Back then, Tad, a filmmaker and computer enthusiast, saw a future exploding with opportunities for visual artists on an unprecedented scale. Digital technology wasn’t just new technology, it was revolutionary change. Like the printing press, the Internet would soon democratize information to everyone no matter where they lived. Universal world education at last was a real possibility, changing everything for everyone forever requiring media literacy; the ability to communicate using words, pictures, images, graphics, music, color, font, and slang.
But in 1998 there were no media literacy programs in school or public films made and aired daily.
He wanted to help change that. And so he created Northwest Film Projects, Inc. with the idea of working with the young to help train them on how to use media effectively.
Media has been around since the day of scribes. It is how cultures store and pass information along from generation to generation. Without it evolution of thought would not exist. Media, for most of history, was controlled by rich and powerful kings, not common people. Books were printed by hand, making them both rare to find and expensive to have.
It wasn’t until the invention of the printing press in the 15th century that information became common. Its invention and spread is widely regarded as the most influential event of the second millennium AD.
By 1500, printing presses in operation throughout Western Europe had already produced more than twenty million volumes. In the 16th century, with presses spreading further afield, their output rose tenfold to an estimated 150 to 200 million copies. The operation of a press became so synonymous with the enterprise of printing that it lent its name to an entire new branch of media, the press. And, as early as 1620, the English statesman and philosopher Francis Bacon could write that typographical printing has “changed the whole face and state of things throughout the world” (Wikipedia)
New media technologies, using nano technology, are revolutionizing our world through. CDs, DVDs, broadband TV, cell phones, and Wi-Fi. The Internet is not only a carrier of data, but a social network as well. Our central nervous system as virtual reality. The growth change in media is exponentially faster than our culture can absorb. You tube claims to receive sixty minutes of digital uploads every minute. No wonder there are cloud farms.
But instead of enlightenment we are getting misery. Misuse of media is leading us into unemployment, unrest, anarchy, and social disintegration because we do not understand how media works on our central nervous systems, and nobody is minding the store. An information culture operating without rules and standards is like using lead for cooking and eating utensils. Dangerous and destructive. McLuhan was right, the medium is the message and it’s time we stop treating media as an mere entertainment and propaganda outlet. Media literacy is learning how to convey complex ideas using sight, sound, color, and words to motivate and communicate in new ways with others. It is should not be used as an advertising machine. The future of media is not entertainment but education. If we learn how to use it wisely. The dangers of misuse are all around us.