Comparing old to new media

New media has a spellbinding effect on us. It has no comparison that allows us to be conscious of what does to us. The new media takes effect out of our control. It transforms cultures, institutions and economies effortlessly. Printing presses did this. Railroads, automobiles and airplanes took effect this way. Telegraph, telephones and cell phones invaded the status quo without anyone's permission. Film, television and 3-D games enchant us in disruptive ways too.

While new media have no comparison to make us conscious, they provide a comparison for the old media. We can suddenly see what we were doing to ourselves, the spell we were under and the assumptions we embraced unconsciously. Here's some of the old media we now have a way to compare and become conscious of its effects:

  • We now have tools for manipulating digital content that expose the limitations of ink on paper for anyone of actively writing, quoting, linking and tagging text.
  • We now have "publish this" buttons in our web site, blog and wiki software that let us see the restricted pipeline of literary agents, acquisition editors, publishing houses, publication page limitations and magazine/book sellers shelf space.
  • We now can teleport to gatherings in Second Life and wonder why spend the time, pay for the lodging, and burn the fuel to do F2F in Real Life.
  • We're learning by experimentation by playing MMORPG's, adopting new technologies and using the latest software - how formal instruction has the effect of controlling choices, disempowering learners and disrespecting self-direction.
  • We can compare our pervasive ideal of demonstrating what we learned by "putting it into words" (print literacy) as foregoing the demonstrations of learning by "putting it into action" (game play literacy) and "putting it into pictures" (iconic literacy).
  • We can question the sanity of imposed curricula, required content, and factory models of education -- now that they are getting compared to the functioning of free lancers, cultural creatives and collaborative customers.
  • We can challenge the use of bloated bureaucracies that dish out diplomas to four year students -- now that we are experiencing continual job changing and life-long learning that set new standards.

The obsolete media will fall by the wayside. Their premises will stop making sense to everyone enchanted by the new media. Their harmful effects will be transparently obvious to everyone. We'll only indulge in those old media for nostalgia, personal amusement and low-functional pursuits.

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