Tuesday, July 20, 2004

The medium is not the message

This is a correction and update of a comment I posted on Ed Kemmick's City Lights.
What we are talking about here is the tools, not the actual situation. When movable type made the Bible available to the average reader, the powers that be were concerned because it threatened their control of life. When newspapers came in, they were and still are condemned for the same reason that Jefferson supported them, they made for a more educated electorate. Now we are looking at what is going on in film and Howard Dean saw another change coming in politics and started using the Internet. That will be developed in years ahead (or maybe just months with the bloggers going to convention), to make new waves in politics. Despite what McCluhan wrote in the 60s, the medium is not the message, it just provides new tools to distort and manipulate the message. I have to admit that I agree with Jen that while electronic media is the quickest way to stay up to date, the truth can best be winnowed from the print media, if you establish that the media you use is trying to rely on facts, not supposition. You can winnow the electronic also. The key is to eliminate all the emotional language you can and see what's left. Then observe that with your skeptical rose-colored glasses. However, I also fear that what she says about mud-slinging (that she will vote for the person who does use it) is like the current myth about voting for the man, not the party. One person’s mud is another person’s fact. Again, you have to weed out the “truth” rather than be swayed by tradition or habit. That’s why I find it hard to understand the support for our current president. What I have seen as fact, what is left after I have done my best to weed out the right or left wing attitudes (and in today’s language free-for-alls that’s fairly easy if you look at it all as if it's propaganda) says that he has led us down the path toward a new Imperial Rome and that we really are less safe today than we were right after 9/11. To explain the vote for the man myth, all it takes is to look at what happens in Helena (or any state capital that operates on a party system) and in Washington, D.C. The key votes are so party aligned that when a party fails to gain the votes of all its members in the legislature or Congress it becomes news in itself. I think this is what makes the public unhappy with the politicians. They vote for a person who says he or she will do something, but when push comes to shove, the person has to vote with his or her party.


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