An alternative model of media could suggest how it might contribute to a climate of hope rather than a climate of fear. The history of media can be considered as a sequel to the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution explains the first 99% of the time of our species on our planet as hunter-gatherers. During that time, we had memory to store information and speech to transmit information. Since a medium is any means of storing and transmitting information, Memory and Speech could be considered as a first generation of media. Over the last few thousand years, we have moved from a hunter-gatherer to an agricultural to an industrial and now to an information society. Extending our nervous system by storing (Print and Film - second generation), transmitting (Telephone and Television - third generation), and now both storing and transmitting information outside our bodies (Multimedia and Internet - fourth generation) has enabled us to deal with those increasingly more complex societies. Both those new societies and new media are inventions of this creative species which explores and manipulates its environment. Necessity is not the mother of invention. It is the father. The human mind is the mother.|
Thus media enables us to communicate with one another over space and through time. The story of communication is the Big Story of our history [GARDINER]. Conflict is just a footnote about failures of communication. Unfortunately, each generation of media has an autocratic as well as a democratic version. The first generation - Memory and Speech - is essentially democratic. All members of our species receive those means of storing and transmitting information as part of the conception-day gift. The second generation - Print and Film - has an autocratic version (newspaper) and a democratic version (Post Office). Underlying the former is a system in which a few sources transmit information to thousands of passive destinations; underlying the latter is a system in which everyone can be both source and destination. In the third generation - Telephone and Television - the former has that democratic network of interlinked nodes of the Post Office and the latter has the few source to many destination structure of the newspaper. We wait to see whether the fourth generation - Multimedia and Internet - will be democratic or autocratic. It is intrinsically democratic since it piggybacks on the telephone system but many people, who will remain nameless, aspire to erecting Gates on the internet and Billing us for passing through them.
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