Mechanical Dances

Time machine

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If we could somehow transport an American through time from 1960 to 2014, she would have little trouble adapting to everyday life and surprisingly little reason to be surprised—-except in the areas of media and communications. As she walked along the streets, she would be puzzled to see many of the passers-by holding miniature walky-talkies to their ears or listening to music through headphones attached to tiny transistor radios. If she visited a home, she would find impossibly small computers everywhere—in a father’s or mother’s home office, in the children’s bedrooms, perhaps even in the kitchen. Occasionally she might find the family watching television together, but it could now be an enormous flat-screen of astonishing clarity with hundreds of channels.

But nothing in our media culture today would mystify a visitor from 1960 more than social media such as Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.

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