Disclaimer to my followers: This post is actually an essay for my Publishing class. It has to do with the shift in our culture from being "print" oriented to "digitally" oriented and it was extremely interesting to research and write.
The movement from personal, face-to-face communication, where the only method of passing a message along was delivering it directly into the hand of the recipient, to the onset of print and widespread publishing through the internet can be considered a reversal of what is occurring in our modern world today. The universality of the internet and technology has found ways to revert from that broad, epic scale of usage back to that face-to-face communication in a sense. With webpages like Myspace and Facebook, messaging services like MSN Messenger and Twitter and video phone calls like Skype and FaceTime, we have found a way to connect on a deeper level once again. To rein in the feeling of disconnect we can sometimes feel within the internet. To also build meaningful relationships online, but to carry them over to the offline world as well, Carrie Rich mentions in her article,”The Power of Building Offline Connections in a DigitalWorld.”
The emergence of the internet in a predominantly printed world created access to a larger basis of knowledge that we hadn’t seen yet in libraries or other places of shared knowledge. The World Wide Web opened up and forced people to interact with this “New International Information Order”, as Randy Kluver writes in “Globalization, Information, and Intercultural Communication.” We truly emerged into the “information age” when computers became a common household occurrence. Previously, it was the brick-like Encyclopedia Britannica that occupied homes, being the easiest resource to have at hand, despite how large and cumbersome they were. As the Encyclopedia slowly but surely became sourced out by computers, even being replaced by Wikipedia, people weren’t confined to what was only printed in the book. This doesn’t strictly include the internet, however, but any piece of technology that deals in the transfer of information, Kluver says. With this newfound knowledge, we had more and more opportunities to connect and new ways to do it.
With this new access to a world wide connection of information, Robert Darnton looks back in “The Library in the New Age” at the four separate stages that human communication has gone through, the first being something we consider extremely simple today: humans learning to write. With this leap into the future, the second stage was possible. The creation of reading not in scroll format but in a codex, Darnton claims it “transformed the experience of reading”. With the invention of the Gutenberg Press in the fourteen hundreds, the third stage of communication emerged and allowed the “reading public” to grow consistently larger. The fourth and most current stage of human communication is still occurring around us, electronic communication. The electronic form of communication allowed a wider audience not only to learn more, but it pushed more and more people to publish something in their own right. Erin Kissane writes in “Contents May Have Shifted” that “as the web has matured and our browsing devices have proliferated”, what people publish is also changing. The internet in a general sense can be used by anyone, for anything. For example, it can result in anyone who wrote a book being able to publish it. Looking at the world wide phenomenon of Fifty Shades of Grey as an example, as cringe worthy as it is, is the perfect example of the internet as a connective tool. The book began as “fan fiction” for a more popular novel, but it was posted on a website and gained a following and fan base all over the world. E.L James, the author, was able to market her book through the use of social media and it made her into one of the best selling authors of all time.
With the social aspect of the internet firmly embedding itself in our life, we have that chance to connect more fully than we did when people relied strictly on written letters. “A lonely writer can be connected to a whole range of humanity without ever leaving her desk chair”, writes Dani Shapiro in “A Memoir Is Not A Status Update.” Our relationship with literature has changed because our relationship with authors and publishers have changed; “the audience and author become conversant sooner”, Craig Mod writes in “Post-Artifact Books.” Furthering the notion of “social media” and pushing users to connect more, especially with the people with whom we have a connection already, such as an author and their readership.
The epic shift from a print based culture to a digitally based culture hasn’t just opened up access to more knowledge than we would ever know what to do with; it has created a way for humans to connect, interact and learn from each other in a way that is reminiscent of the earliest forms of communication. It has allowed us to talk to someone while looking at their face from across the world, bringing the face-to-face connection offline to online and back again. That connection and accessibility has flourished, prompting newer and brighter ways to connect, and that is something that print alone never could have accomplished.
Darnton, Robert. “The Library In The New Age.” The New York Review of Books. New York Books. June 12 2008. Online. February 10 2015.
Kissane, Erin. “Contents May Have Shifted.” Contents Magazine. n.p. n.d. Online. February 10 2015.
Kluver, Randy. “Globalization, Information, and Intercultural Communication.” American Journal of Communication. n.p. June 2000. Online. February 10 2015.
Mod, Craig. “Post- Artifact Books and Publishing.” n.p. July 2011. Online. February 10 2015.
Rich, Carrie. “The Power of Building Offline Connections in a DigitalWorld.” Entrepreneur.n.p. October 1 2014. Online. February 10 2015.
Shapiro, Dani. “A Memoir is Not a Status Update.” The New Yorker. n.p. August 18 2014. Online. February 10 2015.