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Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet Paperback – 12 Jan 2010
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Social History of the Media Presents an overview of communication media and of the social and cultural contexts within which they emerged and evolved over time. This book describes media developments of the early 21st Century, including in particular the rise of social and participatory media and the globalization of media. Full description
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I gripe that media, which is after all to enlighten, entertain and shock is presented in a somewhat joyless fashion. My A level history teacher was more electrified when she described the sudden success of Protestantism was due to the printing press and the unprecidented dissemination of what one very annoyed monk had nailed to a church door. At times the statements are very parochial...I wanted to know if the Quiet train carriage had been introduced in other parts of the world.
Not only is it slightly dated (2009), but it misses out one component almost completely, (which to skirt around Amazon's auto filters I will describe as the adult entertainment industry.). The p....graphy world is mentioned once, in the context of De Sade, 18th Century only. Ummn OK, VHS tapes, DVDs, glossy magazines, the Internet, all a bit of a driving force for.....If you have heard of the monochrome service WAP (which does get a reference) on mobile phones which tried to present some sort of graphics pre smartphones, I can assure you that there was an attempt to present excited unclothed people on that very early in its introduction. Although I maintain a disinterestedness in the pictoral, it would seem to be a driving force in human lives and education, for good or ill. Since this is also very dated it also cannot ask the question, would Savile have got away with it in the instant communication era? Yesterday a political candidate stepped down because of his dated views, other politicians have recordings of their contrary viewpoints shared and brass it out. Actresses have private moments that get hacked and broadcast. This really isn't a book of the moment, but it wasn't in 2009 either, or 1989.
Some of the more important chapters include New Processes and Patterns (the evolution of transport and communications) and Information, Education and Entertainment - three broad buckets into which to pace (most) media.
As an introduction to the subject it is excellent, no doubt many will wish to dig deeper into some of the topics, but this book wisely avoids that in the interests of size / accessibility.
Why 4*? Well the cyberspace section is very thin (and is so current we can't yet fully judge how things like social media are really evolving society, and the timeline while of some interest doesn't integrate well into the book as a whole. I also felt the chapter on convergence could be evolved further, but I am only a casual reader of this subject, so may well be wrong
The media holds an ever increasing grip on our way of life: whether it is the way in which our views are channelled by news programmes, or the rise of social media assuring us that our beliefs are the 'norm'. This book gives a history of the media, from its earliest guise to the twenty-first century megalith.
If one is to understand the present status of media companies, it is important to know the history. I thought that I had a working understanding of our media industry but, I found much of which I was simply unaware in this fascinating book. If you are a student of the media, you NEED to read this: if you aren't, you OUGHT to read it!
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