…these short cuts are only permissible because one is and feels at home, among the family, where ceremony would be an affectation. For example, to save washing up, the dessert may be handed out on improvised plates torn from the cake-box (with a joke about ‘taking the liberty’, to mark the transgression, and the neighbour invited in for a meal will also receive his piece of cardboard (offering a plate would exclude him) as a sign of familiarity. Similarly, the plates are not changed between dishes. The soup plate, wiped with bread, can be used right through the meal. The hostess will certainly offer to ‘change the plates’, pushing back her chair with one hand and reaching with the other for the plate next to her, but everyone will protest (‘It all gets mixed up inside you’) and if she were to insist it would look as if she wanted to show off her crockery (which she is allowed to if it is a new present) or to treat her guests as strangers, as is sometimes deliberately done to intruders or ‘scroungers’ who never return the invitation.
Pierre Bourdieu. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Trans. Richard Nice. Routledge, 1984.
Electronics, like print in its early phases, is biased toward supporting one type of civilization: a powerhouse society dedicated to wealth, power, and productivity, to technical perfectionism and ethical nihilism. No amount of rhetorical varnish would reverse this pattern; only the work of politics and the day-to-day attempt to maintain another and contradictory pattern of life, thought, and scholarship. As Innis pointed out, the demise of culture could be dispelled only by a deliberate cutting down of the influence of modern technics and cultivation of the realms of art, ethics, and politics. He identified the oral tradition with its emphasis on dialogue, dialectics, ethics, and metaphysics as the countervailing force to modern technics. But support of such traditions or media requires that elements of stability be maintained, that mobility be controlled, that communities of association and styles of life be freed from the blinding obsolescence of technical change. However, the demands of growth, empire, and technology put an emphasis – in education, politics, and social life generally – on those media that fostered administrative efficiency such as print and electronics. Only by supporting the countervailing power of substantive rationality, democracy, and time would the bias of technology be controlled.
James W Carey. ‘Space, Time, and Communication: A Tribute to Harold Innis.’ In his Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Revised Edition. Routledge, 2009.