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For closely twenty years, people have assumed of “new media” as the impetuous young social climber and “old media” as the unshakable if increasingly embattled setting up. Tom Standage argues the following: What if new media is not as new as we think; and old media not actually old at all? It is a thought-provoking book that requests us to study media less in terms of technology (digital or analog?); than in terms of the purpose they request us to perform. Are we inactive receptors for at all facts, ideas and advertisement messages come our way? Otherwise are we members, sharing what we like with others, modifying or pointing out in the process? The other is specific of the Internet in overall and social media in specific. According to Standage, there is nothing radical about this; instead, it is the role of user, so classic of 20th century mass media, that is unusual; but according to Standage, a historical glitch.

Nowadays we equate media with multinationals and tycoons, for instance, Time Warner, Viacom and Rupert. However, far more typical in media times past may have been Cic­ero, who similar to other noble Romans acquired his news on papyrus rolls, which were copied, interpreted and delivered from one person to another. Books, speeches, and even personal letters were recited aloud by slaves and directed on to groups and colleagues. This sharing system made first media social; by distribution in this technique, folks were able to do what persons do in such circumstances, which are, wave their interests, outline their personas and reinforce their connections with others.

Learning fell with the Roman Empire. Notwithstanding but the ecclesiastical leading, media took a millennium break. Not until the beginning of the printing press did folks have much motive to read over. After they did, Standage states, their behavior regressed to that of the early Romans. Sharing socially could yield electrifying outcome. For example, the 95 Theses Martin Luther displayed on his church door, printed and distributed from hand to hand, spread quickly across Germany and within thirty days was recognized across Europe. After two and a half centuries, Thomas Paine’s provocative anti-British pamphlet known as “Common Sense” flowed through the American colonies in greatly the same way. People recited it aloud in inns and coffeehouses; they argued incognito in newspapers. While it was printed in January 1776, liberation was all but improbable; on July 4 it was stated.

The 18th-century publications, which served as Paine’s debate, filled as they were with confrontational essays, comments from readers and news copied from other cradles, were more similar to blogs than whatever we would identify nowadays as newspapers. However, that began to transform with the Industrial Revolution. In the year 1833, merely as high-capacity, the steam-powered printing the media were coming on the prospect, a young printer called Benjamin Day initiated The New York Sun that sold for a penny at a period when other newspapers sold for six cents. By way Standage describes, Day’s system could function only if the newspaper fascinated a lot of paid publicity, and publicists would emanate only if they could be assured a big market share. So he employed reporters; a comparatively novel notion at the period — who wrote loud crime news and captivating stories about mortals on the moon. Booklovers came, and with them advertisements for all from sweepstakes to abortionists to patent drugs. Further reporters were employed, generating additional shocking versions that would send transmission even higher, creating the newspaper even more desired to publicists. Achievement brought copycats, and as it did the purpose of the media changed. After a quasi-open podium for conversation and discussion, it became an opening for advertisements and broadcasting. Booklovers, once a communal, became a market.

The transformation happened even quicker with television and radio. Standage offers us a captivating account of the initial days of radio, after a large amount of teenage hobbyists made the new media as the occasion for an easygoing chat; until they were hushed by commercial forces and criticisms of belligerent behavior. The query is what now? Since Benjamin Day straight on, current mass media were founded by innovative young people, several of whom shared a democratic vision of themselves as knowledge diffusers. Some, like the initial radio hobbyists, also saw a probable in technology for shortest human linking. Then they were hushed. May perhaps the Internet come across the same fate? The writer notes with alarm that large social-media podia like Facebook and Twitter are also centralized, in a manner that e-mail and blogs are not. However, there is a challenge with this similarity: The large social-media outfits utility as fact exchanges, not as editors. They might give up users for their information, but then they can no more afford to hush those consumers than a telephone corporation can cut off its users. The real menace to the Internet would appear to be from states and copyright owners, which have frequently sought to confine its usage through combating piracy. However, Standage discourses the first only concisely and the subsequent not at all.

At the time there is the response against social media. The writer quotes a laundry list of criticisms, from time misused to the deprivation of personal relations that purportedly happens as the virtual displaces the actual. In “Alone Together,” the author howls a technology-induced flight from dialog; in “Hamlet’s BlackBerry,” the author advocates, somewhat oddly, that families combat segregation by viewing television together. Unluckily, Standage’s contradiction does not course far beyond such flat annotations as, “New technologies are regularly observed with doubt.” He records that people have endured the telegraph, regardless of the 1891 screed in The Atlantic Monthly criticizing the “frantic haste” it conveyed to their lives. Nonetheless, he marks no reference of The Atlantic’s more current spasm on social media, a typical of the category termed as “Is Facebook Making Us Lonely” Neither of Jaron Lanier, the erstwhile virtual veracity inventor whose more cognizant hints of dystopia make this kind of thing seem naïve.

Also as Standage reflects social media on his own terms, he can be somewhat short on awareness. He presents them in disagreement to one-way propagation but miss the mark to note the level to which Facebook and the like are really becoming an addition of mass media, rotating much of print and television into a discussion. However, Standage marks a crucial opinion: Social media, whether of the preindustrial assortment or digital, fill a worldwide human necessity for connectedness, for sharing of information, and for self-­expression. This necessity is as old as language itself that proposes, if nothing else, that sustaining it digitally would not leave us emotionally crippled in the end.





Works Cited

Standage, Tom. Writing On The Wall: Social Media—The First 2,000 Years. Bloomsbury USA, 2013. Print.


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