- POPULAR CULTURE
- MENTAL HEALTH
- PHYSICAL SCIENCES
- BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES
- APPLIED SCIENCES
- PRINT & MEDIA
A QUOTE TO NOTE
"Trying to determine what is going on in the world by reading the newspaper is like trying to tell the time by watching the second hand of a clock,"-Ben Hecht(1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist, & novelist. Called "The Shakespeare of Hollywood", he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films. As a prolific storyteller, he authored thirty-five books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America.
MILLIONS OF READERS
I have now written & published 100s of online pieces at 1000s of internet sites. These online sites include: newspapers, magazines, journals, e/book pages, message boards as well as static, dynamic & multi-tiered sites. All these different areas, types of media and sites, support the main activity of the user, this user. I a writer & author, poet & publisher, online blogger & online journalist, editor & researcher, reader & scholar. These many forms of media to which I have referred implement the free-flowing web of information. I take advantage of each of them, each form of online communication, within the limits of my time and circumstance. The advantage of what is known as "a multi-tier website" is that it can combine different types of web pages in a layered fashion. That is, the pages can be dynamically created, then stored as static pages. This allows people to access either the fixed or the dynamic set of pages, depending on the functionality, the purpose, of their accessing the site in question. Readers do not need to concern themselves with these several forms, several ways, of creating webpages and websites unless, of course, they have their own website and they want to increase its functionality and dynamism.
One example of this more advanced type of website is as follows: a web site that allows pages to be edited has the dynamic site available for both read and write access. This same website keeps an up-to-date set of static web pages and this allows most people access for reading only. This allows people to read what is known as 'read-access' at all times, even when the dynamic site is having problems or is being updated. This is applicable to all web sites that use 'dynamic-generation' for web pages. This can be very useful to those who want to ensure reliability of information. The differences between the different types of web page are discussed at this link, FYI:http://www.yedit.com/document-management-collaboration/314-types-of-web-publishing.html
Didacticism, a general instructional or teaching tone and style, has been more acceptable in journalism's cultural pages because of the belief that arts and culture have formative & humanizing powers. Didacticism is all over cyberspace. Cyberspace is filled with all manner of stuff, of which journalistic didacticism is but one. An informative, a quasi-teaching tone, has been prevalent among cultural reporters and critics for many a long year, indeed for centuries. It is certainly acceptable to me, and it has been part of my MO for at least the 19 years during which I've had a website. I offer my journalistic wares not only at my website, but in literally 1000s of forums and message boards, websites and discussion places. I do this in many ways: (i) in short and pithy Facebook-type posts, (ii) in short, medium and lengthy paragraphs, (iii) in single A-4 and A-3 pages, and (iv) by the 10s, the 100s, indeed, the 1000s, of pages.
PAPER TO DIGITAL MEDIA
Until quite recently, paper played a crucial role in the composition, and transmission to posterity, of most poems in English: they were written down on paper, or antecedents such as parchment or vellum, or typed on it, and then printed in pamphlets, newspapers, magazines or books. Computers and digitisation have changed all that: the poemhunter.com version of ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ that floats on our screens may reproduce exactly the same words as printed editions of Keats, but while reading it we are no longer engaging with a material object that is linked to a series of earlier material versions of the poem, all deriving from the impress of pencil, pen or type on paper. Until more research has been done on the life-cycle and environmental impact of electronics, pitting paper and e-media against each other is somewhat futile. It doesn't need to be an "either or" situation. There is a place for both paper and e-media. The ideal situation is that we use both electronic and print media in a way that meets our social and environmental and economic needs. For more on this issue go to: http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/digital-really-greener-paper-marketing
Digitizing or digitization is the representation of anobject, image, sound, document or a signal (usually ananalog signal) by a discrete set of its points or samples. The result is called digital representation or, more specifically, a digital image, for the object, and digital form, for the signal. For a useful overview of this subject go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digitizing Digitisation has inspired all manner of new approaches to materiality, which over the last 2 decades, say, 1996 to 2015, has developed into a boom subject in academic criticism; at the click of a mouse one can access the various different holograph versions of, say, Emily Dickinson’s ‘Safe in their alabaster chambers’, one of the ten poems – she wrote nearly 1800 – which found its way into print in her lifetime. For a review in the London Review of Books(19 June 2014) that places this subject in context go to: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n12/mark-ford/pomenvylopes This is a review of: (i) The Gorgeous Nothings by Emily Dickinson (New Directions, 250 pages, 2013); and (ii) The Marvel of Biographical Bookkeeping by Francis Nenik, translated by Katy Derbyshire(Readux, 60 pages, 2014).
A website, also written as web site, or simply site, is a set of related web pages typically served from a single web domain. My website is hosted on Define Studio. Its website is at: http://definestudiodesign.com/ In 2010-2011 Define Studio produced for me a unique and innovative website. It was and is the 4th edition of my website, a website which first went online in 1997. The design & development team at Define Studio is a one stop source in Sydney, Australia which focuses on defining and building the website needs & aspirations of clients through web design, graphic design & print. The corporate, personal and interpersonal world is a sea of competition; my "brand image," as Define Studio sometimes refers to the image my site creates, is an intangible asset that differentiates me and my online work from others. Define Studio are experts in the art of creating a unique brand fingerprint to set their clients apart from the pack and ensure their logo is recognisable & their website receives high traffic.
Five years ago I was looking for a modern, new design to re-brand my online writing. Define Studio offered the utmost in creativity & service. They have been reliable and trustworthy. They have helped me achieve the best quality from my work in the last five years. This web server is accessible via the Internet, although it can also be accessed via a private local area network through an Internet address known as a uniform resource locator (URL). All publicly accessible websites collectively constitute the World Wide Web.
Web pages, which are the building blocks of websites, are documents, typically written in plain text interspersed with formatting instructions of Hypertext Markup Language: HTML, XHTML. They may incorporate elements from other websites with suitable markup anchors. Webpages are accessed & transported with Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP). The HTTP may optionally employ encryption (HTTP Secure, HTTPS) to provide security and privacy for the user of the webpage content. The user's application, often a web browser, renders the page content according to its HTML markup instructions onto a display terminal. Those readers with an interest in the fine points of just how a website is organized and how it works, as well as the technology of websites can read more at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Website
The following is a list of the 100 most popular websites worldwide according to Alexa Internet as of March 26, 2015 and those sites' corresponding rankings on SimilarWeb as of March 16, 2015: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most_popular_websites The School of Life is one website, one organization, which has proved useful to me in my online writing and publishing. It is not affiliated to any religious, educational, charitable or other organisations. It declares itself to be a place ‘free from dogma’, where participants are ‘directed towards a variety of ideas—from philosophy to literature, psychology to the visual arts—that tickle, exercise and expand your mind’ and where participants can 'meet other curious, sociable and open-minded people in an atmosphere of exploration and enjoyment'.
The School of Life is an organisation founded in 2008 and based in branches in: Melbourne, Paris, Amsterdam, Belgrade, Antwerp, Istanbul and London. The School offers a variety of programmes & services concerned with how to live wisely and well: finding fulfilling work, mastering relationships, achieving calm, understanding and changing the world, and much else. The School also offers psychotherapy and bibliotherapy services and runs small shops which have been described as 'apothecaries for the mind'. For more on this organization go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Life
MONOPOLIES AND OLIGOPOLIES
The entire world is modern man's village, although he cannot at a glance see even a millionth of this 'global village', the people in it or the activities going on. Thanks to the several audio and visual technologies of the last century, though, he can hear and see the world in ways not available in any previous century. Thanks to these same technologies, though, modern man can hate a person he has never talked to or seen face-to-face. He can be saddened because of a tragedy which has happened to someone else he has never met, and in a place he has never been. He can experience love, hate, joy or sadness without having ever experienced its stimulus; he can be persuaded by political leaders he has never met to give up his life for reasons he has never considered or perhaps been allowed to consider. More recently, this has often occurred in the recruiting programs of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant(ISIL), also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). ISIS is also known by the Arabic acronym Daʿish or DAESH, and by the self-proclaimed title of the Islamic State (IS).
People in cyberspace can also be persuaded to buy a product they do not need, a product attested to by someone they have never met. Modern man, unlike primitive man who experienced all important life activities directly through interpersonal communication, depends on mass communication technology, or electrology, for a picture of what is important in his world. For the rest of this article "Monopolies and Oligopolies of the Media" by Bryan Beatty of Humber College in the Canadian Journal of Communication, Vol.3, No.4(1977) go to:http://www.cjc-online.ca/index.php/journal/article/viewFile/162/68
INTRODUCTION: SOME DEFINITIONS AND DESCRIPTIONS
Electronic media are media that use electronics or electromechanical energy for the end-user, the audience, to access the content. This is in contrast to static media, mainly print media, which today are most often created electronically, but don't require electronics to be accessed by the end-user in the printed form. The primary electronic media sources familiar to the general public are: video recordings, audio recordings, multimedia presentations, slide presentations, CD-ROM which is a compact disk that is used with a computer; a large amount of digital information can be stored and accessed but it cannot be altered by the user. Online content, the entire internet, falls into this category. Most new media are in the form of digital media. However, electronic media may be in either analog or digital format. Although the term is usually associated with content recorded on a storage medium, recordings are not required for live broadcasting and online networking. Any equipment used in the electronic communication process; for example, television, radio, telephone, desktop computer, game console, or handheld device, may also be considered electronic media.
Digital Media defines how content is represented, as a referential copy or original software generated asset, compared to original organic objects whose components are not sampled or created using software or electronic devices. Digital media often refers to a format or series of formats used for the dissemination of information via an electronic device, network protocol or electronic storage medium. Digital media assets can either be originally created using computer software or captured/digitized from analog sources. A flatbed scanner, digital still camera and digital video camera are examples of devices which can be used to capture analog content. Some examples include: a printed document, an outdoor scene, a child’s birthday party, respectively. This makes a digital representation of the original subject or matter. Digital media can be differentiated from computational computer data by its content structure and usage. Digital media assets are normally created or captured for reproduction and storage, public and private display, entertainment, aesthetics, or to retain a record of an event, idea or concept. The method of storage, as a digital file or stream, further differentiates digital media from other reproductive forms such as paper, analog transmissions and oral histories – though these may be captured and stored as digital assets themselves.
New Media is a broad term in media studies that emerged in the later part of the 20th century. New media holds out a possibility of on-demand access to content any time, anywhere, on any digital device, as well as interactive user feedback, creative participation and community formation around the media content. Another important promise of New Media is the "democratization" of the creation, publishing, distribution & consumption of media content. What distinguishes new media from traditional media is the digitizing of content into bits. There is also a dynamic aspect of content production which can be done in real time, but these offerings lack standards and have yet to gain traction. Definitions, meanings and the technology itself has a complexity I don't want to deal with here, any more than I already have. I leave it to readers to learn about it in their own ways.
"Theorizing New Media in a Global Context" is an article in the electronic online journal ctheory.net by Soraya Murray. Soraya Murray is an Assistant Professor in Film and Digital Media, as well as a member of the faculty in the Digital Arts and New Media at the University of California at Santa Cruz.Her article opens with: "Advanced computational and communications technologies play a definitive role in today's global economic, social, cultural, political, and even ecological orders. Evidence of this exists in technologies used to implement the internationalization of management, in globally shifting labor pools, in transnational banking, and in other such signs of economic globalization. It lives as well in social, political, and cultural manifestations of globalization such as WikiLeaks and the social media-fueled Arab uprisings. New media art works that use these kinds of technologies stretch conventional definitions of art and present challenges for art history and criticism, owing largely to these technologies' military and industrial origins". For more go to:http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=713
The following article in the Digital Humanities Quarterly(V.5,N.3, 2011) considers the historically important role that new media have played in configuring not just articulations of humanist subjectivity in general (a now well-trodden field in literary and cultural studies), but also the humanist scholarly subject. By placing the institutional tensions between traditional scholarly practice and new media within larger theoretical & disciplinary contexts, we can demonstrate how new media challenges the ways in which the traditional humanities scholar has been imagined as having a secure and stable position within institutionalized hierarchies of knowledge production. Furthermore, we can consider how scholarly multimedia threatens the very coherence of humanities scholarship by insisting on the re-embodiment of scholarly activity. In this respect, this paper hopes to bring critiques of techno-scientific epistemologies coming out of new media and science studies to bear on humanities scholarship in order to follow through on Donna Haraway’s call for interventions into all forms of knowledge production: "Knowledge-making technologies, including crafting subject positions and ways of inhabiting such positions, must be made relentlessly visible and open to critical intervention." The analysis in this paper reveals the ways in which the production of scholarly multimedia has been hampered by two key obstacles: traditionalist definitions of humanities scholarship that still overwhelmingly determine the evaluation of digital works, and a narrow understanding of what the "materiality" of new media can actually come to mean. Both of these issues are examined by foregrounding some of the material and intellectual potentialities revealed by scholarly multimedia. For more go to: http://digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/5/3/000102/000102.html
4. Social Media
“Social media can be understood as a shift away from media oligarchy with its elite dominance & disunity. This is a shift from a media oligarchy in which the average person is almost exclusively the consumer of information, toward a media democracy with its emancipation & unity in diversity. This more democratic form of media results in a situation in which the average person also becomes, sometimes through their participation in syndication, the producers, purveyors, and publishers of information.” I thank Dr Mark Foster for this definition. Foster sees social media from the inclusive perspective of Structurization Theory™ which is a critical realist perspective. Critical realism is a philosophical approach associated with
Roy Bhaskar. It combines a general philosophy of science, a transcendental realist philosophy, with a philosophy of social science, a critical naturalist philosophy, to describe an interface between the natural and social worlds. For more on critical realism go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Critical_realism_(philosophy_of_the_social_sciences)
College students now spend, according to a recent survey, 10 hours a day on their phones. The average person unlocks their phone 110 times a day. Cellphones are making us more flakey. Our brains are experiencing some serious changes while immersed in technology. The Internet & social media provide immediate rewards which require little or no effort so your brain rewires itself in pursuit of these stimulations. Technology has even begun to rewire our nervous system! Why not take a year off from social media? Read more about how writer David Roberts spent a year signed out of Facebook and Twitter. There are now many sites, many articles, on the subject of the affect of social media on our lives. Go to: "Is Google Making Us Stupid?" at: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2008/07/is-google-making-us-stupid/306868/
Call someone a 'cyber-utopian' and it’s likely to be taken as an insult, according to leading media theorist Ethan Zuckerman. There are now many self-confessed cyber-utopians, though, of the digital variety who are out of the closet & proud! While cyber-utopianism, the idea that the internet is the ultimate empowering force, can get a little disconnected from reality, cyber-utopians say that’s what they like about it. Cyber-utopianism also involves the belief that online communication is in itself emancipatory. This new variety of utopian argues that the Internet favors the oppressed rather than the oppressor. This view has accompanied the Internet from its beginnings in the 1990s. This topic was the subject of critique by the Critical Art Ensemble as early as 1995 when my own Interne tlife was just beginning. While this somewhat romantic view of cyberspace was partially dented by the bursting of the Dot-com bubble, utopian views of the internet continued to re-invent themselves through the 1990s and 2000s. For more on this subject go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyber-utopianism
THE INTERNET: CONNECTING EVERYONE TO EVERYTHING
In a review in The New York Review of Books on 20/11/'14 entitled "The Creepy New Wave of the Internet" by Sue Halpern we read the following: "Welcome to the beginning of what is being touted as the Internet’s next wave by technologists, investment bankers, research organizations, and the companies that stand to rake in some of an estimated $14.4 trillion by 2022—what they call the Internet of Things (IoT). Cisco Systems, which is one of those companies, and whose CEO came up with that multitrillion-dollar figure, takes it a step further and calls this wave “the Internet of Everything,” which is both aspirational and telling. The writer and social thinker Jeremy Rifkin, whose consulting firm is working with businesses and governments to hurry this new wave along, describes it like this:
"The Internet of Things will connect every thing with everyone in an integrated global network. People, machines, natural resources, production lines, logistics networks, consumption habits, recycling flows, and virtually every other aspect of economic and social life will be linked via sensors and software to the IoT platform, continually feeding Big Data to every node—businesses, homes, vehicles—moment to moment, in real time. Big Data, in turn, will be processed with advanced analytics, transformed into predictive algorithms, & programmed into automated systems to improve thermodynamic efficiencies, dramatically increase productivity, and reduce the marginal cost of producing and delivering a full range of goods and services to near zero across the entire economy."
For more of this review of: (i) The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin(Palgrave Macmillan, 350 pages); (ii) Enchanted Objects: Design, Human Desire, and the Internet of Things by David Rose(Scribner, 300 pages); (iii) Age of Context: Mobile, Sensors, Data and the Future of Privacy by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel, with a foreword by Marc Benioff(Patrick Brewster, 250 pages); and (iv) More Awesome Than Money: Four Boys and Their Heroic Quest to Save Your Privacy from Facebook by Jim Dwyer(Viking, 400 pages)...go to:http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/nov/20/creepy-new-wave-internet/?insrc=toc
In Rifkin’s estimation, all this connectivity will bring on the “Third Industrial Revolution,” poised as he believes it is to not merely redefine our relationship to machines and their relationship to one another, but to overtake and overthrow capitalism once the efficiencies of the Internet of Things undermine the market system, dropping the cost of producing goods to, basically, nothing. His recent book, The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism, is a paean to this coming epoch.....the number of autonomous Internet-connected devices such as cell phones—devices that communicate directly with one another—now doubles every five years, growing from 12.5 billion in 2010 to an estimated 25 billion next year and 50 billion by 2020......Recent revelations from the journalist Glenn Greenwald put the number of Americans under government surveillance at a colossal 1.2 million people. Once the Internet of Things is in place, that number might easily expand to include everyone else, because a system that can remind you to stop at the market for dessert is a system that knows who you are and where you are and what you’ve been doing and with whom you’ve been doing it.....
FACEBOOK AND SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES(SNS)
The electronic online journal CULTURE MACHINE, Vol 13, No.1, had an article in a 2012 issue entitled: "Friends Like Mine: the Production of Socialized Subjectivity in the Attention Economy." The article was by Martyn Thayne. The article had a level of abstration and social science terminology that may put readers off but, given the emerging significance of SNS, it's worth a shot by readers here who have an interest in such a subject. The article begins as follows with the following sub-heading: "The Value of Facebook":
Over the last decade, online social networking services (SNS) have emerged as multi-million dollar companies, with substantial investment into digital media platforms reflecting the global popularity of this mode of communication. The most significant in money terms is the recent outlay of $500m from Goldman Sachs and Digital Sky Technologies is a deal valuing Facebook at a reported $50-75bn. Furthermore, Facebook recently filed its intentions with the US Securities and Exchange commission ‘to go public’ by seeking an additional $5bn of investment in stocks. This article interrogates why Facebook & its assets, which represent an extended database of personal information, social relations and consumption habits, have been valued so highly. The scale of this speculative value has recently become clear, with Facebook publishing revenues of $3711m for 2011 according to The Guardian, 2012.
It appears that companies from across the globe are increasingly turning to Facebook in order to tap into this wealth of user data, with a massive 85% of this revenue being generated from advertising. Given that the advertising interface includes a number of parameters which marketers can use to directly target the most relevant users for their products, all content generated on Facebook (as well as those sites and services which include Facebook plug-in applications) can become financially beneficial. Go to this link for the rest of this article:
THE AGE OF PAPER
Lothar Müller’s book White Magic: The Age of Paper(Polity, 2015, 300 pages) is a study of the invention that more than any other made possible the universal drive for literacy and standardization: paper. As Müller shows, from the earliest times, every advance in the technologies for producing paper and covering it with words, signs, and images always brought with it the fear that what had been created might prove more a monster than a convenience. “The evils that paper caused in various phases of the French Revolution,” wrote Louis-Sébastien Mercier, describing the vast increase in newspaper publication in revolutionary Paris, “are such that one might wish it had never been invented.”
In the 19th century, Carlyle, Dickens, & Balzac all saw civilization sinking under the weight of a vast overproduction of paper, the bureaucracy and journalism that went with it. Melville feared the very whiteness and blankness of modern, mass-produced paper in much the same way he feared the whiteness of the whale. The mind’s appetite for a space it can fill, our apparent inability to resist the invitation of the empty page, determine a process that finally leads to the electronic screen I am typing into now, a writing space that is both the apotheosis and the overcoming of the paper page. It is impossible to tell the story of civilization without it. For more go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/aug/13/paper-most-influential-invention/
THE STUDY OF THE NEWSPAPER
Students used to do a study of the newspaper in school. Until the 21st century that study had fairly standard parameters within the wide range of curricula across western society. The Y-generation, also known as the Millennial Generation, has no precise dates for when it starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates from the later 1970s, or the early 1980s to the early 2000s. That Y-generation and the X- generation before them, the baby boomers and the war babies born between 1939 and 1945, they all had their study of the newspaper. Students in primary and secondary schools in these early years of the 21st century are experiencing quite a different unit for the study of the newspaper at least in some schools and, for the most part, in first world countries.
I taught the study of the newspaper in the 1970s and again in the 1990s as part of media studies programs at Colleges of Advanced Education and Technical and Further Education(Tafe) Colleges in Australia. My first memories of reading newspapers, or parts thereof, go back to about 1950 when I looked at, but could hardly say I read, The Burlington Gazette and The Hamilton Spectator. These were newspapers in towns found in a part of southern Ontario known as the Golden Horseshoe. At the time I was six, seven or eight years old. I virtually stopped reading newspapers in the first years of the 21st century. More than half a century after first reading "the paper", I had also stopped applying for jobs. The internet began to have newspapers "online," as they say. Millions of others stopped reading newspapers, and the study of newspapers began to take a very different form in the 21st century.
In the 19 years from 1997 to 2015: (i) as the internet came to have an increasingly dominant place in society and in my own life, and (ii) as my website went through 4 editions, the hard copy newspaper became less & less important to me. By the early years of the 21st century it had virtually disappeared from my daily experience. And so, too, had most hard copy magazines & journals, as well as most newsletters and most of the many genres of hard copy print. My print world had become an online world, but not entirely. I still read books in hard and soft cover.
It is not my purpose here to discuss the details of my half century of newspaper reading and browsing before 2001, when I used the newspaper to become more informed and entertained, to find jobs and find stuff to buy; nor do I intend to survey my reading of other types of printed matter since the start of my reading life in the middle of the 20th century. Occasionally, now, someone sends me an article from a newspaper, or they suggest I read some item in particular and, out of courtesy as much as anything, I read or skim the selection they have sent me electronically. After half a century of being given things to read by teachers and lecturers, students and friends, colleagues and associations of various kinds, I am happy now to choose my own material to read from what is an endless list of print that I chose myself. I have developed over several decades an inherent interest in a very wide range of subject matter. As I head, therefore, through the last decade(70 to 80) of late adulthood, the years from 60 to 80 in the lifespan according to some human development psychologists I can, if I wish, drown in print of my own choice. I have no need to read what others suggest I read as I did from, say, 1950 to 2000, and to an even lesser extent from 2000 to 2009 when I went on two old-age pensions at the age of 65.
In 2003 I began to collect information from and about newspapers around the world. The information was from: (a) newspapers which were coming online in the early years of this new millennium, and (b) a wide range of electronic journals about media studies, and journals about other subjects which were also coming online. I gradually came to have access to the best newspapers in the world which were slowly coming online each to their own extent. The electronic journals were also a wonderful enrichment to my understanding of the print and electronic media. The main problem was finding the time to read not only what was sent to me--which was thankfully decreasing as each year of my retirement rolled on from the age of 55 to 60, from 60 to 65, & from 65 to 70. The online newspapers and journals became impossible to read; I had to develop a high level of selectivity. Given the burgeoning nature of my reading tastes, and the burgeoning quantity of material available online, the task became, in some ways, quite impossible. As I say, I had to be selective, but this had always been the case at least since my five years at university when I was confronted with endless reading lists of books no human being could read in their entirety.
A BIG NEWSPAPER STORY
A. Keith Rupert Murdoch(1931-) is an Australian American business magnate. Murdoch became managing director of Australia's News Limited, inherited from his father, in 1952. He is the founder, Chairman and CEO of global media holding company News Corporation, the world's second-largest media conglomerate, and its successors News Corp & 21st Century Fox after the conglomerate split on 28 June 2013. For more on Murdoch go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rupert_Murdoch The story below is part of the Murdoch empire's world of stories. For convenience, I am going to begin in 2003, a dozen years ago. This story has now consumed 1000s of pages of print and 1000s of hours on the radio and television, and it has become a labyrinth. I begin the story when an Andy Coulson was appointed editor of the News of the World, the famous and infamous London Sunday newspaper. Andrew Edward Coulson(1968- ) is an English journalist and political strategist. In June 2014 he was found guilty of conspiracy to intercept voicemails. He was sentenced on 4 July 2014 to 18 months in prison. On 30 June 2014, it was announced that he would face a retrial over two counts of conspiring to cause misconduct in public office in relation to the alleged purchase of confidential royal phone directories in 2005 from a palace police officer, after the jury in the original trial was unable to reach a verdict on them.
B. In the middle of the last century, when I was just starting to read newspapers in about 1950, the newspaper News of the World was the best-selling paper on earth. The News of the World was a national red top newspaper published in the United Kingdom from 1843 to 2011. Even when it closed it was still one of the highest English language circulations. It was originally established as a broadsheet by John Browne Bell, who identified crime, sensation and vice as the themes that would sell copies. The Bells sold to Henry Lascelles Carr in 1891; in 1969 it was bought from the Carrs by Rupert Murdoch's media firm News Limited. Reorganised into News International, itself a subsidiary of News Corporation, it was transformed into a tabloid in 1984 and became the Sunday sister paper of The Sun. The newspaper concentrated on celebrity-based scoops and populist news. Its fondness for sex scandals gained it the nicknames News of the Screws and Screws of the World. It had a reputation for exposing national or local celebrities' drug use, sexual peccadilloes, or criminal acts, setting up insiders and journalists in disguise to provide either video or photographic evidence, andphone hacking in ongoing police investigations. Sales averaged 2,812,005 copies per week in October 2010. Winston Churchill wrote regularly in its pages; it is mentioned in passing by Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and Evelyn Waugh. Its staple had always been salacious court reports and the like, feeding a characteristically English taste of genteel prurience. It had become much nastier and more brutal in recent decades as I was heading through my teaching career in far-off Australia from the 1970s to the 1990s.
C. Coulson was obliged to resign his editorship eight years ago, in early 2007. Months later he was hired by David Cameron, then leader of the opposition, as communications chief for the Conservative Party. This story was in the news for years here in Australia with a vast range of permutations and combinations; I am only offering several paragraphs, and a summary of this lengthy story about newspapers, from The New York Review of Books in January 2015. As if appointing a man who had just departed a seamy tabloid in cloudy circumstances weren’t error of judgment enough, Cameron then took Coulson to Downing Street with him in May 2010, although Coulson left within a year. He was one of several men and women on trial who had worked for the News of the World, and its daily sister The Sun, tabloids owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International group.
D. Rebekah Brooks, who had preceded Coulson at the News of the World before becoming editor of The Sun, and then chief executive of News International, was acquitted on the same charge; her husband, Charlie Brooks, was acquitted on a charge of concealing evidence. While Coulson’s conviction was generally expected, Mrs. Brooks’s acquittal surprised many people, including the defendant herself. As a reporter for The Guardian, Nick Davies was responsible for uncovering the News of the World phone hacking affair, including the July 2011 revelations of hacking into the mobile phone voicemail of the murdered schoolgirl Milly Dowler. Nick Davies is a British investigative journalist, writer and documentary maker. Davies has written extensively as a freelancer, as well as for The Guardian and The Observer, and been named Reporter of the Year, Journalist of the Year and Feature Writer of the Year at the British Press Awards. Davies has made documentaries for ITV's World in Action and written numerous books on the subject of politics and journalism, including Flat Earth News, which attracted considerable controversy as an exposé of journalistic malpractice in the UK and around the globe. For more of this labyrinthine story in relation to this famous newspaper go to: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2015/jan/08/how-murdoch-gang-got-away/?insrc=hpma
MY MEDIA STUDIES FILES
As my adult life progressed from 20 to 40, 40 to 60, & 60 towards 80 in 2024---my reading tastes widened and widened. It had already become impossible, as I say above, to read everything I was interested in long before the internet developed to the extent it did in this 3rd millennium. But a high degree of selectivity became even more essential than it had ever been during my student, my working and my teaching life. By January 2015 my media studies files had been in existence for twenty years: 1995 to 2015. I can see a potential in these now extensive files for both the enrichment of my reading base, and for the dispersing of my writing across a wide cross-section of the world's print and electronic media. It is a potential I have begun to explore and take advantage of more and more as the years advance incrementally in the first decades of this 21st century. A beginning has been made in the years 1995 to 2015. As I write this revised edition of an introduction to my media studies files on 3 January 2015, this beginning has begun to bear fruit.
2/8/'07 to 3/1/'15.
Internet sites at which I have posted on topics relating to print and the media:
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF KNOWLEDGE
The following slice of an interview at the electronic online journal CTheory.net(15/12/'10) is about the future of libraries and the ways people may acquire information and knowledge in the future. The interview is entitled "Digital Inflections: Post-Literacy and the Age of Imagination" and it is with Michael Ridley, the University of Guelph Ontario's Head Geek and Chief Dork. He leads a life in which he is heavily engaged in future-studies by reconfiguring access to the past. As Chief Librarian and Chief Information Office of the University of Guelph, Ridley spends his days integrating digital potentialities and the power of imagination with the cultural and historical resources of the library. Seeing the digital as a liminal space between the age of the alphabet & an era of post-literacy, he is transforming the mission of libraries: gone are the days where libraries primarily focus on developing collections. Today collections are the raw materials fueling the library as a dissonance engine, an engine enabling collaborative, cross-disciplinary imaginations. In the following paragraph from this interview Ridley talks about what he calls "the physiology of knowledge."
"I want to take some, if not all, of the romance out of information and knowledge. What we know, the ideas and concepts that we have, are chemical sequences of some sort that are comprised of neurotransmitters and synapses and protein sequences, and whatever those bits and pieces are. Everything we know and understand is encoded in this way. So it really is the encoding system that matters at the end of the day. Digitization, digital representation and the alphabet are just abstracted from the core thing that is physiological. We're learning more and more about how the brain works and we're getting closer and closer to understanding how information is encoded. If we can achieve this end, then we can (metaphorically) synthesize ideas; if you want to learn French then you could just take a pill. The pill would 'grow' the knowledge inside of you." Go to this link if you want to read more:http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=674
Information, sometimes shortened as info, is that which informs. It can be an answer to a question, as well as that from which knowledge and data can be derived. Data represents values attributed to parameters, and knowledge signifies understanding of real things or abstract concepts). As it regards data, the information's existence is not necessarily coupled to an observer; it exists beyond an event horizon, for example, while in the case of knowledge, the information requires a cognitive observer. At its most fundamental, information is any propagation of cause and effect within a system. Information is conveyed either as the content of a message or through direct or indirect observation of some thing. That which is perceived can be construed as a message in its own right, and in that sense, information is always conveyed as the content of a message. Information can be encoded into various forms for transmission and interpretation; for example, information may be encoded into a sequence of signs, or transmitted via a sequence of signals). It can also be encrypted for safe storage and communication. For more on this subject go to: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Information
Can the history of information explain the dominance of western cultures over the rest of the world? And if the control and analysis of information has been key to western economic power, what does it mean for the current situation, in which China and India are catching up? Jeremy Black’s new book The Power of Knowledge: How Information & Technology Made the Modern World(Yale University Press, 2014) is a massive compendium of facts that suggestively interrogates the entanglement between information and western modernity. The following paragraphs are a review in the online journal HistoryExtra by Aileen Fyfe. Dr Aileen Fyfe is a reader in history at the University of St Andrews.
She writes: "Black follows others in noting that the modern nation state depends upon information about demographics, taxation & industrial output; & that the nation state itself produces huge quantities of information. He also notes that technologies, from printing to the internet, have enabled information to be spread beyond the walls of government with potentially disruptive effects. Rulers throughout world history have used information as a source of authority. Black begins in medieval Europe, but the bulk of his narrative is post-1450. He is particularly fascinated by maps, and chapters are full of examples of the collection of geographical knowledge, from Mercator’s 16th-century cylindrical map projections to the Hubble space telescope. But he’s also concerned with the ways in which information and politics are entangled in the modern world." She continues:
"Black's impressive survey takes in censuses, literacy rates, medicine, time- keeping, trains, telegraphs and space shuttles, the Holocaust, the Star Wars films, and, of course, the internet. The discussion of state scrutiny and control includes Stalin’s USSR, modern China, and Assad’s Syria, and is dealt with as bare reportage rather than polemic. The answer to the question about western distinctiveness must be comparative, and this book is littered with fascinating details from Black’s extensive reading on China, Japan, Persia, Mughal India and even Lapland. We learn that the Abbasid caliphs of Baghdad, in the 9th and 10th centuries AD, had a good long-distance postal service and that there were spectacle shops in Japan in the 17th century. And we learn that printing in China was done by engraving whole pages of characters onto blocks of wood, which was cheap and simple enough that printing by moveable metal type seemed to offer few advantages. Yet, for all that, this remains principally a book about Europe.
"Although Black is impressed by the improvements in the capacity for information gathering and analysis over the past two centuries, he argues that western societies have been distinctive since the early modern period, due to their predilection for trans-oceanic exploration, adventure and exploitation. Other empires had ruled over large distances, and peoples of varied cultures, faiths and languages, but the Mongols, Persians, Chinese and Mughals all ruled by land, not sea, and based their economies on land, not trade. It was the exigencies of long-distance trade, Black argues, that drove westerners to develop the sophisticated information-gathering and analysing techniques, which in turn led to their global dominance in the 19th and 20th centuries.
"The book’s final part is full of recent examples, pointing out the challenges now that other cultures have developed their own information systems and the latest technologies have the potential to spread information far more widely. But, despite nods to HG Wells and George Orwell, Black wisely refrains from attempting to predict the future."
MY JOURNALS OR DIARIES: A SUMMARY
What follows is a summary of my journals or diaries, for I use the terms interchangeably even though I am aware that fine distinctions are made by specialists in the field of diary and journal-making. The diary and journal are sub-sections of life-writing, life-narrative, autobiography and memoir writing. They are relevant to this introduction to the print and electronic media since my journals contain much content about my reading and reactions to the content of the media. My journals are not those of an artist with paint, a sculptor with clay, but one of a person who slowly came to see himself, at least by his mid-60s, as a writer and author, poet and publisher, online blogger and journalist. By my mid-60s, too, I had been fully retired from the world of jobs, of paid employment, of earning a living, of supporting a wife and family, for at least ten years. I had become by sensible and insensible degrees an artist in the medium of words.
The summary of my journal and diary writing, found below, is made after more than 30 years of diary or journal keeping, January 1984 to June 2014. Those who work in the more familiar art mediums of painting and sculpture, pottery or one of the various forms of design, may find these following words useful as a comparison and contrast point. Such is my hope. As I have said before in other contexts than this, keeping a journal or diary has been a difficult literary task. I know many others also find keeping a journal difficult. Artists and people in all sorts of walks of life often begin a journal but let it lapse after a short time.
The Australian artist Donald Friend's work with his art journal has been helpful to me in this vein, in the vein of keeping and maintaining a diary. Also of value to me have been the diaries of Juliet Thompson, Agnes Parsons and a range of other diaries and quasi-memoiristic resources that have appeared online in recent years. I have posted on the subject of diaries and journals at many internet sites like the following:
THE PROBLEM OF SKEPTICISM AND CYNICISM
Today, it has become all-too-common for academics to begin a discussion of any contemporary political disturbance or action by smugly asking: "Should we take this seriously?" What follows is typically a brief statement of healthy skepticism, a few words beseeching careful consideration (while little is actually offered), and an invariably cynical conclusion which merely reiterates that which dominates contemporary political discourse. Of course, a fine dose of skepticism is always welcome, yet when it overwhelms the daily attitudes of intellectuals and intellectuals exhaust the majority of their energies in its unnecessary defense, when skepticism and cynicism circumscribe nearly all political discussions, then there is a problem. For more on this subject go to:http://www.othervoices.org/2.3/jschuster/index.html This is a review by Joshua Schuster of a book entitled Cultural Resistance Reader, ed. Stephen Duncombe (New York: Verso, 2002). The review is in an online journal entitled: Other Voices: the ejournal of Cultural Criticism.
WITHOUT MR VANCE PACKARD
By far the most significant writer who has written popular books about American society and found a niche outside the academy in the print media from the late 1950's to the late '80's was Vance Packard. These were the last decades before emails and the internet got going in the 1990s. Packard was famous for The Hidden Persuaders (1957), Status Seekers (1959), Pyramid Climbers (1962), and a succession of books until his last in 1989. Through the publication of these books, Packard probably had more influence on the lay public regarding the social dimensions of American society than any other writer or sociologist. Packard's books frequently appeared on best seller lists and young scholars were routinely shocked to find that Packard's works were considered beneath respectable discussion in many university classrooms. They tended to be disparaged by professional sociologists and public intellectuals, perhaps, because they displayed none of the more abstract theorizing that social scientists look for in sociological writings.
Packard was not fully trained in sociology. He majored in English and then earned a Master's degree in journalism at Columbia, and from there embarked upon a career in journalism at the start of the Baha’i teaching Plan in 1937. Through the resourceful use of his talents as a writer and his unique insights into American society, he contributed significantly to public understanding of a whole range of topics typically studied by academic sociologists: family and childrearing, sexual patterns, the media, consumerism and wastefulness, isolation and loneliness, and the super rich. In the years immediately before and after I became a Baha’i in Canada in 1959, Packard was a very popular writer. My contact with his writings was limited because I had a massive reading list in the late fifties and early sixties in the humanities and my concentration was on just getting though and out into the marketplace with a career, marriage and a family.-Ron Price with thanks to “Internet Sites on Vance Packard,” Poetry Booklet Number 58, Ron Price, July 10th 2006.
I remember seeing your books
back in those years when I’d
first started hearing about birds
flying over Akka and martyrs
by the score in lounge rooms
on cold Canadian evenings
when I waited for the talks
to be over and the hot coffee
and cakes to arrive—they seem
like distant cousins, those years.
Yes, those years are as distant as
Packard himself as I plowed thru
more books than my little brain
could stomach, motivated as I was
to make it in the marketplace, get a
job, marry and raise a family ‘cause
that was what everyone did, at least
everyone whom I knew and Packard
was never on reading lists. My-god,
I had more to read than I ever thought
I could get through, but get through I
did even without Packard's insights.
10/7/'06 to 1/5/'14.
MEDIA STUDIES: AN INTRODUCTION
Although my experience with the print and electronic media began insensibly and sensibly by 1950 after my conception in October 1943, the formal study of these media did not begin until I taught media studies at the Ballarat College of Advanced Education, now the University of Ballarat, from 1976 to 1978. I was then in my early thirties. In the 1990s, at the Thornlie College of Technical and Further Education(Tafe), now the Swan Polytechnic, I taught a subject entitled Media Studies. It was just one in a long list of subjects I taught in this TAFE college in Perth Western Australia through the 1990s.
When I retired from teaching in July 1999 I kept the three arch-lever files on media studies that I had accumulated over nearly 25 years. In the 15 years since then, 1999 to 2014, these three files have become six arch-lever files and four two-ring binders. Anyone wanting to know the contents of these 10 files can view the table of contents that I keep in my computer directory, although this is hardly likely.
It has been more than 70 years since the media first became a part of my life. The radio and the record player, newspapers, magazines, journals and books were all part of my parents' experience when I was in the womb and then in the cradle. The story of the relationship between the print and electronic media and my life over these last seven decades is a long and complex one, far too long to write in any detail in an introduction to my media studies files.
Now, at the age of 70, I have a base in these files for the study of this important part of my life and the life of my society. A significant part of my writing now emerges from this study, this research, this reading and the cross-fertilization of this study with other aspects of my life, and the life of my society, and the religion I have been associated with now for more than sixty years.
With more than 60% gone of another Bahá’í Plan, the 2011 to 2016 Plan, I update this introduction yet again and, as I do, I think to myself that this update will be followed by many an update in the years to come. If I am granted a long life, if I live, for example, into old age, the years beyond 80 to chose a timeframe in the lifespan used in one of the models of human development---there will be many Plans to come.
21/4/'11 to 1/5/'14.
TOTAL INTERNET SITE/ENTRIES
On 1 June 2014 any reader doing some googling will find literally 1000s of entries when they type Ron Price followed by any one of these words: poetry, history, literature, bipolar disorder, Bahá'í or Ron Price followed by literally dozens of other subjects, topics and words like: media, popular culture, religion, Christianity, philosophy, sociology, psychology, anthropology, history, media studies, interviews, writing, inter alia. It was equally obvious that, with a little digging or a lot, depending on one’s search skills and interests, that there were millions of people who came across my writing and read it in varying degrees.
There is no question that the sites at which I have registered, and at which I posted my writing, as well as the entries on the internet at google, among a host of other search engines, at which I responded to the writing of others constituted a major website presence. Of course, ‘major’ is a relative term on the WWW with its hundreds of millions of sites, many billions of items of: news and information, topics and subjects, and at least 3 billion users as of 1 June 2014. My presence is, was, and always will be just a dot on the cyberspace landscape.
My entries get mixed in with some 5000 other Ron Prices, yes, 5000!!---which I began to itemize but stopped after listing more than 1000 Ron Prices. Some of these people are men of fame and fortune and others of notoriety and varying types of misadventure. If I go to the USA internet site: How Many of Me.com, I will find over 1000 Ron Price’s and Ronald Price’s. If I go to a site with the same name in the UK, I get over 300 Ron Prices. If I go to: ZoomInfo Business People, I get some 250 Ron Price's. Readers looking for my posts will also find that when they type the word Price into their search engine with whatever other words they enter, will get sub-sites having to do with prices and money. A multitude of other sites having similar subject matter to the subject matter that I post; for example, Baha’i, poetry, literature, psychology, sociology, history, inter alia, get mixed in with mine.
This makes the enumeration, the collection, the addition, of all my entries on the internet a complex, tedious and undesirable exercise after the first few hundred that any interested reader can find and list. This intermixing of my entries/sites with those of others has the effect of masking my presence somewhat. My guesstimation, though, of total entries on the internet is: 30,000 sites and sub-sites and, as I say, millions of readers.
MORE ON THE INTERNET
The rapid planetization of the world in the 1990s, in that decade of vast economic and demographic globalization, was unprecedented. The mixing across the planet of corporate structure, work, finance, commodities, and people proceeded apace. While these trends certainly affected the emergence of postmodern culture, the birth and dissemination of networked computing was the biggest factor. The Internet installs a new kind of space, that of the virtual. It continues the tendency of mankind perhaps from the outset, but certainly since print technology in the 15th century, to duplicate reality, to create a second order of culture, one apart from the synchronous exchange of symbols and sounds between people in territorial and real space.
Print, telegraphy, phonographs, film, radio, and television all enable mediated culture, the breaking up of the unity of time & space in the exchange of cultural objects between individuals and groups. But each of these technologies of information suffers from material constraints on their ability to violate phenomenological time and space. None of these media offer cultural objects everywhere and at any time. The process of the production & distribution of culture in these media operate within the domain of the analogue & within the logic of scarcity. Copying and storage are expensive and, in varying degrees, difficult. Great strides were made during this first media epoch to facilitate the multiplication of objects cheaply and democratically. From pirated printing in the seventeenth century to citizen band radio, pirate radio, and audio-and-video-cassette duplication in the twentieth, the control of analogue media has always been partial at best. Yet the analogue mode of information lent itself to control by the modern institutions of the nation-state and the corporation.
The Internet combines a planetary, decentralized communication system with its telephone wires, communications satellites, radio frequencies, and its digitized information. Cultural objects are thereby shifted from a Newtonian, analogue regime to a quantum, digital regime. Copying, storage, and distribution are in principle costless, although pre-existing economic regimes may impose their costs just as Feudal toll collectors imposed costs on trade in the early period of capitalist commerce. The virtual order of cyberspace brings into proximity distant locations and implodes into instantaneity sequential events. The long-term cultural consequences of this innovation must be devastating for the modern, bearing in mind, however, a single but crucial caveat. No technology results in automatic consequences. All instruments are subject to change in their structure by their users, even as they alter those users. To predict the birth of the postmodern as a result of the Internet is simply absurd. Yet one cannot ignore the potentials of the technology even as it evolves from a university-based research tool to a vast retail store and financial instrument to a tool of military institutions and governments to a warehouse of erotica to a pick-up spot. For more go to:http://www.uiowa.edu/~ijcs/mediation/poster.htm
The on-line individual is heavily mediated by the interface of globally networked computers. Individual must know that their consciousness, their cognition, and their emotion are minuscule in comparison with what is at the other side of the screen. Just as the user is empowered by the tool of the Internet in a fully modern sense, so this user is also fragmented, dispersed, decentered, and marginalized by it in a fully postmodern sense. Like the consumer of the 1950s, the Internet user holds a position which is difficult to characterize as modern. The user as subject position is displaced from the privileged perch of res cogitans and brought within the rough domain of res extensa. At one with the network of wire tentacles & electronic pulses, the user is no longer a subject in the modern sense of the word, no longer one who stands under and controls the object. At best one might say that user and interface together form a new configuration of the subject, one characterized not by the overdetermination of its desires but by the underdetermination of its identity. This subject is complex, difficult to understand, and even more difficult to write about in ways that are easy for the average individual to take in. For a clever image or visual portrayal of the change from books to screens in our social life go to: https://www.facebook.com/PenguinRandomHouse?fref=nf
THE AFFECT OF TOO MUCH TV
The familiar argument—that too much TV has made Americans ignorant and perhaps also stupid—is just one version of what Karen Sternheimer calls “media phobia.” Indeed, the notion that a vague entity called “the media” is to blame for major social problems is now standard, in part because media organizations themselves ritualistically bemoan the accusation of their blame-worthiness. The media as culprit has come to seem like common sense. Media, so the litany goes, glamorize sex, violence, drugs, and hyper-consumption. The story goes on: the media cause children—oh, the innocent children!—to be sexualized and others, at a very young age, to have babies before they are mature enough to handle them. The media portray violence as a viable or even attractive means for people to get what they want; they encourage abuse of all kinds of substances, and people to act like spoiled materialists. The media, and popular culture more generally, make people dumber, fatter, trivializing, and more hate-filled.
In Connecting Social Problems and Popular Culture—a much more interesting book than its title suggests—Karen Sternheimer subjects such reasoning to the most thorough, nuanced, and detailed debunking it has yet received. One by one, she knocks down nine fears about media culture: that it dumbs us down, ruins childhood, causes violence, promotes teen sex, promotes teen pregnancy and single parenthood, makes kids materialistic, damages health, causes substance abuse, and promotes misogyny, homophobia, and racism. Taking in and synthesizing a vast array of materials, from media coverage and anti-media polemics to research studies, she makes the vigorous, accessibly expressed argument that there is simply too little evidence to support the “blame-the-media” position. The much-hyped fear of media’s negative effects is itself a projection of widespread anxieties about “the changing experiences of childhood and adolescence” (p. 2), and it sells well. The social problems attributed to media can more effectively be traced to various forms of social inequality; culture-blaming deflects attention away from these deeper and more challenging causal forces. For more on this topic go to:http://csx.sagepub.com/content/39/6/746.full
The work of many a cyberpundit, like the work of the moron in general, is done by assertion – preferably very loud assertion – rather than by argument. This is one of the reasons why most online critiques of film, of books, of TV programs, inter alia, are so short. They certainly don’t have to be. The technology of the net, unlike print technology, imposes no length limit on the prose of the writer. It gives a writer infinite elbow room. I have taken advantage of this and frequently post lengthy pieces, pieces not always appreciated due to their length. TLTR is an acronym that is often hurled, posted, my way an inch or so below my online garrulousness.
One might have thought, way back at the internet’s birth in the 1990s, that the prevailing tone of online writing would be rambling, expansive, unhurried, hippyishly laid-back. This of course is hilariously not the case. Hypertext has led to hyperprose. The online ambience, even on sites that consider themselves literary, tends to be noisy and hysterical. This is the great paradox of the web. It’s a realm of infinite space: but so much of the stuff that’s on it is cramped, frantic, fragmentary. There are several reasons, several explanations, of this online illiteracy. One is that most online writers aren’t real, really, writers at all. Real writers aren’t just people with an opinion. They don’t just tell you whether they like something or hate it. They use language to justify their position, to work it out, to nail down its complexities and ambiguities. If they don’t like something, they explain exactly why they don’t like it. Reasoning, literary reasoning, takes time, and nobody these days seems to have any all over the internet. This is especially true at Facebook.
Writing and thinking, take time and effort, and not many people are up for that either. And it takes up space. Newspapers don’t give professional critics nearly enough of that any more, and web critics – who do have the space – don’t seem inclined to use it. In this respect the internet, which was supposed to blur the line between the proper writer and the amateur dabbler, actually serves to sharpen it. A proper writer – like a proper bricklayer, or a proper engineer – is someone who’s willing to put a lot of time and effort into the difficult job of getting things right. A non-writer is someone who isn’t. The web is egalitarian in structure: it lets everyone, or nearly everyone, have a say. But by doing that, it has the effect of proving, in giant italics, that we’re not all equally capable of saying useful things.
Reading literature, history, sociology, media studies, cultural studies, inter alia, and writing about them aren’t easy, and a lot of people just aren’t cut out for things that aren’t easy. In the space of two or three lines, most web critics will have written down every single thought that they have about a book, and they’ll be ready to move on and put the boot into the next one. Their idea of what a proper review consists of doesn’t come from what they’ve read in a newspaper anyway, let alone in a book. It comes from other two-line reviews they’ve read on the net. The shard, the fragment, has established itself as the online critic’s ideal form. The twitter-Facebook age while appealing to millions, is not for everyone.
The same principle applies, alas, in the arena of the literary blog. Literary blogs have turned out to be a great disappointment. Once again we can’t blame the technology for this. The technology imposes no limits, no shape. A literary blog can be anything you want it to be. It can even be literary. But market forces have spoken, in their usual monosyllabic way, and readers by now have certain pretty firm and deeply un-literary expectations of what a proper blog should look like. They expect to see a lot of bite-sized entries under separate headings. They expect to see bold-faced links strewn through the text like chocolate sprinkles. They expect to see fresh content at least once a day. They expect to see, even in a literary blog, lots of piccies. Of course you’re perfectly free to go ahead and write a blog that defies all these conventions. You could post no pictures or links at all; you could update once a fortnight with a copiously footnoted 5,000 word essay. Nothing’s stopping you – except the fact that nobody will read the thing, because it won’t look like a blog. The longer my blogs are in cyberspace, the longer they become. Because of the above, though, I do not expect them to be received with lavish enthusiasm.
Magazines are publications, usually periodical publications, that are printed or published electronically. The online versions are called online magazines. They are generally published on a regular schedule and contain a variety of content. They are generally financed by advertising, by a purchase price, by prepaid subscriptions, or a combination of the three. At its root, the word "magazine" refers to a collection or storage location. In the case of written publications, it is a collection of written articles. This explains why magazine publications share the word root with gunpowder magazines, artillery magazines, firearms magazines, and (in various languages, although not English) retail stores such as department stores. For more on magazines go to:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magazine
In my 70 years on this planet, I have not been a reader of magazines to any significant extent although, given their ubiquity in our culture, it was impossible not to see them: in newsagents, in various retail stores like the grocery store at or near the cash register, and when purchased by my mother, my wife or my children and brought into our home. There were some magazines, for the most part, Baha'i magazines and magazines in which I was trying to place some of my articles which I read regularly. My mother used to buy the Daily Word magazine, a publication of the Unity School of Christianity. This is the first magazine I can remember in my life. Time and Newsweek were occasionally on my reading list in the 1970s and 80s.
The word 'journal' comes through French from the Latin word 'diurnalis' meaning daily. It has several related meanings: (i) a daily record of events or business; a private journal is usually referred to as a diary; (ii) a newspaper or other periodical, in the literal sense of one published each day, and (iii) many publications issued at stated intervals, such as academic journals, or the record of the transactions of a society, are often called journals. In academic use, a journal refers to a serious, scholarly publication that is peer-reviewed. A non-scholarly magazine written for an educated audience about an industry or an area of professional activity is usually called a trade magazine. For more on this subject go to: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Journal The first journals I recall reading were in my first year of university in the newspaper-journal section of the McMaster university library in 1963/4. The New York Review of Books was a journal I read in hard copy from the 1970s through the 1990s, occasionally. Now I read it online. Journals became an important part of my reading and now, in these my retirement years, more than ever before.
THE ELECTRONIC MEDIA: A FINAL NOTE
Electronic media are media that use electronics or electromechanical energy for the end user, the audience, to access the content. This is in contrast to static media, mainly print media, which today are most often created electronically, but do not require electronics to be accessed by the end user in the printed form. The primary electronic media sources familiar to the general public are video recordings, audio recordings, slide presentations, multimedia presentations, CD-ROM and online content. Most new media are in the form of digital media. However, electronic media may be in either analog electronic data or digital electronicdata format. For a lengthy and detailed overview of this subject go to: