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The Appearance of Solidity: Media and Culture in the Electric Age

This collection of essays connected by the thread of media influence is an attempt to trace the logical result of the Gutenberg Press experience through print, telegraph, telephone, radio, television, and internet technologies. Using Marshall McLuhan’s insights as an impetus, this meandering tale draws upon novels, radio and television shows, film, and trending internet platforms and gaming to discuss the influence of media in a world increasingly wrapped in the fibre optic cables of the technological age.

Technological advances have always had a clear effect on the possible expressions of culture, but those are best seen in retrospect. Now, with the advent of the internet through YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and the world of gaming, the cultural shifts that are happening beneath our feet have become difficult to see. The stream of data has become a torrent, but its vacant noise obscures its exact shape. This idiosyncratic examination of those shifts is a commentary on the current of our times and an interrogation of the eddies and swirls of cultural influence and societal change.

New trends such as self-publishing have utterly transformed the established publishing industry, just as Netflix has transformed the reception of television, online piracy the notion of copyright, the cellphone the paper map and the camera, and YouTube the home movie. Like a skipping stone over the growing flood of the digital age, this study examines some of these trends more closely in terms of what we gain as a culture, as well as what the current leaves behind in its inexorable rush into the future.

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