Stuart Moulthrop, “After the Last Generation”

Earlier so-called communications revolutions wrought only partial transformations: the increased emphasis on the image in photography and film; the recovery of orality in telegraphy, telephony, and radio; the creation of mass consciousness through broadcasting. Though they began to challenge writing as the primary foundation of culture, these media did not affect the conditions of writing itself. This was good news for academics. It was possible to study just about any medium through the miracle of content — by which we meant, written representations of our experience of the other medium — without having to become much more than auditors or spectators. Among other things, this allowed the academy to draw a bright line between production work in various media (mere techne) and the writing of criticism and theory (the primary work of scholars).

With the coming of cybernetic communication systems — hypertext, the World Wide Web, soon now the Semantic Web — the conditions of all media are strongly transformed, and writing is clearly included.

from Stuart Moulthrop, After the Last Generation: Rethinking Scholarship in the Days of Serious Play.

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