“A renewed interest in speech (perhaps influenced by twentieth century re-oralization, via phone, radio, TV, tape) tends to deflect attention from the historical significance of print…”  pg 327 / E. L. Eisenstein
Since their invention, all of the above devices have greatly influenced various facets of technology, the distribution of information and how society relates through communication.  Yet however profound their influences appear, now consider the iPod and how since it came out in 2001, that Apple has released 22 product versions to date.  Amazon’s ereader division (barely 4 years old) currently includes 12 Kindle models and Nokia’s historic ‘Cellphone Retrospective’ stems from 1982 forward:

While the telephone, radio, television and tape all contribute to the unparalleled rise behind producing ‘digital content’ — they fail to consider countless social networks, applications and other technologies that have virally populated throughout culture and the Internet while at the same time also reinvent the idea of speech yet again.Today as both institutions and individuals (involved politically, philanthropically, or in education, etc.) increase their online participation, they also scamper to oust one another and establish their versed opinions as expert authority.  A earlier CNN article highlighted this growing trend in 2009 when it specifically compared the telephone to Facebook and how long it took each platform to reach 150 million users — 89 years compared to 5:

Moreover device production (i.e. mobile access to social community involvement) continues to flood the consumer market place increasingly each year.  Every new tablet release, cell phone model redesign, or laptop reconfiguration announcement cheapens the ‘value’ assigned to printed information maintained in archaic objects such as pamphlets, textbooks, etc.

The above argument from Elizabeth Eisenstein’s The Printing Revolution in Early Modern Europe– probes deeply into ideas on how oral tradition matched alongside persevering technological advancements significantly damages the ‘printing process’ and its historic role.  These intricate changes are weaving complex filters that all knowledge institutions (i.e. higher/lower education, Libraries, Museums etc.) who are in the practice of using printed materials to spread information must adapt to unless they stand indifferent to changing consumer behavior and readership patterns.

A few short paragraphs after her observation on page 327; Eisenstein circles back and further proposes “Perhaps it may also be useful to consider how speech itself (a parliamentary debate for example) is affected by printed publicity.” / 328— and now we sink further into the rabbit hole.  Online communities offer advocates for any industry (education or otherwise) a powerful combination of tools including both written, interactive and audio content.

But the question remains – which communications element (written or oral expression) offers the stronger ability to reform a knowledge institution’s rooted foundation?  Do well-composed, tightly focused posts, tweets, or blogs propel a brand effortlessly when crafted sharply or do people collaborating need to record conversation live then send out a promotional blitz to all relevant social networks? Should we think about where the content needs to go or focus on where it will eventually go despite our attempts to control information flow?

Tough question to consider when marching onward and upward;  Happy Spring 2012!