the bias of communication

At Epcot, a Disney World theme park, there is a ride located inside of Spaceship Earth (the large globe located at the beginning of the park). The ride takes you through scenes of cavemen developing the first spoken languages,  Egyptians inventing a system of hieroglyphs and papyrus,  merchants developing a written alphabet, Aristotle addressing audience members in a theater, a charioteer carrying messages to and from a Roman court, Islamic scholars discussing texts, a monk inscribing a manuscript, and Gutenberg carrying out his printing press. The ride takes you through each scene ending in a world we have yet to experience; a world well equipped with very advanced technology. The theme – the development of communication – is obvious throughout this ride.

Never been on the Spaceship Earth Ride? Don’t fret, you can experience it here or better yet, read The Bias of Communication by Harold Innis.

While reading The Bias of Communication, I felt as though I was on this ride, traveling through the ages of communication in chronological order. The detailing on the different mediums of communication and how they affect the content of the message being sent is well portrayed in this piece by Innis. Innis takes you through the history of communication, detailing upon details of how different mediums change media content.

I’ll admit, it is a lengthy reading that could have gotten its point across in fewer sentences and I had some trouble analyzing everything that was stated but I think I got the main point, which is that it’s important what we write our ideas on. We are bounded by time and space. Time media allows me to physically experience historical architecture like the coliseum and understand the history of it. Space media allows me to experience history through texts, images, and history lectures. Both types of media allow our ideas to reach people, but time media is more set in location, while space media can travel far and time media will last longer and make stronger connections, while space media does not have a lasting ability and will make larger connections. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a time media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to stick around for a while but not necessarily making them available worldwide. If I write out my ideas and try to get them across in a space media fashion, I’m making it possible for my ideas to make it out to distant spaces but not necessarily making them available forever.

It’s as though we need to find a balance, like somewhere in between time and space there is some sort of balance. I guess iCloud lies somewhere in the middle of both ideas of media, but I still feel as though technology is advancing to the point of allowing this in-between media to be a part of our society and we will no longer have to worry about what the content of the message we are sending is and what the medium of that content is.

Any ideas of how we can find a balance? Do you think a balance is possible?


What do you think about Innis? Did you understand him differently than I did?


About MegMia
journalism major who brings a little optimism to a world full of pessimism.

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