|FIVE PROCESSES OF CHANGE|
Innovations in computer technology, innovations in telecommunications technology, their convergence into informatics and their penetration into society has resulted in a paradigmatic shift from an industrial society, based on energy, to a post-industrial society, based on information (see Figure 1). The revolution is over. Focus now shifts from What's happening? to So what?. We now consider the implications of this shift for our various institutions. The major implication for my discipline of communication studies is that it introduces a fourth generation of media.
FOUR GENERATIONS OF MEDIA
Carl Sagan (1977) classifies tools as extragenetic (that is, outside the genetic code but inside the body) or extrasomatic (that is, outside the body). Any medium involves the use of tools for the storage and the transmission of information. Those two distinctions yield a two-by-two matrix, which can serve as a useful taxonomy of media (see Figure 2).
In the first generation (speech), storage and transmission of information are both extragenetic; in the second (print), storage is extrasomatic; in the third (video), transmission is extrasomatic; and in this emerging fourth generation (hypermedia) - which completes the taxonomy - both storage and transmission are extrasomatic. Information is stored electronically in disc/ks (floppy, hard, video, CD-ROM, etc.) and transmitted by the informatics infra-structure of a network of computer nodes linked by telecommunications. Whereas the second generation assists in the creation of a conceptual map of the objective world (verbo literacy), and the third generation in the creation of a perceptual map (visual literacy), this fourth generation enables us to integrate those maps (verbo-visual literacy).
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