Rough Type – Same shit, different medium

What you see depends on where you stand, and from one viewpoint – a high one – Poe is absolutely correct. He puts his finger on a tragicomic fundamental of human existence: Whenever we come upon a wild new frontier, we jump up and down and say we’re going to restart history, and then we proceed to do exactly what we always do: build houses, shops, brothels, bars, gaming emporiums, churches. And then more shops. Modern electronic media, from this view, simply allow us to do all the same stuff with less physical effort. Lots of big boxes collapse into one small box, but the contents of the box remains the same.

The problem with a high vantage point is that you can’t see the details, and if you stand there long enough you begin to believe that the details don’t matter. But the details do matter. The texture of our lives is determined not only by what we do but by how we do it. And that’s where media play such an important part: they change the how. Which is what Poe misses. Just as the dishwasher (along with the washing machine, the vacuum cleaner, and all manner of other electrified household appliance) altered in profound ways the rhythms and roles of home life during the last century, so the internet changes, in ways small and large, everything it subsumes. The same shit, when routed through a different medium, becomes new shit.

via Rough Type – Same shit, different medium. I love that last sentence it defines very precisely how the medium is an important factor in differences existing while the high level appears to be the same.



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