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Shifting Semiosis

December 13, 2005

Two or three years ago I began talking about a “shifting semiosis” and I felt like Cassandra – although I wasn’t prophesying a disastrous war, but rather a massive, fascinating and largely positive change. It was clear to me that we were at the start of a change in the way we humans signify meaning that would dwarf the printing press, audio & visual recording, and mass media combined. And now, in my daily newspaper, I find that my intuitive recognition is being substantiated.

I read an article, linked to this post’s title, in the Toronto Star, www.thestar.com – called Old Idea, New Media. The subheading asks this provocative question –

Are you reading this text on paper, or as pixels? Does it matter? Some think not.

As newspapers realize that they sell content, not ink, their future is taking hold.

I put down my paper and went immediately to my computer and read the same story in pixels, because I wanted to share this increasingly undeniable change. I wanted to blog about it.

The article is about how newspapers are still remarkably profitable (many at 20% a year!)about how newspapers are a natural fit as a web portal, about how the papers’ managers are finally beginning to realize that, and about how transportable digital downloads are coming. I picture these as much like ipods in function but looking more like paper or a book.

So, yes, our semiosis is shifting! Not that I expect any more attention to my message than Cassandra got to hers. (In some ways I wish I was more like Paul Revere;->)

The papragraph that electrified me, which follows, clearly indicates that the web is a platform, not a medium.

A newspaper of the future might employ web editors for each section of the paper whose task would be to rapidly accumulate multimedia content relevant to each story. Articles posted on reformulated newspaper sites will be accompanied by related photos, audio and video clips, speech transcripts, discussion forums and archival images from the CBC, CPAC, C-SPAN, the National Film Board and other partners.

Such wonders we are seeing as human communication continues its development

  • from speech and drawings
  • to (chirographic) writing
  • to printed text and engravings
  • to photography, audio recording, film, & television

and now to versions of all of these available asynchronously on the World Wide Web!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    December 31, 2005 2:01 pm

    hi, i did invite you to write to me at acampnona@aol.com in a comments page of Dave Pollard in a piece he did on Presencing and dol. my interest in your work makes me write again to ask you to consider getting in touch.
    best wishes,
    andrew
    Oxford UK

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