ARTS2090 Final Essay – In Answer to Question 2


“That is the revolutionary change we are living through today – this transformation from transmission to communication.” – Alan Rusbridger, The Guardian (2010)

Since the advent of social media, the traditional intermediaries that were once solely responsible for providing the public with news and current affairs are now under threat. Online publishing technologies such as Twitter are revolutionising the way society receives, views and understands information and it could be said that the hierarchy of intermediaries is slowly vanishing. This essay aims to explain how traditional publishing methods are becoming increasingly irrelevant and prove why there should be a bigger focus on smaller, online news communities. The first part of this essay will talk about the traditional methods of journalism and how its role in society has changed. The second part will discuss modern publishing technologies and the way it has replaced traditional media in ways such as in archives and assembling attention.

“And yet the western father of printing has influenced cyberspace as much as anything that followed from his exertions in 15th-century Germany: the computer on which I’m composing this piece offers me 36 different typefaces in an assortment of sizes, from 9- to 72-point. That fact alone signifies a very remarkable form of evolution.” – Geoffrey Moorhouse (2002)

It is hard to believe that there was a time when simple tasks weren’t instantaneous, that each job required effort and was usually time-delayed. Simply, we were without technology for centuries and with the introduction of the printing press that “revolutionised the world” (Eisenstein, 1980), the change had started and is still occurring today in modern society. In traditional societies over the centuries, the distribution and publishing of information was heavily mediated and usually came from one source. With the introduction of the printing press came the challenge to the very authoritive nature of publishing; suddenly, anyone could publish and distribute their own information to the public.  This would absolutely change the “way humankind conceived of politics, of religion, of philosophy, of knowledge itself” (Brannan, 2007) and distributed the power of the word (and written word) to the ordinary people in society. An early example of this power shift challenging traditional intermediaries was when Martin Luther published his “95 Theses” in 1517, which sparked the Protestant Reformation; as explained by Ward et al, “the Reformation of the sixteenth century had its birth and growth in a union of spiritual and secular forces such as the world has seldom seen at any other period of its history” (1903). What this tells us is that the “new” publishing technology, the printing press, in this part of history had  begun to revolutionise the way society received information, much like Twitter in the modern age. Printing the “95 Theses” gave Luther the chance to publicise and communicate his ideas to a wider public than if it were only a speech or mere thoughts contained within himself. Similar to online publishing outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging sites where thoughts and ideas come together, the spreading of philosophies throughout history is what created the change that revolutionised media and its distribution.

“He [Luther] had none of the humanist enthusiasm for the language and the spirit of the past; what he cared for was the knowledge of human life which classical authors gave him.” – Ward & Prothero (1903)

The new era of printing culture was not only used as a method for revolution, it afforded a lot of conveniences to the public. With particular attention to religious sermons and public orations there was little to no threat of them becoming silent publications and in regards to politics it now allowed them to print parliamentary debates, affecting the way they interacted with each other (Eisenstein, 1980). The printing press brought with it a sense of “freedom” to philosophise, express and communicate new ideas with society. This is entirely similar to that of the Twitter revolution, where users can publish their own thoughts, opinions and facts for anybody to view and interact with. You could also call this a convenience to society as with the era of mobile technology, Twitter can be instantaneously updated from almost anywhere, with both sending and receiving data. Online publishing has completely taken over from traditional, static methods of delivering information and definitely has more power than the word, which is what society relied on before the invention of the printing press.

It becomes obvious after a lot of research that the hierarchy of traditional publishing throughout history is quite similar to the way the few media companies operate and distribute information in society today. Although you would hope there is less slant, opinion and bias in modern journalism than there was centuries ago when the news was filtered and mediated through the Church, it can be argued that there is still not complete impartiality in mainstream news. This issue can be attributed to the constant rise and rise of Twitter, which not only allows for users to publish information in its micro-blogging format, but affords social interactions and engages multiplicities (Marwick & boyd, 2010) which is something that traditional media failed to achieve.

Since the start of the printing press, there has not been such a revolution until the introduction of social media into our everyday life. The networks that we are constantly tuned into are the forms of publishing that we rely on, day in, day out. Although some still prefer newspapers and magazines, many have adapted to new forms of technology that affords the dynamic interactivity and integration society has been working towards. When the printing press was first used, it helped to distribute and record information, much like how social media networks work. Twitter and other blogging sites publish archives easily as they record time and date of the post and all can be easily retrievable in chronological order.

“In the Note, Derrida begins not ‘even at the archive,’ but with the word. He traces it’s meaning from the Greek Arkhe which names ‘at once the commencement and the commandment.’ Through this Note, he explores the authority of archives from the Greek superior magistrates, the archons, and the domiciliation of the archives as physical locations and most importantly outlines the way that archives appear to have authority, physical location and consignation but ultimately ‘shelter itself and, sheltered, to conceal itself.’”- Julie Enszer (2008)

With regards to paper archives, Parikka says “[O]ne needed to obtain permissions, make arrangements, follow strict rules of conduct, and get introduced to the whole system of how the archive is organised” (Parikka, 2013), but due to modern technology including all computers, mobiles and tablet devices, archives are simplistic and easy task. There are no more “obsolete and abandoned” (2013) archive places; instead archives are in our everyday lives and help give our lives order and structure. On Twitter when users converse with each other, the archives of the conversation are structured in time and date order ensuring an easy flow of understanding the information. This same structuring is applied to blogging sites, and even Facebook continually upgrades its features to better their archival system. Wolfgang Ernst’s theory that the most important part of studying media is the “time critical” (Parikka, 2013) aspect is the integral part of archives; the order and structure of the archives are critical of time.

In traditional publishing, before the printing press, when information was carried orally, it was absolutely important to pay attention to the speaker. It could be said that with the advent of printing as a means of publishing the attention span of society has weakened due to the fact that you could just simply go back to the information if its needed again. Since social media has been taking over in society as the main publisher of information, it is evident that our attention spans have been “invited, cajoled, conditioned and broken” (Kinsley, 2010). Society has an insatiable desire to constantly seek out new things, new information, new ideas (Yoffe, 2009) and this is completely affecting our attention spans and the way we function. Twitter, although it is an amalgamation of information, opinion and emotion, provides a means to seek out the desired information. Society has become addicted to knowing everything and this is a luxury only afforded by the networks of social media and new mobile technologies; a world of difference away from the publishing world a few centuries ago.

“For humans, this desire to search is not just about fulfilling our physical needs. Panksepp says that humans can get just as excited about abstract rewards as tangible ones. He says that when we get thrilled about the world of ideas, about making intellectual connections, about divining meaning, it is the seeking circuits that are firing.” – Emily Yoffe (2009)

It can be said that journalism has been completely revolutionised through the advent of social media, especially sites like Twitter, which allows for the publication and distribution of new information and ideas, much like when the printing press began many centuries ago. The hierarchy of the media companies that used to have control over the flow of information into society is slowly diminishing and in its place is a new era of dynamic online interactions. Publishing in the modern world has taken on the best parts of traditional media as well as networking it, such as with Twitter and blogging sites, to ensure that the information is accessible to society. As Rusbridger stated, there has been a change in the transmission to the communication (2010) and the revolution of the publishing world has only just begun.

“As with the early 16th century, it’s our privilege, as a generation, not only to imagine the future of information, but to take the first steps on the road to recrafting the ways in which it is created and spread.” – Alan Rusbridger (2010)


Brannan, B. A. (2007). The Laser Printing as an Agent of Change. (S. e. Baron, Ed.) Agent of Change: Print Culture Studies after Elizabeth L. Eisenstein , 353-364.

Eisenstein, E. (1980). Defining the initial shift: some features of print culture. In E. Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change (Vol. 1, pp. 43-163). Cambridge University Press.

Enszer, J. R. (2008, November 16). Julie R. Enszer; ‘Archive Fever: A Freudian Impression by Jacques Derrida’. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from Julie R. Enszer:

Kinsley, S. (2010, October 12). Paying Attention. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from The technics of attention:

Marwick, A., & boyd, d. (2010). I tweet honestly, I tweet passionately: Twitter users, context collapse, and the imagined audience. New Media & Society , 13 (1), 114-133.

Moorhouse, G. (2002). The font of all wisdom. The Guardian UK . UK.

Parikka, J. (2013). Archival Media Theory: An introduction to Wolfgang Ernst’s Media Archaeology. In E. Wolfgang, Digital Memory and the Archive (pp. 1-22). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Rusbridger, A. (2010, November 19). The splintering of the fourth estate. The Guardian UK . UK.

Ward, A. W., & Prothero, G. W. (1903). The Reformation. (A. W. M.A, Ed.) The Cambridge Modern History .

Yoffe, E. (2009, August 12). Seeking: How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous. Retrieved June 11, 2013, from Slate:


Thank You, ARTS2090


We’ve come to the end of an era… well, semester, and it’s time to say goodbye to ARTS2090.

What an interesting subject! I know I loved learning about the different aspects of publishing, from the first lecture working our way through history to modern publishing times in the lectures after.

Ye Olde Typewriter [Credit: UTAS,]

Ye Olde Typewriter [Credit: UTAS,]

From archive fever to attention vs distraction, ARTS2090 has taught me a lot of things that I have used in the real world, and in my field of work. My favourite module would have to be making the invisible visible, and that would have been the most favourite assessment task I’ve ever completed in my whole life!

What I Liked

  • 1.5 hour lectures!
  • Distracting myself in lectures…. oops
  • Having all the information for the subject on a neat blog with everything succinctly wrapped up
  • 1.5 hour tutorials which were helpful and informative
  • My tutor, hi Michael! You taught me a lot.
  • Learning about all interesting aspects of publishing and the invisible becoming visible
  • The group assignment

What I Didn’t Like

  • Blogging
  • The lectures were on too late in the day on a Monday so I found I hardly had any focus!
  • Too many readings, was a little confusing
  • Blogging
  • Lectures were at times a little too fast paced and confusing
  • Did I mention blogging?

Thanks for everything ARTS2090!

This represents me and most of ARTS2090 [Credit:]

This represents me and most of ARTS2090 [Credit:]

Attention vs Distraction



Living our lives amongst and through technology, it’s a wonder that we get anything done. It is so easy to become distracted and turn to Facebook or Youtube as a means of procrastination when we’re supposed to be doing uni work!! It is perhaps quite important then to practise habits of attention such as through yoga and meditation.

Social media has become the ultimate tool in blurring the lines between the ‘public’ and ‘private’, a type of publishing attention, especially for the lives of celebrities and micro-celebrities (such as on Twitter and Instagram). See, already a quarter a way through my blog post I’ve already checked Facebook 3 times, changed the song on iTunes twice and made a phone call!! Okay make that Facebook 4 times…


Distractions are all around us [Credit: The Uniter.]

Distractions are all around us [Credit: The Uniter.

The Commons

The commons act as an essential publishing means through which our attention is attracted or diverted and promotes a culture of creating, sharing and distributing creative works.

There are a myriad of social consequences of the commons; the media that shapes our attention that are supposedly private can sometimes have repercussions, such as apps like Snapchat where the photos are only supposed to last for 10 seconds or less but can actually be retrieved from the phone’s memory/archive.

Harry Potter’s Invisibility Cloak


I think we all remember this scene… [Credit:]

The way we visualise the invisible depends on the medium that we use to do so. For example, when I fly to Perth, I literally have no concept of where I am, but if I turn on the “Flight Path” channel on the in-flight entertainment system, I can see exactly where in the world I currently am flying over. The invisible flight path is illuminated by the dotted line and the plane symbol shows the exact location- perfect!

I believe that things such as Facebook Check-Ins and Foursquare (geotagging) has really lead the way in the social media world in making the invisible, visible. There is a visible track of the places and photos of places that I have been to.

The reading by Paul Virilio (1997) explains that there has been an “industrialisation of vision”, which has altered our perceptions of vision in a negative way. I agree with this point, as we could use the smartphone to exemplify this “industrialisation”- people needing to constantly feel that they need to connect with people that aren’t physically there with them.

The Google Glass, when released, will be an absolute phenomenon and will re-revolutionise the already revolutionised social media, smartphone and switched on world. Although I understand that there is a myriad of privacy issues – I think that this kind of technology is going to really change the way we interact with each other. On the plus side, I already wear glasses so I’m all ready for them!!


Infotention, anyone?


What a cool guy Howard Rheingold is, with all his infotention-ing.

I mostly agree with Rheingold – in this day and age we are being exposed to so much information through the various media platforms we use, and in the words of Rheingold, we are “overloading” on this information.

How could you not trust a guy with different coloured eyebrows and moustache? [Credit: his website]

It has a lot to do with blocking out and filtering the information that we process throughout our daily lives, and Rheingold has actually developed a method to help people do this – smart guy.

I am hoping that I am able to do the filtering myself without needing this training though!!

“Infotention [is] a word I came up with to describe the psycho-social-techno skill/tools we all need to find our way online today, a mind-machine combination of brain-powered attention skills with computer-powered information” (Mindful Infotention: Dashboards, Radars, Filters, by the Howard Rheingold, SFGate, 2009).

I have just read this great blog about how to get students to practice Infotention mindfulness to get them to focus on the tasks at hand – something that would be very helpful to a lot of people I know that do a million things at once and have concentration issues (I might be talking about myself?)

(Right now I have been switching tabs between my blog and Facebook (infotention, anyone?), and continually losing my train of thought so I’m sorry if this is all jumbled.)

Mindful Infotention Map [Credit:]

Mindful Infotention Map [Credit:]

The Archive of Desire


Well, in case Professor Murphie didn’t want to continue being any more vague with his topics, this week is “desire” and on appearance it seems like it has nothing to do with Publics and Publishing… but on closer inspection I think it does.

With regards to the notion of archives, we are forever indulging in such things; we watch black and white films, we look at old photographs and we constantly use our memories as a storage facility… much like a very private archival system.

Physical archives are not sexy

Humans have a complete desire for archives, and we don’t even know it (unless we’re arts2090 students). Someone even wrote a book on it, however he was French and it was all in French… but it was published in 1996 and touched on a lot of these points.

Modern-day archive… even worse…

Now, excuse me so I can go and watch The Sound of Music on DVD and sing along to all the songs with the words that I’ve stored in my hard drive… I mean, brain.