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Lisa Gitelman, Geoffrey B. Pingree
New Media, 1740-1915
<book> The MIT Press
The contemporary rhetoric on 'new media' and their absolute novelty deserves a documented deconstruction to bring to the attention of contemporary culture the historical and cultural roots that immaterial media have in the organic ones which existed before them. As the authors state, "all media were new, once", and the essays collected here make possible to cross a historical period (from the second half of 1700 to the beginning of 1900) which has been ignored by most contemporary intellectuals of electronic communication. The links and reciprocal influences between the different media (such as between the telegraph and the cinema, described in a brilliant essay included in this text) have played a very important social and cultural role before the invention of terms like 'intermedia' and 'multimedia'. Also, the announced 'death' of a medium to make space for a new one is a form of propaganda which was used several times and which has sistematically failed: the specific features of a medium and its peculiar ways to transmit information always survived its announced demise. Being history conscius should allow to avoid repeating the errors of the past, providing a solid base of theory and experience to unpredictably evolve the use of the means of communication of our time. For this reason, texts such as this should be part of the culture of professional communicators, who should not content themselves with fragile self-referential technicisms and the cult of novelty.