Johnson's World: Musings, Droppings, Streams and Flashes (Part 6)

Vague musings, name-dropping, streams of consciousness, and occasional flashes of brilliance ... from Johnson’s World.

January 1, 2015
Steve Johnson10773449

A friend gave me a book with the dedication, “If you were a cat, this would be you.”

Henri le Chat Noir, YouTube phenomenon and cat video star, has his own book, a real book with high-quality photography and case binding. He also has a 2015 calendar. Another example of new media not only bolstering print but turning to the medium of print as an aid to climbing the ladder of legitimacy.

Cat videos on YouTube may number in the millions, but Henri is one of the very few who can lay claim to being published in print.


“I never expected all these cats.” —Tim Berners-Lee, waxing philosophical on his invention of the world wide web


How powerful is the printed word? Consider this excerpt from the famous 12th-century correspondence of Heloise d’Argenteuil to her lover Peter Abelard:

“If a picture, which is but a mute representation of an object, can give such pleasure, what cannot letters inspire? They have souls; they can speak; they have in them all that force which expresses the transports of the heart; they have all the fire of our passions, they can raise them as much as if the persons themselves were present; they have all the tenderness and the delicacy of speech, and sometimes even a boldness of expression beyond it.”

Whew! Don’t try that with an email.


In 1782, the Roman god Mercury became the first symbol of the United States Postal Service. These days he just delivers flowers.


Why is it that the only time illiterate people use “you know” in conversation is when you don’t know, and they don’t either?


There are over 7 billion people on Earth. 62 percent are not online, according to a recent report by McKinsey & Company.

Doesn’t this apply mostly to places such as Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Tanzania? Yes, but that number includes 50 million Americans. That’s 16 percent of the country.

Attempts have been made to slant the data to blame poverty for this, but the startling fact is that within the United States the top reason people do not go online is because they aren’t interested or think it is a waste of time.

How will you reach them?


“Before this century shall end, journalism will be the whole press—the whole human thought. Thought will spread across the world with the rapidity of light, instantly conceived, instantly written, instantly understood. It will blanket the earth from one pole to the other—sudden, instantatious, burning with the fervor of the soul from which it burst forth. This will be the reign of the human word in all its plenitude. Thought will not have time to ripen, to accumulate into the form of a book. The book will arrive too late.” —Alphonse de Lamartine in 1831 predicting the demise of books.

No, he was not envisioning the rise of electronic media although it sounds eerily so. He was in fact certain that it was the ascendant newspaper that would do in the book “by this century end.” He meant the 19th century, by the way.


It is often assumed that time spent online comes out of time people would otherwise use to watch TV. Statistics say otherwise. Nicholas Carr, in his book The Shallows, used data collected by Neilsen, Jupiter Research, Forester Research, and Ball State University to determine that average weekly television viewing hours are increasing even while online media viewing is skyrocketing. The moral is simple: the success of a new medium does not automatically correlate to the inverse decline of a mature medium.


Yes, but ...

“A new medium is never an addition to an old one, nor does it leave the old one in peace. It never ceases to oppress the older media until it finds new shapes and positions for them.” —Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan

And so it goes.


Happy New Year, from Johnson’s World.