I've set up the course with four main touchstones.
oral -> manuscript -> print -> digitalThese eras overlap; all modes of communication continue to exist to the present day, but their function in society changes.
- personal (one-to-one; one[-speaker]-to-many[-listeners])
- memory and improvisation (the agora & the courts)
- limitation: the sound of the human voice
- private (one-to-one; several-to-several)
- scarcity and fidelity (scriptoria and the church)
access to writing materials; access to written documents (for study or
copying); hundreds of hours of precision labor for each book
- public (one-to-many)
- accuracy and efficiency (standardized manufacture, standardized education, university culture)
- limitations: cheap paper only lasts a few centuries; competition favors authors with mass audiences; mistakes harder to correct
- impersonal (many-to-many)
- immediacy and interactivity (erosion of privacy, erosion of print culture borders)
- limitations: spam & crap; competing notions of "ownership" (file-sharing and digital rights)