John T. Harwood, a senior director of teaching and learning with technology at Penn State, said, “Our immense volume of electronic communication only exists as long as its medium does.” What does this mean? All types of communication are continually changing, and mediums will never remain the same because of nonstop innovation. In this composition, I will analyze the YouTube video, “ The Machine is Us/ing Us” by Michael Wesch in relation to the argument behind Baron’s article, “From Pencils to Pixels”, about how society accepts technology advancement, but remains cautious until perceived as valuable and useful for improvement of human communication.
In the article, “From Pencils to Pixels”, Baron explains the evolution of communication throughout history to today’s writing technologies. He proclaims writing itself is a form of technology that is always evolving in the field of communication. He describes how production of technology in any generation remains skeptical until society realizes the practical use of it. Baron explains how writing technologies allow people to communicate through different mediums that speech does not. He analyzed the evolution of the pencil, typewriter, and telephone to explain how communication and spoken language are always changing because of the benefits of the written language. Even though, Baron explains the benefits of accepting modern writing technologies, he also rationalized how people should be aware of the liabilities that modern technology possesses. For example, Baron covered how innovative technologies provide new learning opportunities but for digital fraud, as well.
From parchment to the printing press to computers, methods of written communication are continuing to revolutionize. The YouTube video, “ The Machine is Us/ing Us” by assistant professor of cultural anthropology, Michael Wesch, presents digital media as an example of how utilizing updated writing technologies are beneficial, and how people must become aware of the future of technology. In the video, Wesch shows the differences between handwritten language and digital text. At the start, a person demonstrates the use of handwritten text. As they compose, they are writing and erasing; which shows that handwritten language or text is linear and narrow as compared to digital text. The video describes digital text as “flexible”. Digital texts’ flexibility of a word processor and other mediums used on the computer allow people to write and edit his or her work continuously without getting a hand cramp. As the video states, “ Digital texts can do better. Form and content can be separated.” Form and content separation are the distinction between the actual meaning of a document and how the document visually presents the meaning to its readers. HTML is the form, the structure of the document, and the visual presentation of the document is its content. As Wesch describes in the video, HTML was the start of writing on the computer, and eventually, “As HMTL expanded, more elements were added, including stylistic elements, like <b> for bold, and <i> for italics” (Wesch). However, HTML’s form and content were inseparable, therefore, inventing HML offered form and content separation through different elements like “<link>, <title>, and <description>”. Hand written communication is incapable of form and content separation, and Wesch makes this awareness to the public because he emphasizes how writing technologies evolved over the years. The addition of HML is an example of technological advancement of HTML, and people had to be aware of it while utilizing digital text. Society became appreciative of this when they did not have to learn complicated codes to upload to the computer. Once society understood this concept, uploading more than just text became prevalent, for example, the innovations of multimedia like YouTube and Flickr. The example of HMTL and HML aligns closely with Baron’s article because he explains how people adapted from written to spoken communication with the innovation of the telephone. People originally did not see the device as useful, and now, today’s society functions around the telephone. He notes this change by explaining we adapt to technologies over the years. On page 26, Baron continues to say, “The introduction of the telephone for social communication also required considerable adoption of the ways we talk.” This explains Baron’s theory about how society should accept technology. Once people saw the usefulness of the telephone, they accepted the device, and learned how it could further human communication even more.
In “Pencils to Pixels” and “The Machine is Us/ing Us”, Baron and Wesch deliver sound arguments about accepting the future of technology. Both authors share how society should be aware and accept new writing technologies, but also remain aware until society believes they are useful and will help further communication.