Watch a brief animated history of media arts.
Media - now there's a word with lots of meanings. It can mean the stuff that scientists grow bacteria in, or it can be art materials; it's even a town in Pennsylvania! But what we're talking about here is mass media, the art of communicating to lots of people at once.
Way, way, way back in the day, this was not so easy. There weren't any TVs or movies or magazines or radios or computers - there wasn't even an Internet - no email!!! Like, how did people live?
There weren't even very many books - just enough for a few priests and kings and queens and other rich people to read. That's because it took forever to make a book - a whole bunch of monks had to sit around writing books by hand or somebody had to carve one whole page of a book out of a block of wood. Then in like 1440 a German guy named Gutenberg started using a bunch of little wooden letters to make up a page. That was called moveable type and it went on a printing press and tons more books could be made in a lot less time, and pretty soon - well, hundreds of years, but who's counting? - more and more people were reading books - like the masses! It was mass media - but still mostly words.
Then, around the middle of the 19 th century photography was invented and everybody went crazy for pictures, like in magazines and stuff. Then came moving pictures - movies! - and radio, then TV, then computers and all those other thingies we love so much - cell phones, web sites, iPods, DVD's!!
Media has gone digital in a big way. Now we're all connected and communicating all over the world through tiny electrons that we can't even see! So the question is, does the media affect the message? Or, like Marshall McLuhan said back in the day, maybe the media IS the message.