It is worthwhile to be reminded from time to time that the idea that there was once such a thing as the “good old days” is a myth. The same complains gets repeated generation after generation. Case in point: Many moderns argue that the old means of communication are dying.
- There is the lostart of letterwriting.
- There’s the lost art of conversation.
- The Internet makes you a loner.
- Text messaging kills your grammar knowledge.
- Writing will make us all dullards without the ability to remember anything on our own.
Well, I guess that last complaint is a bit older. Remember Plato? Of writing, he once said:
The specific which you have discovered is an aid not to memory, but to reminiscence, and you give your disciples not truth, but only the semblance of truth; they will be hearers of many things and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing; they will be tiresome company, having the show of wisdom without the reality.
“Said” is here meant ironically, considering that the only proof we have Plato ever said anything was because somebody wrote it down — years after the fact, likely wrongly and probably with a heavy interjection of personal interpretation. I’m looking at you, Socrates.
But I digress.
The point is, every communications technology is disruptive to the technologies that existed before. There will always be adherents to the old ways, and the old ways will always be useful. It’s good to remember that there is no “right” way to communicate. There are merely different ways to communicate, and change to the standards by which we communicate should not be judged as better or worse because in the long-run, they are simply different that what came before.
(And yes, I fully realize the irony of me saying this when I work for a company that primarily makes its money from selling ink on paper carrying yesterday’s news.)
And now for some greatness from Web-comic XKCD, whose strip below inspired this post.