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.
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