The Ascent of Media: From Gilgamesh to Google Via Gutenberg
Our society is shaped by our media - now more than at any time in history. They play a crucial role in culture, commerce and politics alike. The Ascent of Media is the first book to look at the new digital era in the context of all that has gone before, and to build on the past to describe the media landscape of the future.
Roger Parry takes us on a journey from the earliest written story - the Legend of Gilgamesh etched on clay tablets - to the Gutenberg press, and from the theatres of Athens to satellite TV and the coming semantic web. Tracing 3000 years of history, he shows how today's media have been shaped by the interaction of politics, economics and technology. He explains why Britain has the public service BBC whilst America developed the private broadcasting networks ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC. He profiles the people and organizations that have created the media world and reveals the often surprising stories behind such ubiquitous items as the keyboard, telephone dial and tabloid.
The book shows that issues of today such as a sensationalist press, piracy, monopoly, walled gardens and balancing advertising and subscription revenue have all happened before. Each upheaval in the media world - the development of moveable type printing in the 1450s; the telegraph network in the 1850s; radio broadcasting in the 1920s; and digital distribution in the 2000s - created huge fortunes, challenged authority and raised fundamental issues of copyright, privacy and censorship. Traditional media then adapt, evolve and go on to thrive in the face of competition.
The convergence of the internet, mobile phones and tablet computers is now transforming our culture. Established media giants are struggling, while new firms like Google and Apple are thriving. The superabundance of media, with increasing amounts generated by consumers themselves, means that media professionals are becoming curators as much as creators of content. The Ascent of Media traces the story of media from clay tablets to tabloids to the tablet computer. It relates how we got where we are and, based on the experience of history, where we are likely to go next.
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