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Neil Postmans Amusing Ourselves to Death Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business was published in 1985 The theories and concepts described in the book could easily apply to todays world Postman goes to great detail in his book about the development of public discourse verbal and written communication over the centuries He explains how the development and evolution of communication over mankinds history has changed at critical points These critical points include the development of the alphabet the development of the printing press the development of the telegraph and the development of the television Postman argues that American society in particular is in danger since it relies so much on television Postmans book is divided into two parts Part one documents the development of communication in Western civilization The main course of his documentation is that the oral and printed methods of communication tend to be held in higher prestige because they take more brain power to learn and perfect If a person wants to learn in an oral or printed communication based culture he or she must learn the language memorize customs learn to read learn to write etc Postman even goes so far to say that print communication controls your physical body as well -- that a persons body must remain at least semi-mobile in order to pay attention to what the words are trying to say In chapter 4 Postman details how the development and success of the printed word in Western civilization created what he calls The Typographic Mind a mind set where a person from the 17th 18th or 19th centuries could endure and pay attention to lengthy written tomes or lengthy speeches Postman cites the 1858 US presidential debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas One debate lasted three hours while another in 1854 went seven When I read this I admit I was amazed I had known that the debates were important for many reasons but
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