Media & the Alphabet

Where would Media be without the Alphabet

April 9, 2013

Historically, the goal of media was to tell communities about the news and to chronicle historical events. Media grew out of the custom of story telling. While the stories (and news) differs from culture to culture, they all share a common building block: the alphabet.

Semiotics, the study of symbols, is at the root of all consonants and vowels. Many letters and sounds derive from the same set of symbols. Over time those symbols have evolved. For example, the Latin alphabet evolved from the Greek alphabet which is a phonetic language. It has been speculated that the Latin influence in the English language was major.

The Romans used the Greek alphabet as a basis for their own letter compilation, creating upper and lower case lettering. Writing appeared in straight lines contributed to the notion that typography was significant. It also standardized the alphabet which created an ideal climate for one of the world’s most impactful inventions.

The printing press changed everything for the media in 1439 because it made reading (learning) more accessible.  Movable type made it possible to more easily produce written materials without the laborious efforts of scribes. Mass produced books led to mass production of news and media around the world.

Today’s cyberspace world – filled with the most extraordinary graphics - still relies upon the alphabet. Imagine where we’d be if the alphabet had not been able to keep up with our need to communicate. 

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