History’s curious way of repeating itself

This is the illustration on a lovely post by Nick Bilton discussing the way what John Seely Brown called ‘endism’ keeps cropping up in discussions of media ecology.

Bilton ends by saying:

Accusations of people “never leaving their house again” or books and the written word “ceasing to exist” didn’t start with the telephone or the phonograph. These assumptions come with each new invention or technology. Printing presses, telephones, telegraphs, phonographs, radios, moving images–are all born into a world where their antiquated predecessors are soon-to-be deceased forms of information delivery. They are the new, and the old will have no place in this novel world. That is, until the next thing comes along.

The way we tell stories and consume content inevitably changes with the birth of these new technologies. The voice of the predecessor doesn’t instantly die when a new form of communication arrives, it begins to morph and adapt to the changing climate, or as the current pundits aptly predict, it won’t survive. But take a 10,000 foot view–we’re just in the infancy of this wonderful melded form of journalism and media, where each form of broadcast borrows from the other as a method of storytelling. We’re not going to wake up tomorrow to find out that newspapers no longer exist. Yes, in the long run, a large contingent won’t survive, and the ones that do will tell stories very differently than they do today, carving out a new, ever-changing narrative. But this evolutionary process is going to take time. History tells us so.

He also includes a link to a splendid piece in Slate.