Franklin (2004). Chapter 7 (The Real World Of Technology).

Franklin, U. M. (2004). Chapter 7 (The Real World Of Technology). In The Real World of Technology (Revised edition). Toronto: House of Anansi Press.

“Yet in terms of ‘the way things are done’ the new electronic technologies left their deepest impacts on society’s perceptions of time and space and on the way we, as citizens, relate to each other. This is why I have chosen to focus in these new chapters on issues of communication, of perceptions of time and space, and on collaboration.” (p 134)

“‘Communications,’ as I will use the term, is essentially the transmittal of a message from a sender to a receiver: The basic process is direct and unmediated, normally one-to-one … that can be illustrated schematically by s -> r.” (p 135)

“The first extension from the s -> r mode comes with the introduction of a messenger. As the sender entrusts the message to an intermediary, the range of communication can be extended, both in time and in space.” (p 135)

“Oral traditions do not codify transmission and interpretation of laws and values in the way that textually based societies do. Indeed, strict adherence to the letter of the law is only possible when the letter or the writ exists and carries with it the belief in its authority almost regardless of context. And herein might lie, I think, a major root of fundamentalism and some traditions have warned against overrealiance on ‘the letter’: in 1656, Quaker Elders concluded an epistle with the words ‘…that these things may be fulfilled in the Spirit, not from the letter, for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life.’1” (p 136)

“However, since the very beginning of writing there have been attempts to assure the authenticity of a given communication. Seals or signatures, detailed identifications of the writer or the source of the material — all these add-ons have attempted to substantiate the integrity of the message.” (p 137)

“Thus both content and intent of the message would be assessed from the publisher’s reputation; the attributes of the conduit came to signal the character of the message.” (p 138)

“… the reciprocity that true communication requires, of the back and forth of speaking, listening, and then supplying a response informed by what has been heard.4” (p 140)

“In many ways the spread of electronic transmission of bits of information marks the end of the simple notion of communication as the transfer of a message from a sender to a receiver. The notion of information, defined as ‘knowledge communicated concerning some particular subject, or event’6 places the emphasis on content and format, rather than intent.” (p 141)

“… we are not dealing here merely with recasting an old task — that of sending and receiving messages — into a new technological setting. We have to deal with different and quite new social relationships that now superimpose existing ones.” (p 144)

Selected Notes

  • 1. “Christian faith and practice in the experience of the Religious Society of Friends,” London Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) 1960.
  • 4. See chapter 2, p. 48.
  • 6. Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed. (Oxford: Claredon Press, 1989).
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