The Message Is the Medium: Online All the Time for Everyone

By Tom Koch | Go to book overview

on the latticed network of interconnected computers. However, it is a richer medium, a broader data roadway than its predecessors. That does not mean, however, that old-style text-based UseNet groups will disappear, or that documents now accessible through, say, Archie or FTP will be discontinued. Hypertext is good for some things, but not for everything. After all, not every document requires pictures and sound. Messages define the medium, methods of presentation, and distribution; it is not the other way around. And so, as the Web grows, text-based systems will be retained. And, of course, the library catalog type of logic of the whole--of the center/library/bazaar--will be retained.

The important thing, really, is how these resources can be used by people, and not where they are stored or the system used to access them. That, simply, is why the World Wide Web has been so popularly received. It joins, in one online location, called a home page, a number of disparate resources. Those materials can be text, pictures, sound, or video clips. The "page" becomes a location in and of itself, each page a gateway to other at least potentially pertinent data. For "surfers," perhaps, that is enough. But for those of us who seek data to make information that can resolve the issues of our lives, the medium is less important than the facts and opinions which are returned in these searches. In our general infatuation with the medium, the purpose of searching has been forgotten. A treasure hunt may be fun, but its purpose is real. It is not to reach a spot marked "x," but to retrieve the gold that is supposedly buried beneath. No gold, no prize. Similarly, on the Net and across the online world, what is important is not the medium, but the messages it can deliver. No matter how enjoyable the search, or how impressive the technology, if it does not present the data needed, it is as useful as a beautifully drawn treasure map whose "x" reveals nothing but sand, water, and fool's gold.


NOTES
1.
The story of the origin of the interactive computer-based research and communications system has been told many times by different writers. See, for example, Patrick Crispen, Roadmap Course. (Filetype Lesson, Filename). October, 1994. (Litserv@UA1VM.UA.EDU Get Net Intro F-Mail). It is also told in most books purporting to teach Internet techniques.
2.
Patric Crispen. "Levels of Internet Connectivity," Roadmap Lesson 03, University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa. October 31, 1994, 2.
3.
Harley Hahn and Rick Stout, The Internet Yellow Pages. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1994.
4.
Jim Richards. "The Internet." CompuServe Magazine, September, 1995, 4.
5.
Aaron Weiss. "Hop, Skip, and Jump." Internet World, April, 1995, 41-44.

-123-

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The Message Is the Medium: Online All the Time for Everyone
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • 1 - The Medium is the Message" and Other Myths of the Evolving, Electronic Age" 1
  • Notes 13
  • 2 - Old News: The Necessity for Change 15
  • Notes 33
  • 3 - Everybody's Resource: The Knowledge Center 35
  • Notes 54
  • 4 55
  • Notes 75
  • 5 - Finding It: The Organization of Online Material 77
  • Note 99
  • 6 - The Internet: Fact and Context 101
  • Notes 123
  • 7 - Mute Dialogues: Hope and Despair Online 125
  • Notes 146
  • 8 - Virtual" Realities:" 147
  • 9 165
  • Note 184
  • 10 - Quality: Fact and Opinion 185
  • 11 201
  • Notes 219
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 229
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