| VIRTUAL REALITY/CYBERSPACE|
Carl Sagan classifies tools as extragenetic (that is, outside the genetic code but inside the body) or extrasomatic (that is, outside the body). Media use tools for the storage and for the transmission of information. Those two distinctions yield a two-by-two matrix, which can serve as a useful taxonomy of media. In the first generation (speech), storage and transmission are both extragenetic; in the second generation (print), storage is extrasomatic; in the third generation (television), transmission is extrasomatic; and in the fourth generation (hypermedia), both storage and transmission are extrasomatic. In this emerging fourth generation, which completes the taxonomy, information is stored electronically in disc/ks (floppy disks, hard disks, videodiscs, CD-ROM discs, etc.) and transmitted through the informatics infrastructure of a network of computer nodes linked by telecommunications.
We usually consider media as mediating between people. However, they can also be considered as mediating, within each person, between the subjective map and the objective world. The subjective map could be considered as composed of a perceptual map and a conceptual map, corresponding roughly to the thing and the word in the objective world and to text- and image-based media. It is a useful metaphor to consider the perceptual map as a function of the right hemisphere and the conceptual map as a function of the left hemisphere. Within this metaphor, the computer could be consider as the corpus callosum. This captures the two basic characteristics of computer-based media - integration and interactivity. The corpus callosum links the two hemispheres, as the computer integrates text and image, and it may link the cerebral cortex with the rest of the body, as the computer provides interactivity between thought and action.
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