Harold Innis and the Oral Tradition

Only available on StudyMode
  • Download(s) : 108
  • Published : April 3, 2012
Open Document
Text Preview
Harold Innis’ theories successfully characterize the many different ways of human communication throughout his lifetime. Now commonly referred to as media, communication technologies have evolved and become as complex as humans themselves have changed throughout time. Recalling a question asked by his philosophy professor, why do we attend to the things in which we attend, Innis came to the conclusion that the answer lied in the medium that people communicated: oral or written (20-21). Unfortunately for Innis, he was not able to experience the medium that has undoubtedly revolutionized modern day communications – the Internet. Considering the aspects that shape the internet and the characteristics that define Innis’ notions of oral and written, the Internet finds itself straddling the line that separates the two traditions and seeks refuge in its own, other classification. The Internet is a large and vague concept that can be more easily relatable to Innis’ theories when looking at specific components. For this reason, the Internet itself can be interpreted within the definitions of both the oral and written traditions. At first glance, the relationship between the Internet and the written tradition is more obvious and agreed upon. Innis states that the written tradition isolates the individual as a reader, and overall creates a more personal experience with one’s self (72-73). In many cases like reading online newspapers and the many blogs specializing in celebrity gossip, fashion and other subjects, the Internet mimics this individual experience and makes its user the reader (Frost). In essence, the Internet can be regarded to as nothing more than a book of massive proportion, containing answers to the questions from an infinite number of subjects, readily available to any reader that seeks them. Also defined in the written tradition, the Internet has the ability to spread quickly and reach a vast audience (Innis 80-81). The written tradition is a communicator...
tracking img