The series of transformations described in Blur function as a collective body to narrate the story of communication through time up to this point. It is really difficult to isolate only two of the transformations as being of paramount importance. Do I select one of the earlier transformations as it served as a stepping stone for transformations to come? Do I choose a more recent transformation that has seemingly more impact on my personal life? Should I create a systematic calculation that considers factors from each of the transformations and select the two transformations that receive the highest scores?
By way of review, Blur notes distinct transformations in communication.
- The written word established “permanence, complexity, and mobility” to communication
- The printing press made it possible to produce writings and literature in mass quantities
- The telegraph allowed for the rapid dispersal of news and information over long distances
- The radio even further advanced the speed of information flow allowing for the public to know of events within minutes of their occurrence; the radio also was a conduit for national cohesion and unity
- The television permitted the public to engage another sense into the method we digest news/information: sight
- Digital technology granted people unprecedented access to information and news on their own time
The first transformation that I highlight is the advent of the printing press. What distinguished the printing press from other transformations was the evolution in thought that accompanied that transformation in communication. Around 1450, Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Prior to his invention, all written forms had to be copied by hand and were incredibly expensive to purchase, exclusive only to the rich. However, with the printing press, large quantities of literature could be produced and were accessible to a wider audience. This kick-started a sudden increase in both writing and reading, and literacy rates skyrocketed. As a result, there was a rise in empirical thought. People were more critical and reflective of their surroundings and sought explanations for what they saw. People were able to take ownership of their own thoughts and beliefs; no longer did they have to rely on an outside source of established authority to feed them information. They could interpret and analyze text. Additionally, the printing press catapulted the field of journalism into existence and promoted the concept of public opinion. Furthermore, this spread of information encouraged the notion that people could be self-governing: they could participate in democracy.
The second transformation that I have selected is the arrival of the television. Although this transformation might not hold as much significance or impact as the printing press, I chose it because this allowed people to see the news. It offered another medium to form opinion and incorporated the sense of sight into the way in which we consume information. The television had the capacity to unify in a way unlike any other of its communication predecessors. The New York Times even has an entire section dedicated to Television.
Although I chose the emergence of the printing press and the television as the two most important transformations in communication, it is critical to examine how each of the aforementioned transformations contribute to the development of communication and how it got us to where we are today.