papeetepatrick, on Aug 22 2007, 01:44 PM, said:
In other words, I think media affects and alters content immeasurably, and therefore culture. All you have to do is look at what TV has done.
No argument about that!
My point was about relative influence.
McLuhan's insight about the power of media per se
was a novelty at the time. He may have exagerrated this -- and underplayed the matter of content -- for polemic effect.
A brillliant film, a tv mixed-media documentary about an important issue, a thoughtful website exploring significant topics through art, even an "e-book" by a serious writer -- all have greater worth, it seems to me, than many of the products currently available which, merely by virtue of being printed on paper and bound between covers that are more or less hard, are entitled to call themselves "books."
I feel similarly about those who praise "reading" without regard to that which is being read. "Reading" means radically different things when one person means reading Tolstoy and another means reading recipes, and most mean something in between. (Not that there's anything wrong with reading recipes, of course.)
There have been societies where literacy was rare and very difficult to achieve. In these societies (think of the traditional Jewish communities of Eastern Europe), great honor was given to the "book" and almost magical qualities were assigned to the act of reading. In our day, when almost everyone can read something or other, different standards seem called for.