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Lecture 2

Week 2 Readings.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Communication Studies
Ghislain Thibault

Readings Week 2: The Media of Early Civilization (p1-4)  The beginning of communications is impossible to pinpoint but not hard to imagine.  As the world became increasingly complex the need for “extrasomatic” memory became important (memory outside the body). This led to the development of media to store and retrieve information.  Schmandt-Besserat: reinterpreted old archeological finds in a new communications way. o Examined pieces from 12000 yrs ago – fourth millennium B.C, and the rize of great near eastern civilizations in Mesopotania and Egypt (thought to have been made possible through the creation of writing) o She says several old world societies were recording economic transactions through use of clay tokens, that we used to assume were toys and charms. They resembled ideograms (conventionalized signs that do not look like what they represent) These were the basis of the worlds first writing system.  Harold Innis: dealt with time and space concept, and thought communications deserved disciplinary or sub-disciplinary status o Examined communications after Mesotopia and Egypt. Bulk of his project dealt with Ancient empires and early western civilization o Elaborated history of comm. around a few core subjects, the most significant on pertains to time and space.  Old world civilizations had a specific cultural orientation that was spatial or temporal. (derived in part by the dominant medium it employed)  Eg. Stone in Egypt was durable, a “time-based” medium. It favored a centralized absolute government and divine kingship. It meant that astonishingly accurate calendars were made because stone was so solid and unchanging  Papyrus was then developed, a “space-based” medium. It allowed for administration over distance, which allowed the empire to expand, and a new bureaucracy was needed that was versed in the new medium  Marcia and Robert Ascher: show that it is not writing that allows for complex, state-level civilization, but just some medium for keeping records that is efficient and comprehensive. o Focus on ancient new world civilizations o Quipu was used for the Incas (ropes of different lengths, thickness and color that were knotted and braided to record census, crop prod. Etc.) o Rope was excessively transportable, which was used heavily by the Incas expansionist empire (going back to Innos’ notion of space based medium)  Andrew Robinson: o Sketches out issues in relationship between 3-D and 2-D accounting (tokens-writing). o Explores controversy over relationship between written and spoken language, and how the linkage between both differs from culture to culture. o Raises question of how globalization trends might push for new forms of communications. Eg pictograms used increasingly in public places- devoid of spoken/written language. o Shows similarity between old symbols (ancient scripts etc.) and new symbols of today Media in Ancient Empires (p14-21)  Harold Innis cont. o Writing on stone was very rigid, with straight lines or circularity of lines. It was very decorative because it was so difficult. The switch to papyrus permitted cursive forms suited to rapid writing, and as such, through slurring over and abbreviations writing ceased to resemble pictures and became script. o By escaping the heavy medium of stone, thought gained lightness o Writing used to be restricted to government, fiscal, magical and religious purposes, but with the simplification of writing administration became more efficient. o Scribes became highly valued persons. o The spread of writing after the democratic revolution was accompanied by the emergence of new religions  Clay and Cuneiform o By 2900 B.C. the form of t
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