I’m currently reading Neil Postman’s “Amusing Ourselves To Death”, a study of the way different media affect the values imposed on our cultural conversation. The early chapters detail the shift in values from and oral tradition to a print one – from an academic and legal system based on proverb and parable, holding good rhetoric as an indicator of the correctness of one’s arguments to what Robert Anton Wilson might call a time-binding culture, prizing the written word as more considered, and therefore of more value than the spoken.
The fact that our legal system is a mix of both, of course, is not lost on me, with my jury service coming up…
Postman’s book is moving toward a consideration of the effect of television on our cultural dialogue, and the way it has placed greater emphasis on how one looks determining the worth of what one has to say, but I haven’t got to that bit in depth yet.
Still, it set me to thinking. The book is getting on for twenty years old (and still set as a text on media courses, which speaks well for it) but has anyone undertaken anything similar with regard to the internet?
As a medium, it seems to me to have properties of both print and TV, and even oral tradition. It can be as ephemeral as TV or as long lasting as print, and can spread information in ways that have more in common with oral tradition than anything else. Anyone know if there’s a good book about this sort of thing?