Memosphere2009.03.31 09:57

In my first piece, I made two choices that were intimately related to the medium I chose --cyberspace. Firstly, rather than use a lower form of the Korean language, I chose to use honorifics. The Internet is not a place where one screams alone and disappears. Comments go up right away, the writer is influenced by these comments and his next piece evolves. It's a two-way street. Cyberspace is not a place where I simply proclaim something and disappear, but rather it is like a lecture hall where I share with you my knowledge and experiences. No one uses low forms of speech when conducting a dialogue with an audience. Accordingly, it was a natural choice to use honorifics.

In addition, I said I didn't know whether this serial would go on for dozens of installments or finish after just a couple. This is clearly a different approach from that of newspaper serials, which are run according to a table of contents in which the order of writing has been decided. This is because by leaving the fate of my writing to the interaction of cyberspace, posts can have an even greater sense of life. My writing will evolve, like a living organism, according to reader comments and my own circumstances. The Internet is not a newspaper published once daily or a broadcaster that changes its programming according to hourly time slots. In this space, the design of what I write follows the principles of the cyber world.

In my last piece, I defined not just newspapers and broadcasters, but all space in which meaning is exchanged as media. Do you, the readers, believe your own eyes? Are you confident that what you confirm with your own eyes is absolute fact? If so, why is it that magicians manage to fool us almost every time? Can you really believe your own eyes?

It has been pointed out that media controls content. Your eyes, too, are media. To put this a little more precisely, you see the world not through your eyes, but through the medium known as the optic nerve system of your brain. Even if information enters your eyes at the same time, the thing that decides what you see and what you don't see is your brain. The same world is seen in black and white through the eyes of a dog, but in natural colors through the eyes of a human. Media controls content. A magician is a person who has mastered the principle upon which your brain's optical nerve system operates. That is to say, he understands quite well that the brain is a very selective and incomplete medium that doesn't see things as they really are, but rather chooses only what it wants to see.

The optical phenomenon most loved by magicians is perspective. Newborn infants can't understand why their mothers keep getting bigger and smaller as they move closer and further away. The sense of perspective is not something we are born with, but rather an acquired capacity we obtain by training our brains over a long period of time. If you master the media's operating logic, you can also control the way the media's subscribers understand the world. You can control their worldview. It's all the same world, but between the readers of the Chosun Ilbo, JoongAng Ilbo and Dong-A Ilbo (Korea's three biggest newspapers, which are generally conservative) on one hand and those of OhmyNews on the other, that world looks completely different. Words don't convey this. Media controls content.

Marshall McLuhan once expanded media to the body. A hammer, the hand; a car; the foot; TV, the eyes... Media decides the content, but more importantly, media is the scope in which the world is contained. How does the world look? Nobody has gotten a view of what the world is. How many places can you actually visit in your lifetime? With the media known as your eyes, trying your best, the world you can see would be hard pressed to exceed a radius of several dozens of kilometers.

Despite this, you know the distant United States, you know Japan, and you know there is a place known as Europe. How can you believe those places are really there without actually going there? This is because newspapers and broadcasters have informed you that such places do exist. Your worldview is as large as the scope the media covers. If those who control the media showed you only what they wished to show you, your image of the world as you understand it would be nothing more than what they showed.

If even the simple question of whether something does or does not exist is this complicated, imagine how much more so the complex world of ideology and socio-political tension must be.

Ultimately, there is no way to know what the world genuinely looks like. Nor is there a guarantee that the world as you understand it and the one as I understand it will be the same. Even if someone said they would show you the world, strictly speaking, there would be no way to distinguish whether what he or she showed you was true or false. Even with things we see with our own eyes, all we can do is make a judgment based on probability. Why? Because media controls content. We can only be sure that our worldview will change in accordance with the media's expansion and transformation.

You can't worry about something that doesn't exist. For example, when did you start worrying about and having an interest in events in some far off country? Wasn't this because the media informed you of those events? Scholars call this media role "agenda setting." This means that the media, even if it decides to simply show something without presenting any political analysis or opinions, can control its readers' or viewers' worldviews and ways of thinking.

They say you see only as far as you know. I've changed this phrase somewhat -- you see only as far as the capacity of the media you choose. The world you come to know through that will become the thing you understand to be the world of reality. For example, there is a world with the Chosun Ilbo stamp, one with an MBC stamp, and another with an OhmyNews stamp. The only thing you can choose is the image of the world these media provide.

Just as electronic signals inputted into the brains of the masses controlled "reality" in the movie "The Matrix," there is no way to prove whether reality as you know it is a dream or real. You can only be faithful to the logic of the situation as you feel and understand it.

You are what you read - 身冊不二.

I'll conclude my second piece on this subject right here.

Posted by PSB

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