Tag: Birkets

An Electronic Age

Everyday our world takes more and more transitions to an electronic driven lifestyle. When I first came to college I was introduced to the app Venmo. Venmo is the idea of electronic money transactions to each other. For example, if I were to split a pizza with my friend, one person would buy the pizza and the other person would “Venmo” the other. The idea of venmo is pretty much another bank account. A person can get away with not bringing their wallet anywhere and “Venmoing” people for things. Our lifestyles have become more and more reliant on electronics as we grow older. The idea of pocket change has been replaced by debit cards and even now books are transitioning to electronic articles. The use of books as a primary source is slowly being forgotten.

Browsing the Electronic Literature Collection was a disappointing experience for me. I briefly skimmed a few of the different games and readings, but spent most of my time on the “Chemical Landscapes of informal writing.” This was truly an unconventional writing. The writing had a title page, and when the reader clicks on the title page, it transitions to a paragraph. Where the reader clicked on the title page depended on which paragraph came up. The reading however, was a jumble of words that would fade before you could read the entire paragraph. It took a few rounds for me to truly read one whole paragraph. I would not consider this a form of literature in any sense but one. Birkets defines literature as something immersive. The “Chemical Landscapes of informal writing” immersed me because I was genuinely curious what the rest of the paragraph had to say.

Birkets would agree with me that this is not literature. Literature for Birkets is textbooks, novels, poetry, and other WRITTEN forms of literature. He wrote, “the difference between words on a page and words on a screen is the difference between product and process.” Reading this excerpt took me back to the readings of “The Medium is the Massage.” The medium is not more important because the medium is making readers lazy. On the Macintosh computer, someone can use the find tool to find keywords, so a reader can find exactly what they want to find in a matter of seconds without reading the entire passage. I agree with Birkets in saying that conventional literature immerses the reader into the writing.

Technology can be a useful tool but should not be abused. Our world is becoming more reliant on these forms of technology which makes it nearly impossible to ignore electronic literature. Electronic literature appeals to different people, but not to me.  There is something about sitting on your porch and reading a good novel that appeals to me.

What is the medium?

In today’s society, we are run by social media and alternate news sources. The presidential campaign was a turning point in my personal views of social media. Our current President of the United States, Donald Trump, constantly brings up the idea of “fake news.” Although I do not fully agree with his statement that the news is never right, I will agree that social media allows for different facts and statements to be skewed in a way that leaves viewers with an altered mindset. During the election, I decided to delete my twitter account because I could not stand to read different people’s strong opinions on the presidential candidates.

Marshall McLuhan, author of Medium is the Massage, understood the media before his time. In his novel, he argues that technology is changing society and the way people think and behave. He is not necessarily talking down on the advancements in technology, because the medium is the message. To McLuhan, it is not essentially the message that is put forth, it is the way that it is brought to us. He introduced the idea of the emergence of a “global village” and the unification of people through these technologies. During his time, there was no Twitter, Facebook, or instantaneous ways of finding news. McLuhan’s ideas, although presented before our time, are completely relevant. The way that information is brought to us, the medium, is more important than the message itself. McLuhan writes, “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (McLuhan, 10). He further argues that, “All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered” (19). This is interesting because we do not understand how engulfed our lives are, in technologies. We use technology for everything. He believes that these technological progressions are inevitable, but not necessarily bad. These technologies unite humanity into one big global village. Me deleting my twitter account during the election was stupid according to McLuhan. For it is not what I was reading, but the fact that I could read what my second cousin who lives in Krakow, Poland was writing, instantaneously.

This idea is different from Birkets who believes that these progressions in technologies are diminishing our language and the idea of literacy. McLuhan uses the word “outdated” when referencing older news sources which would frustrate Birkets. The Medium is the Message tells the story of our technological advancements uniting humanity into one big global village, while the writer of the novel didn’t even know the power of social networking in place today.



McLuhan, M. (1967). The Medium is the Massage. Corle Madera, CA: Ginko Press Inc. .