| FOUR GENERATIONS OF MEDIA
HISTORY is mostly STORY - the HI is just to get your attention. So HI - now here's the STORY.
Once upon a time, a sperm merged with an ova to create a zygote - the single cell which unfolded into me or Dipti or you or you. That is, this is the universal story of all of us. At that moment, each of us was given the conception-day gift of all the wisdom our species has accumulated over millions 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). 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? Historical time is too short for the mechanisms of evolution to have much effect. It is unlikely that there is much genetic difference between our hunter-gatherer ancestors and you and I.
The story continues by telling how, over historical time, we have responded to the challenge of this drastic shifts in the structure of society by extending our nervous systems. 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).
Carl Sagan distinguishes between extragenetic tools (outside the genetic code but still inside the body) and extrasomatic tools (outside the body) [SAGAN]. Since those tools can be used for the storage of information or the transmission of information, we can represent those four generations of media in the 2x2 matrix depicted in Figure 1. The story thus consistes of four chapters focussing respectively on those four generations of media.
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