Srimal's Essays
Friday, October 07, 2005
  TV, books and Internet

Communication methods and the media have developed vastly, over the last couple of years. This is broadly captured in the progression from conventional books to television and the internet. Each of these mediums of communication comes bundled with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. The following paragraphs aim to summarize and compare the strengths and weaknesses of each of these mediums.

Books have been used as a means of transferring information for many generations. The emergence of books saw to it that information was handed down from generation to generation. One of the key advantages of books as opposed to modern technology is that books can be taken anywhere. Television and internet are limited geographically to areas where the services are provided. Also a vast majority of information has already been compiled in the form of books. A disadvantage that is faced when using books is that information is not that easily searchable. This is especially true with books that do not have a proper index. Also it is difficult to preserve conventional books over a long period of time.

The television can be considered an important step forward, when it comes to mass communication. It can be used to reach a wider audience at the same time. Live broad casts have brought the world a lot closer than it used to be. In addition to this, information is disseminated faster using the TV as it provides an audio visual experience - so much so that sometimes even language is not a barrier. Consider the case of Hindi films which are widely enjoyed by so many, who hardly know any Hindi. However, a certain amount of infra structure is need to use this technology. It cannot be viewed with out a television set and proper TV reception. Also improper content that is broadcasted can make the TV a hindrance.

The internet can be considered to be the ultimate breakthrough in communication technology. A vast collection of information is instantly available at your fingertips. In addition to this, it can be searched to obtain the exact information that is needed. A major problem faced in modern times is what is commonly referred to as ‘information overload’. The Internet seeks to eliminate this problem with technologies like search engines which enable us to pin point the exact information that we require. However the penetration level of this medium is quite low, especially in developing countries, due to the technological infrastructure that is required. The internet is also blamed for providing easy access to anti-social content and pornographic material, although this problem is relevant to books and television as well.

In comparison, it is evident that books, TV and the Internet all have there own strengths and weaknesses. It is difficult to say which is better than the other. A more holistic conclusion would be to say that each medium compliments the other. Together the three methods of mass communication make information more accessible and useful.

- Srimal Jayawardena.

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