We are all familiar with the idea and concept of liberalism. We live in a liberal democratic society where we can publish our opinions, individualize our things to suit our personality and have security from banking systems to obtaining security for our opinions and expressions. Some readers may agree with this statement, others may not. The irony is that we write and publish whatever we want but when we finally do decide to publish we are flooded with laws and agreements, copyright, censorship and media panics. Do we live in a confused society? The answer is that, (as Innis states) we live in a society where each medium has its significance for the type of monopoly of knowledge which will be built (around it).” In our society it is the internet, specifically, blogging or twittering which emphasizes the idea of liberalism and is the monopoly of knowledge. At the time of writing, Harold Innis’s argument had a basis on Empires and in this Blog, I will attempt to persuade and demonstrate to the reader, that even today Harold Innis’s argument is most relevant. We live in an era conceptualized, though Virilio as the Infowar or the “industrialization of the non-gaze,” or Salvo’s “System Age,” we can even think of today’s society as the Age of the Apple Empire, preceding this we had the “Microsoft Empire and in many ways it is still dominant. Examples of media from history through to today will show how we still live in an age where particular mediums create a monopoly of knowledge.
It is essential to introduce the idea of time and space based media in reference to the types of monopolies of knowledge that they create. This is important as to gain a broader understanding on how Empires were structured during the BC and AD centuries. We have an understanding that during and pre third century BC clay was the dominant medium used. Clay was very much a time based medium. Time based media means that it was immobile, and thus could not travel. I believe that time based media in an understanding of Ancient Civilizations could be categorized or defined as not purely to communicate, or for social relationships but rather for religious or sacramental purposes. To set a scene here, it is essential that we think of the Egyptian and Roman Empires in order to gain an understanding on how clay was used (as a time based media) and how it influenced the monopoly of knowledge created at that time to understand Harold Innis’s point of view.
EGYPT AND CHANGE
In Harold Innis, the idea of the Sun God- Ra plays a large role in how creative thought was composed during that period in time. Through sculptures and architecture we can see that clay and chiseled stone was used as decorations and also used to a small extent as represent worship. This later turns into Hieroglyphs which was more common on papyrus and used much later, thus displacing the particular type creative thought that was implemented before. In other words, in quoting Harold Innis, “The position of the monarchs was strengthened by the idea of immortality; and, the pyramids and the elaborate system of mummification carried with them the art of pictorial representation” (p.33). The chiseled stone as a medium became more meaningful and created a different type of creative thought around it and then once it was necessary to maybe create calendars and understand the times of worship the medium changed as a different creative thought immerged. As I have begun to explain this phenomenon, staying on the same note, the representation of the Sun God began to change to represent the Nile and the Sun. This is important as according to Innis, papyrus was founded at the Nile. Papyrus thus came to displace the creative thought and monopoly of knowledge that was initially created by the pharaohs to a scribal culture. Wars and trade routes enabled the papyrus to have a larger significance on the society. The creative thought of religion began to change and included the political arena, with the New Kingdom having more control over the society. Papyrus enabled control of the monarchy to the people. The creative thought that was prominent at a later time started to have a more administrative role; and including, collecting taxes and gradually developing to documenting assets. At this stage we begin to see how publishing becomes more prominent. It is evident that once things become documented and archived we move onto a different monopoly of knowledge. I have attempted to set the scene of Harold Innis’s arguement that time based media such as clay and stone had a different monopoly of knowledge that was based on religious purposes. Once space based media developed we have a more political, social stratified monopoly of thought which creates a larger creative thought. If the reader is interested in the development of this, it is essential to read, Harold Inni’s “Empire and Communications.” (2007, Dunburn Press Ltd).
A MEDIA EMPIRE AND AUSTRALIA
In this Blog, I would like to make known that like in the Egyptian Empire our society remains very much the same. I will now skip to over a thousand years ahead and show what I mean by living in, what I call the “Age of iCreate.” During the twentieth century we have an interesting convergence in the media. An example of this is the printing press and online media. We begin to understand here that Harold Innis’s concept of the conditions that are suited to creative thought are displaced by a new medium with a particular type of monopoly of knowledge. This section will outline what type of monopoly of knowledge the printing press created and the creative thought that surrounded it. In addition to this a more current outline will also be given through the similar process with books and the new e-readers. In Australia we can without doubt state that a monopoly of knowledge was created by the printing press. The creative thought that existed was also highly organized and structured. Before I explain some of the most famous Australian media moguls and their empires I would also like to state the idea of the printing press as a creative thought. Charlie Brooker’s humorous video on youtube demonstrates the type of creative thought in news reports though at a more recent setting.
Similarly, this is a Blog and I would like to express my thoughts and opinions to the public. Lady Gaga has released a new album. It is excellent everyone should buy a copy. Some tracks are good others not so good. Nevertheless, this is a pay per click blog and I believe that you must go and buy her album now. I highly recommend it. Come and read this Blog again.
The statement above demonstrates that even blogs have a particular authoritative structure. As mentioned, the newspaper is much older and works likewise. However, regarding the printing press it is essential to state the advertising revenue costs. It is evident that the existence of newspapers was due to the large advertising costs. This shows that the creative thought maybe based on journalism though can be displaced by a new creative thought which could be considered as advertising journalists. The idea that the journalists takes on a more versatile role to incorporate marketing roles as well as a political news journalist.
An alternative way of thinking in terms of the idea of monopoly of knowledge is through Murdoch’s, Fairfax, Packers and Sym’s eyes. These media empires have a responsibility to the public. I am talking about a journalist’s role to tell the truth. Although there are many variants of the meaning of truth, it is inevitable that when publishing the publisher is accountable to what is written. Laws of defamation and copyright are securities imposed to implement this, this works similarly to book publishing. The next question therefore, is to what extent is Lawrence Lessing’s Creative Common’s theory important? To a large extent, for instance newspapers are now viewed online and comments are open to the people to state their opinions. Now if someone wanted to use someone else’s work and publish it on this particular instance or different instance such as a social networking site, the idea that the work is used fairly and reworked in an appropriate and creative manner is absolutely fine, as long as the work is used fairly and it works here to use work’s which are well known rather than individual pieces that nobody has heard of and you claim as yours.
MONOPOLY OF KNOWLEDGE
For my last point, I would like to extend this concept of the “type of monopoly of knowledge which will be built and which will destroy the conditions suited to creative thought and be displaced by a new medium with its peculiar type of monopoly of knowledge,” using a different example that directly shows the impact of the Empire and its hidden secrets. I introduce to you “Energy Efficiency.” This is a complex way of understanding how the media directly influences our society, therefore I will return to the Egyptian God Ra. Ra was the Sun God, he was represented through pictures, however he became more religious and well known as time based media turned into space based media. Therefore, it is relevant to say that like the Sun God Ra, we have depicted an energy efficient society through pictures. (Please note that I refer to Energy Efficiency as it is the Climate Change in Australian Politics.)
Like the sun God, it became known that due to air pollution that causes global warming (another old term) our daily habits should change. As we live in a democratic liberal society, during this time in the late nineties which I call the ‘Green Era’ to the current time, skeptics were critical of this thesis. Furthermore to add a more complex story, politicians started to become skeptical of the theory as well; and in the midst of all the chaos the idea of “The Apocalypse” had arisen in the media-scape. So Green had turned into Blue, literally, we started thinking of concepts to save water and be more energy efficient in daily lives. Anyway, people such as the American Al Gore decided to make the scientific theory a little simpler through the media. So yes, he created ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ and although this gained an astounding media coverage its core purpose was not served. People were touched during the film but did not need to adapt different energy efficient manners, as the foundational problem lay at the larger sphere which was, the US, International Airlines, and Global Electrical and Gas companies.
To elaborate, our society needed more than just a visualization of the effects of global warming we needed the idea of the visualization and the idea of the senses. In a modern sense of the term, the creative thought that surrounds climate change is visualizations, therefore for example, photojournalists would be considered important to play a role in making clear the impact of climate change. However, in our current day and society, the technology of the camera has been displaced by more intelligent programs. This is our desire to gain a more authentic and real picture. Satellite images, and futuristic photos will touch into our senses, and if we had a hot sphere to hold onto, like an Amazon Kindle (e-reader) we would feel more in control and maybe more determined to make a difference. Thus, now in Australia we may not think that we are conserving energy but the large electricity taxes, and energy saving retail stores that are slowly appearing in towns are here to take over and in a good way for the long term; though primarily in the same way that the press and media works.
What is the Print Media http://www.hi.com.au/bookstore/Library/pdf/CAPrint.pdf
The Information Age is Over http://scienceblogs.com/collectiveimagination/2009/12/the_information_age_is_over.php
Chronological Time Line (Of Publishing Technologies) http://www.xs4all.nl/~knops/timetab.html
John Armitage Beyond Post Modernism http://www.ctheory.net/articles.aspx?id=133
Innis, Harold, The Press: A neglected factor in the economic history of the twentieth century. London: Oxford University Press1949
Innis Harold, ‘Empire and Communications,’ Dunburn Press Ltd, 2007
Naughton, John (2009) ‘The original Big Brother is watching you on Amazon Kindle’ The Guardian, July 26, http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2009/jul/26/amazon-kindle-book-deletions
Kirn, Peter (2010) ‘How a great product can be bad news: Apple iPad and the closed Mac’, Create Digital Music, January 26, http://createdigitalmusic.com/2010/01/27/how-a-great-product-can-be-bad-news-apple-ipad-and-the-closed-mac/