On Media and the Internet.
Part two: How the Web Harms Democracy

          The American stake in literacy as a technology           or uniformity applied to every level of education,           government, industry, and social life is totally           threatened by the electric technology. The threat           of Stalin or Hitler was external. The electric           technology is within the gates, and we are numb,           deaf, dumb, and blind about it's encounter with           the Gutenberg technology, on and through which           the American way of life was formed.                             Marshall Mcluhan 1964                             Understanding Media                  Before the invention of the printing press books were few and hard to come by. They were usually read aloud to a group and everyone in  that group shared the same experience. With the advent of Gutenburg's  printing press books and eventually newspapers became available to  almost everyone. Reading became an individual experience and the  concept of individualism grew as the new print technology spread  around the world. Soon a new form of society emerged based on the  individual, the Democracy.       In 1844 the first electronic text, the telegraph, changed the press in that news was available from all over the world with just a few clicks of a telegraph key. Thus was born the "headline", which mimicked the telegraph message with it's brevity and non sentence structure and with the headline began hype.      With the twentieth century came more and faster forms of mass communication, shrinking the planet into a global village and making mankind more tribalistic. The invention of radio became a tribal drum in the 1930's. Countries with strong tribal or feudal histories, Germany, Italy, Spain and Japan became Fascist and barbaric while   America, England and others with our high literacy rates were mostly immune to radio's negative effects.       Since radio there have been more and faster forms of mass communication and technologies. Each has changed our world and made it more like a village and individuals, of the caliber found at  the dawn of the Gutenberg revolution, are quickly being lost in mankind's' new electronic collective consciousness.      In the last few years the emergence of the World Wide Web has created an information source that other media are hard pressed to compete against. Anyone can put up a Web page and provide the world with a wealth of information, sometimes in complete disregard for the truth. As a result the worlds' news media has to rush information to the public in order to compete. More and more often without waiting until the facts are in.        Freedom without responsibility is not being free it is being wild. In trying to provide instant news today's press is abandoning its' responsibility of providing the factual information so crucial to a democracy.       You cannot understand media without Marshall McLuhan any more than you can understand space-time without Einstein. Prof. McLuhan  passed away before the dawn of the cyberspace continuum but upon hearing about the first instance of Electric writing (printing text in light on a screen) he had these words in his book, "Understanding Media".         The alphabet (and its extension into typography)         made possible the spread of power that is know-         ledge, and shattered the bonds of tribal man, thus         exploding him into an agglomeration of individuals.         Electric writing and speed pour upon him, instan-         taneously and continuously, the concerns of all other         men. He becomes tribal once more. The human family         becomes tribal again.             


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