In this day in age computers control everything. All the information that one absorbs is through some sort of screen. Everything we as people perceive is through a plate of glass and yet we do not acknowledge this divide. We do not acknowledge the fictitious nature of the computer screen and electronic media. In the digital age, “within the spectrum of the general data flow, television and radio, cinema and the postal service function like individual windows for one’s sense perception.” (Kittler 33) Through this window all of our information is presented to us. Kittler brings this filter to our attention: what kind of tint is being placed over the window and, consequently, over our vision?
The fiber optic world has simultaneously joined together all forms of information transmission and storage. In previous centuries, the highest form of storage was writing. One could immortalize a person or an idea through the written word. Separate from that was the gramophone and separate from that were silent films. “In computers everything becomes number: imageless, soundless, and wordless quantity. And if the optical fiber network reduces all formerly separated data flows to one standardized digital series of numbers, any medium can be translated into another.” (Kittler 32) When one medium blends into another, it is difficult to ascertain from what perspective receiving information. For example, the McGurk effect is only possible or at least only discoverable because of this synonymous digital media form. This begs the question: what exactly am I hearing, seeing, and perceiving? In such a synonymous digital world it is difficult to tell the origin or the validity of something. Acoustic sound was an actual reproduction of sound while digital recording is a recording. The nature of a recording is that it is removed from the original sound. It is open to manipulation and, I that sense, the sound is no longer the thing it imitates but something completely different altogether.
From this digital conglomerate the death of the written word as a form of “hallucinogenic” stimulation in the human mind is realized. All of a sudden, our imaginations no longer need to serve us, “the dream of a real, visible, or audible world arising from the words is over. The historical synchronicity of cinema, phonography, and typewriter separated the data flows of optics, acoustics, and writing and rendered them autonomous.” (Kittler 44) Now, the human mind must be stimulated by two or more senses for information to resonate. The attention span of human being is being pulled into many directions at once as a result of this synchronization. People must be able to multitask. The nature of our sensory memory is that we do not transfer all the information we receive into memory. Individual mediums make it easier for the human mind to organize each sense without convoluting the consciousness. At this point, our generation has its face shoved against the window of an I-pad or I-phone and peripheral vision has become obsolete. “The fact that the symbolic is called the world of the machine liquidates the megalomaniacal assumption of so-called man that he is distinguished by the “quality” of having a “consciousness” and that he is anything more than a computer.” (Kittler 46) In our world, holograms are our hallucinations, movies are our dreams, the song on the radio is our thought process – prerecorded and manipulated to a certain tune.
This is not to say that digitization is a bad thing. Fiber optics have immortalized information and have made storage and transmission more capable than in any other time, but, at what cost? What is the point of having all this information if there is too much of it to access without Google? When we as a people become reliant on search engines for knowledge we become vulnerable to an outside influence that ultimately directs the flow of information to our screens or “windows”, thus our perspective of the world is confused.