) stage in the Big Story of our species. The first part of the story is told in the theory of evolution. It explains how our species got to a hunter-gatherer society, or in my terms, how we all got the conception-day gift. This gift includes a means of storing information (Memory) and a means of transmitting information (Speech). Memory and Speech could be considered then as a first generation of media. Over historical time, we have moved to an agricultural, an industrial, and now an information society. In order to deal with the increasing complexity, we have extended our nervous system by storing information outside our body (Print and Film - second generation), transmitting information outside our body (Telephone and Television - third generation) and both storing and transmitting information outside our body (Multimedia and Internet - fourth generation). The history of media is a sequel to the theory of evolution.

      The first generation of media - memory to store information and speech to transmit information - is part of the conception-day gift. No matter how poor the situation in which one is born, every normal person acquires this first generation of media. However, that wisdom is fully adequate only for a hunter-gatherer society. Life has got much more complicated over the last few thousand years as we have moved into an agricultural, an industrial, and now an information society. The second, third, and fourth generations of media, invented to deal with an increasingly complex society, require access to school and to technology. Human technology is not as democratic as nature technology. That is why the full human potential is not reached by most of the people on our planet. That is why those members of my karass who were born in extreme poverty - Floyd Patterson, Felipe Alou, Loretta Lynn, Elvis Presley, Dudley Moore - needed a bit of luck to escape the constraints of poverty (see 1984 ON CHOICE).

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