Unsurprising to find McLuhan on the money when it comes to the social effects of our communications age but, for me, a couple of interesting points on value and memetics.
Print is the technology of individualism” (The Gutenberg Galaxy pp.157-8) whereas with [mobile technology and the net], the tendency is once more towards interconnected thinking in a community of minds, and so perhaps less ‘free ideation’.
Less free, notice. It’s the usual Darwinian call for evolutionary balance between fidelity and fecundity. If it is too easy to copy patterns of information in hi-fidelity it is harder for mutations to be introduced in ways that create new value. Too hard is obvious, but too easy is not good. Less is more. Life’s just complicated enough. McLuhan continues:
It is important to recognize the subtlety of McLuhan’s views. He is not saying that modern technology distorts an original human nature, which must be protected from such distortions. Instead, from the moment humans began to create tools, our nature was shaped by the tools we used. The silent reading of texts proliferated after Gutenberg’s invention. This activity is not ‘natural’, in the sense of resulting through evolution from the necessities of survival; but it can be regarded as having value, conferred on it by our judgement as individuals and as a society. [His emphasis]
It is entirely possible that a future society could reverse this judgement; but in the interim we need to give consideration to the potential change in our values due to actual changes in our dominant communications media. [My emphasis]
Did we ever need a little conservatism to moderate mediation in the mix. The art of editing.