“Muse on Gutenberg”

I’m posting the comment to my last post here because it deserves to be highlighted and available to those who only read this blog through an aggregator. The author [you could include your name, even though I have an idea] explains the key issues in our electric/internet era in a much better fashion than I can. When we had our CSTD breakfast meeting today, explosive change of this type did not even register with most participants. We spend too much time looking into the rear view mirror.

If you can’t decrypt the following, then start with McLuhan for Managers.:

muse on gutenberg
Submitted by Visitor on Tue, 17/05/2005 – 02:36.

Agree, the “printed word is already being pushed aside by the likes of IM”. IM is called ‘chat’ essentially because it mimics ‘speech’ afforded by instant electric interaction, not printed text. The medium of IM is ‘electric speech’ as an effect, not text.

‘The Daily Telegraph’ newspaper, conversely, tried to reclaim text as its ‘medium as message’ by appropriating the instant effect of reportage enabled by the electric telegraph.

What’s happening therefore is an erosion of the alphabet into orality because electric communication in its effect is speech-based (audio-tactile), not print-based. Hypertext is non-linear and speech-based (acoustic) because linear space as a ‘print-based’ narrative can be circumvented with every hyper-link. We’re not required (forced) to follow narrative from word to sentence, paragraph, page, chapter, etc. anymore, as was the case for 500 years. Just bookmark it, if anything.

As a result, as McLuhan said, the ‘user is the content’ driven by the users purpose for learning–context dependent on their sophistication, intentions, needs, capabilities, desires, etc.

Their lived ‘context’ subverts mere text. Context as scope, depth, relation, pattern, process, tangent, association, bridge, etc. are spatial, non-linear, non-Euclidean metaphors. Effect and cause collapse together with instant time and space. Real-time communication therefore is speech-based and aural–timeless, always floating in the present tense, so ideas have to be bounced.

‘Bounced’ back and forth communication in IM requires repetition, resonance, the structure of lyrics and poetics, in order to get something across Learning from the rappers, IM becomes more and more acronym RAP (brb). Rhythm is repetition, repetition, repetition…’read my lips’. Rhythm is tribal. Yet IM itself is be replaced by video chat just as blogs are being replaced (subsumed) by video-blogs. The bell tolls for print.

The tragedy of Gutenberg resulted from the German Protestant bible competing against the Christian latin, the infamous Reformation. A time of nasty inquisition. The effect was that the Renaissance (Church) got replaced by the Enlightenment (State), pushing rationalism further known as Modernism, Objectivism, Formalism, Realism, Socialism, blah, blah, most of the ‘isms’.

Now, linear education has been reversing (imploding) since the telegraph, ushering in post-structural and postmodern (just used to be called, rhetoric)–in painting, Dadism, Surrealism, and in music, all that dissonance and jazz. And, non-linear narratives become (one liners) staged improv (Bush-isms).

Now, Cartesian sciences have little hope of probability against non-linear narratives unless they teach ‘method’ to save face during their ‘culture wars’. That is, method is first show as constructed for objectivity (sorry Plato)–a centimeter is a usefully contrived unit of space, not an intrinsic eternal form.

As non-linear modes of perception become more and more prevalent to subsume linear print ‘concept-based’ text, science is forced to become more and more multidisciplinary (i.e., accountable to its methods, not extoll its contrived objectivity). We don’t need to globalize. We can internationalize, instead… ecologies subsume boundaries.

Because the ground keeps moving… IM is speech-based or percept-based media so our speedy typed texts are basically concepts fast parsing into speech-based thinking. Speech is Q&A, interactive, dialogic, fluid and interpretive, not definitive like your everyday print-based dictionaries. Dynamic flux not static statements create persuasion–action. Verbal contracts replace written. Networked relationships superimpose individuals. In short, Clark might well quip in, say, less than 10 years, the ‘tragedy’ of non-linear video and speech”, pushing poor old linear Gutenburg out the pixel.

It’s a dangerous time. The orals versus the prints (arts vs. sciences)–we’ll need a graphical operating system about now… not just cute Penguins. Balancing linear and non-linear depends on the balance of competing mediums (i.e., multimedia/convergence).

So the real battlefield will be information or knowledge design–the competition between written print, image and sound/speech. The content providers trying to construct meaning interaction is coming to everyone’s multimedia desktop, as a basic skill set, not just the 3R’s

McLuhan saw the need to see this shift as a civil imperative–to ‘perceive the grammar of communication’. If we confused message as medium, we’ll drown in violence from media fallout (PAX American). The medium is unconscious (i.e., seeing the word at the expense of the alphabet). The printed alphabet created linearity. Gutenburg just pushed it upon us faster using his 15th century xerox. Now we need him back before we dump narrative (keyboard) overboard with Dragon Naturally Speaking. That’s a tough challenge, ahead, to master the matrix…

As we ponder how to tinker with the ADDIE instructional design model, developed to train soldiers for WWII, the real issue is what are we going to do in the post-print world that is fast approaching. I think it’s time to master more of the non-linear and non-literate media (e.g. Flickr & podcasting)

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