Hypermedia

I am writing this essay on a Macintosh computer, a machine that replaces the gears and levers of a
typewriter with a microprocessor, electronic circuitry, software, and a display screen. On the floor is a
modem, which lets my computer talk to other computers over the phone lines. There are more than 30
million people on the Internet whom I could reach via modem if I knew their electronic-mail address. I
check my E-mail; I’m carrying on several electronic conversations about this essay, and about other topics.
I check a few bulletin boards (there are tens of thousands I might look in on; I keep up to date with a half
dozen), looking for interesting information about computers and communications that might enliven my
essay, and keep it current. Occasionally I broadcast requests for information.

On top of the modem sits the telephone, and that, too, ties me in to an information network. There are more
than 500 million phones in the world, and if I knew the number and were willing to pay the bill, I could
reach any of them. And as I do my work, I almost always have the radio on, picking a station from dozens
of possibilities of broadcast entertainment and news. There is an astonishing electronic information
infrastructure surrounding me - surrounding us all.

But the electronic part of the information infrastructure is only a tiny fraction of what’s available to me.
Every morning the newspaper is thrown into the driveway. The paper is an amazing achievement, more
than one hundred pages of news, data, photographs, and advertisements pulled over electronic threads from
around the world, processed, organised, and delivered. Every day at about noon the mailman brings mail to
the box at the end of the driveway. It has been collected, sorted, moved, and delivered: a traditional
information stream, but an important one.

Behind me as I sit in my bedroom is a wall of books. Each of them has its own story - each one written,
edited, designed, printed, distributed. The author of each has spent months or years collecting information
though all of the channels mentioned here, and more, deciding what’s important, and figuring out how best
to state the facts, and how to make the case for his or her interpretation of them. Many of the books are
checked out of a library - an enormously effective information distribution mechanism, every bit as
impressive an achievement as the most modern computer network. Some have been obtained through
interlibrary loan, a system that moves thousands of books around the country every day. I swim in an ocean
of information. We all do. In this essay, I will be discussing about the communities that were developed
through newspapers and television. I will then discuss the communities that have been brought about by
‘hypermedia’ and how it has affected and constructed comm!
unities.

The terms communication and community share the same Latin root as the word common-communis. This
common denominator is important to the understanding of the process of communication on two levels.
First, the quality of the communication process is understood to be higher among participants who have
certain things in common, such as past experiences, values, and beliefs. These are also attributes of a
community of individuals. Second, the process of communication, mass or otherwise, requires encoding
(by a sender) and decoding (by a receiver), which can be achieved successfully only by participants who
share a common set of codes or language (Berger,1995).

Mass communications comprise the institutions and techniques by which specialised groups employ
technological devices (press, radio, films, etc.) to disseminate symbolic content to large, heterogeneous,
and widely dispersed audiences. As each new medium developed, existing media declined in use or adapted
to more specialised functions, but the overall tendency seems to have been for a steady increase until the
present, in the amount of time actually devoted to attending to mass communications. McLuhan (1995)
states that the railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society,
but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities
and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or a
northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or