I’m posting chapters of my 2009 masters thesis on digital media ecology and scripture. See more here.
I began my thesis with a quote from 1854 by Henry David Thoreau. He complains that modern advances of his time aren’t always helping us.
Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from
serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end
which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New
York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to
Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.
… We are eager to tunnel the Atlantic and bring the old world some weeks nearer
to the new; but perchance the first news that will leak through into the broad
flapping American ear will be the Princess Adelaide has the whooping cough.
Henry David Thoreau, Walden
150 years removed, it’s a little bit easier to smile about Thoreau’s pessimism. What a difference the telegraph made in the history of the world—playing a role in wars and culture and Christianity. I chose this quote because it so easily illustrated one of the number one rules of exploring the culture and media: it’s hard to see. For even talented people, culture is the water we swim in, everywhere and remarkable transparent.
- Chapter 1: Scripture In a Digital Context (pdf, 1.2mb)