The impact of new media – an historical perspective


Around 2,380 years ago, Plato complained about the written word, saying

If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.

Since then, new media have come and gone, from the printing press to the Xerox machine, and sometimes led to social, creative, or political change. Without the printing press, there might never have been a reformation or an enlightenment. Without the phonograph, there probably would never have been such a thing as popular music.

This presentation takes a historical view of the introduction of various new media and considers the social and creative impact that ensued. Perhaps the saddest story here is that it was an employee of Kodak who invented the digital camera that would eventually destroy Kodak’s core business (selling film and chemicals).

In another presentation, I’ll look at the ways in which new media transfer power away from centralised institutions into the hands of the audience.