English 101, 2910, A
15 October 2012
Is the Message Really the Medium?
In the new millennium, almost everything is digital. Now days, most people have access to the Internet and the billions of bits of information it contains. Books are now electronic and can be read on tablets and smart phones. This raises a few questions: Does this serge in electronics mean that we are no longer thinking critically of the information and merely walking the surface? Or does way we receive this information have and no effect on how a person processes information? This has been a debate for years, and has been weighed in on by countless people. Two of those people are Sven Birkerts and Wen Stephenson. Birkerts believes that the way information is presented is crucial to how well a person takes it in, while Stephenson disagrees, making that argument that the medium has no impact on how well a person develops an underrating of what the information is. Although the way one receives information may impact how well they process that information, it is not the only thing that contributes to the extent of their comprehension of the information. In 1994, Birkerts released The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age, a book of essays dedicated to reading in modern times. In Birkerts’ essay, “The Owl Has Flown” he begins with talking about the shift from “mechanical to circuit driven” reading in order to set up his main argument. Birkerts says that “how we receive information bears vitally on the way we experience and interpret reality” (33). Birkerts is saying that how people acquire information greatly impacts the way they observe, participate in and make sense of the world around them. The fact that people have changed the way they are getting information and are now using electronics, often more than books, the way they absorb information has changed as well. This leads into Birkerts speaking about “vertical vs. horizontal”...
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