Assemblages

The period of standardization of the 15th century was influenced primarily through the distribution of books and information allowing for greater access to knowledge (Eisenstein 1979, p. 71). Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) identifies the transition from a period of technological determinism Johannes Gutenberg’s personal invention of a printing press sparked developments made in the publishing assemblages of media. Production, science, art, religion and philosophy rapidly influenced society through its vast distribution, effectively influencing a level of standardisation. Greater numbers of information allowed cheaper production and the purchase of the these philosophical thoughts allowed ideas to ravage the minds of humans from all over the world, in different places and even up to the 21st century and onwards.

Vast socio-cultural impacts instigated through the new methods of printing advanced the theory that the network of communication networks and their interconnecting nodes has power and influence on the lives of all individuals as academic research has highlighted how vast innovations has impacted society.  Silverstone (2006, p. 229-248) signifies a period of transition from technological determinism where view points have revolved around the theory that technological advancement and innovation was an impact upon social change.  Furthermore, the studies are developed considering a centrifugal assemblage of mediated culture in the 21st century and onwards. From the perspective of assemblages and actor-network theory the printing industry is a network containing human and non-human actants, thus all actants in a network, human or non-human are entirely equal in regards to an ontological view and have the possibility to be taken into use towards exploring the capabilities of publishing in time transitions.  Bruno Latour, a contributing founder of the actor-network theory emphasised both social and technical assemblage elements contain agencies, thus both obtain the ability to influence socio-cultural activities and society itself. The printing press itself is an assemblage however smaller assemblages are fundamental to its conception. Ink, paper, the alphabet, a keyboard and the people who use the finishing product act as smaller agents and networks. Simply put, the printing press would not exist without its key elements, fundamental to its functionality demonstrating the performance of assemblage networks within a wider picture. An example of this is imbedded in the practice of a protest. In October 2011 Syrian activists and protests turned to social media as a way to reach the outside world as all coverage of protests were banned within the country. Facebook in this sense is an assemblage part of a bigger picture, a bigger assemblage involving the relationships between people and technology.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/oct/09/syria-informers-protests-internet-facebook

Castells (2005, p. 3-7) expresses the view point that the network society is a structure made up by independent nodes which distribute information with other nodes equally. This stands in opposition towards a centripetal or centrifugal structure of social assemblages and networks. The thoughts of Silverstone and Castells i personally view as a relative towards the theory of actor-network theory as each actant is equally important and relative to the complete assemblage. The printing press is a make up of vast assemblages however interaction occurs between an assemblage and other networks such as publishers, business, websites and so forth. The dissemination of ideas was fundamental to the period of standardization and its evolution towards the 21st century where we have a society characterised by accessibility to sources consisting of unlimited knowledge and content. Thus, without the existence of disseminating ideas or the desire to do so the printing press system or the Internet itself would not exist. Printing presses and the Internet as an assemblage paved the way for further developments in assemblages, advancing technology as the fundamental tool of communication. In the perspective of the actor-network theory and assemblages there is continually efforts to portray the relationship and its importance between individuals, society and technology. This is enhanced by Latour’s theories demonstrating the most effective way to analyse and understand media and its social impacts on society its to critique assemblages and their formation in the process of relationships. To understand media and society different perspectives and theories must be taken as the world is an interconnecting node and analysis must take place on different assemblages and relationships.

Understanding the relations between different elements and underlying factors is always important when looking at assemblages or in general, the big picture yet when discussing with my friend yesterday we noted that the further we continue our studies into a certain topic or relationships it can sometimes feel the bigger picture altogether is lost.

References

Castells, M 2005, “Informationalism, networks and the network society: a theoretical blueprint.”, in The network society: a cross cultural perspective, Cheltenham, UK, Edward Elgar, pp. 3-7.

Eisenstein, E 1979, “Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture” in The printing press an agent of change, vol. 1, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, pp. 43-63.

Silverstone, R 2006, “Domesticating domestication. Reflections on the life of a concept” in Berker, Thomas et all (Eds)  Domestication of media and technology, Berkshire, UK, Open University Press, pp. 229-248.

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Alphabet

When Amenhotep attempted to communicate the concept of monotheism using pictographs, he failed because the pictograph had already taken up a meaning. Metaphorical and ideological concepts have immense difficulty forming through the use of pictographic alphabets.

“The failure of such an idea to take hold after such a poltically potent send-off-coupled with the success of more or less the same idea in the hands of the politically powerless Hebrews a few years later, serves as one of the most important demonstrations in all history of media to make or break the ideas they carry,”(Levinson 1997, p. 12)

The creation of the abstract alphabet allowed languages and cultures to spawn the world and advance viewpoints, perspectives and ideas, which transcend the dimensions of communal space while ‘representing the unrepresentable,’ (Levinson 1997, p. 17) . Eisenstein (1979, p. 71-112) focus on the spread of the printing press and its significant influence through the distribution of literature in developing what Anderson describes as ‘imagined communities’. Effectively this implanted the aspects of standardization including the abstraction of Greek literature, which gave prominence to logic and philosophical thought.

Space is a dimension, which the alphabet as a tool of publication can travel. However, the ways in which products are published can determine their impact and their authoritative presence on others.  The changes in publishing power through printing allowed Greek philosophers to take advantage of the alphabetic system and shift a change in publishing power and its social impacts and eventually ‘created a public,'(McLuhan, p. 9). The change in publishing power can influence not only the social impacts on a civilisation, their lives and ideologies but can also influence the very language they speak and the meanings a phonetic work may give.

Semantic change is the evolution of a word to the point where a word has become radically different from the original usage of the word. Linguistic, psychological, and socio-cultural forces can influence a words evolution and the way people utilise the word. Semantic change would not occur in ancient pictographic alphabets as these alphabets are based of physical representation. The basis of many alphabets today and their focus on phonetics has allowed the reinvention of words without a new word being formed. Furthermore, the social impacts of powerful publication through abstraction can enforce the echoing of thought, literature and the very words future generations will come to use.

Greek philosophers had an echoing presence, previously unheard in human history as their philosophical teachings are still followed, taught and analysed by people of the modern era. Writing utilises this abstraction, thus it primarily tries to move and conserve images and ideas allowing us to express and publish through the dimensions of space.

Writing has effectively caused conflicts between methods of printing the presence of time and space. When a piece of artwork or writing has been carved into a cave wall or a stone the amount of time the publication lasts may be enormous. However, in my opinion the disadvantage towards the accessibility of the publication influences it echoing presence and its social impacts among others.

Letters, newspapers and so forth acting nothing less than smoke signals, they are simply read or breathed in and then dispersed among the atmosphere thus most likely to never be read again. Although this form of media is taken in and often dispersed they can also mediate an echoing presence and contain social impacts on a society. Simply the reporting of news, events, debates, elections and everything else can influence how people perceive ideologies, concepts and events as ‘more than any other single invention, writing has transformed human consciousness,'(Finklestein and McCleary 2002, p. 105)

The invention of the Internet has now let us form an everlasting expression of our opinions, thoughts and feelings where we continue to access all types of information.  The Facebook timeline is an example of this. It successfully allows us to view information, which has been released possibly decades before in a timeline layout although the timeline is a recent invention launched in September 2011. Although this has been instituted in our daily living the timeline is a unique design and one which frees the time constraint on our information, what we say, and things we do possibly making them timelessness, lasting forever. Last year was a year characterised massive activist campaign, which sparked from a Youtube known as Kony, the viral activity of the Internet and its vast social impacts are immeasurable. This is a practical example of the thoughts of Gregory Ulmer (1989) and the concept of ‘electracy’ where messages can be manipulated and develop the immediacy and specificity of orality. Interest will only occur in how the development of the media will contribute society and civilisation in its advancement and construction.

References

Anderson, Benedict (1991) Imagined Communities London, Verso

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1979) The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communication and Cultural Transformation in Early-Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Finkelstein, David and McCleery, Alistair (2002) The Book History Reader London and New York. Routledge

Levinson, Paul (1997) the soft edge: a natural history and future of the information revolution London: Routledge

McLuhan, Marshall (1962) The Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic Man Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Ulmer, Gregory (1989) Teletheory: Grammatology in the Age of Video New York: Routledge

 

The History and Changing Nature of Publics and Publishing

Throughout history, humans have always sensed the need for communication. As time has progressed it is clear the dependence on communication has evoked the way we “publish” in the present world, and share information with others. Publishing, or the act of making something known through methods of distribution has therefore created vast methods of interaction on many different platforms to face the need of expression with others.

Eisenstein (1979) highlights from the 15th century onwards, a sense of standardization occurred impacting the social where things became “known” through the mass reproduction books. This period was characterised by a sense of enlightenment. Today there are large amount of frameworks, which are set up as a vice-versa relationship where all can publish information and actively or passively view information. Frameworks today include eBooks, online music stores, 3-D movies that allow users to engage with vast amounts of content unlike any period in history before, where E-readers and users can access countless amount of content. Today everyday i can go on to different websites which allow me to connect with different archives give me the power to obtain information.

Eisenstein’s heavily focuses upon the printing press as an agent of change and the influence towards standardisation.It would be completely disrespectful to the inventors of the printing press to not acknowledge this as a strong view point however, in my opinion in the Internet has a massive influence towards the access of information and is also a true agent of change.

“In the name of progress our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the ways of the old” (McLuhan and Fiore, 1967, p. 81). As the movement from traditional print media to the Internet occurs, new media is dismantling the structural production and distribution processes of print-journalism and its publishing industry. This transition has fueled the conflict between forms of old and new media for the attention of reader and viewership allowing the industry to be recognised as a ‘Publishing Assemblage,’ networks of publishing and distribution directed by the influence of publics, technologies used, and the forms in which content can be published. Media forms of all sorts are fighting for readership and attention how with vast new platforms, in today’s society people find themselves engaging in what they see as accessible and are limited to their desired platform.

Reaching the attraction of reader or viewership has become a part of the structural integrity of publishers of all kinds where the conflict between old and new media occurs. This competition with the ease of publishing has allowed for a greater collection of content in today’s world. Although, with greater amounts of content many problems have risen between. How will this affect the publishing industries of tomorrow?

http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/man-has-75-of-skull-replaced-by-3dprinting-20130313-2fzki.html

References

Eisenstein, Elizabeth (1979) The Printing Press as an Agent of Change: Communication and Cultural Transformation in Early-Modern Europe, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

McLuhan, Marshall (1962) The Gutenberg Galaxy: the making of typographic Man Toronto: University of Toronto Press