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Neil Postman

Geburtstag: 8. März 1931
Todesdatum: 5. Oktober 2003

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Neil Postman war ein US-amerikanischer Medienwissenschaftler, insbesondere ein Kritiker des Mediums Fernsehen, und in den 1980er-Jahren ein bekannter Sachbuchautor.

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Zitate Neil Postman

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„Wenn das Fernrohr das Auge war, das den Zugang zu einer Welt neuer Tatsachen eröffnete und zu neuen Methoden, um diese Tatsachen zu ermitteln, dann war die Druckpresse das Stimmband.“

—  Neil Postman
Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 73. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„Ohne konkrete Symbole ist der Computer bloß ein Haufen Schrott.“

—  Neil Postman
Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 123. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3-10-062413-0

„In vieler Hinsicht funktioniert ein Satz durchaus wie eine Maschine, und dies zeigt sich nirgendwo deutlicher als in jenen Sätzen, die wir Fragen nennen.“

—  Neil Postman
Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 136. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„Der Bürokrat, der sich mit einem Computer gewappnet hat, ist der heimliche Gesetzgeber unserer Zeit und zugleich eines ihrer größten Übel.“

—  Neil Postman
Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 125. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

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„Die Historiker wissen auch, dass sie ihre Geschichten zu einem bestimmten Zweck schreiben - nicht selten, um die Gegenwart entweder zu verherrlichen oder zu verdammen.“

—  Neil Postman
Das Technopol: die Macht der Technologien und die Entmündigung der Gesellschaft, S. 204. Übersetzer: Reinhard Kaiser. Frankfurt am Main, 1992. ISBN 3100624130. ISBN 978-3100624130

„In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: In order to understand what kind of behaviors classrooms promote, one must become accustomed to observing what, in fact, students actually do in them. What students do in a classroom is what they learn (as Dewey would say), and what they learn to do is the classroom's message (as McLuhan would say). Now, what is it that students do in the classroom? Well, mostly they sit and listen to the teacher. Mostly, they are required to believe in authorities, or at least pretend to such belief when they take tests. Mostly they are required to remember. They are almost never required to make observations, formulate definitions, or perform any intellectual operations that go beyond repeating what someone else says is true. They are rarely encouraged to ask substantive questions, although they are permitted to ask about administrative and technical details. (How long should the paper be? Does spelling count? When is the assignment due?) It is practically unheard of for students to play any role in determining what problems are worth studying or what procedures of inquiry ought to be used. Examine the types of questions teachers ask in classrooms, and you will find that most of them are what might technically be called "convergent questions," but what might more simply be called "Guess what I am thinking " questions.

„Print, in even more revolutionary ways than writing, changed the very form of civilization.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: Print, in even more revolutionary ways than writing, changed the very form of civilization.... the Protestant Revolution was contemporaneous with the invention of moving type.... the printing and distribution of millions of Bibles made possible a more personal religion, as the Word of God rested on each man's kitchen table. The book, by isolating the reader and his responses, tended to separate him from the powerful oral influences of his family, teacher, and priest. Print thus created a new conception of self as well as of self-interest. At the same time, the printing press provided the wide circulation necessary to create national literatures and intense pride in one's native language. Print thus promoted individualism on one hand and nationalism on the other.

„The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information. ...control mechanisms are strained...“

—  Neil Postman
Context: The relationship between information and the mechanisms for its control is fairly simple to describe: Technology increases the available supply of information.... control mechanisms are strained... When additional control mechanisms are themselves technical, they in turn further increase the supply of information. When the supply of information is no longer controllable, a general breakdown in psychic tranquillity and social purpose occurs. Without defenses, people have no way of finding meaning in their experiences, lose their capacity to remember, and have difficulty imagining reasonable futures.

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„Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: It may come as a surprise to our technocrat philosophers, but people do not read, write, speak, or listen primarily for the purpose of achieving a test score. They use language in order to conduct their lives, and to control their lives, and to understand their lives. An improvement in one's language abilities is therefore... observed in changes in one's purposes, perceptions, and evaluations. Language education... may achieve what George Bernard Shaw asserted is the function of art. "Art," he said in Quintessence of Ibsenismn, "should refine our sense of character and conduct, of justice and sympathy, greatly heightening our self knowledge, self-control, precision of action and considerateness, and making us intolerant of baseness, cruelty, injustice, and intellectual superficialty and vulgarity." …For my purposes, if you replace the word "art" with the phrase "language education," you will have a precise statement of what I have been trying to say.

„What causes us the most misery and pain... has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: What causes us the most misery and pain... has nothing to do with the sort of information made accessible by computers. The computer and its information cannot answer any of the fundamental questions we need to address to make our lives more meaningful and humane. The computer cannot provide an organizing moral framework. It cannot tell us what questions are worth asking. It cannot provide a means of understanding why we are here or why we fight each other or why decency eludes us so often, especially when we need it the most. The computer is... a magnificent toy that distracts us from facing what we most need to confront — spiritual emptiness, knowledge of ourselves, usable conceptions of the past and future.

„Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: Cultures may be classed into three types: tool-using cultures, technocracies, and technopolies.... until the seventeenth century, all cultures were tool-users.... the main characteristic of all tool-using cultures is that their tools were largely invented to do two things: to solve specific and urgent problems of physical life, such as in the use of waterpower, windmills, and the heavy-wheeled plow; or to serve the symbolic world of art, politics, myth, ritual, and religion, as in the construction of castles and cathedrals and the development of the mechanical clock. In either case, tools (... were not intended to attack) the dignity and integrity of the culture into which they were introduced. With some exceptions, tools did not prevent people from believing in their traditions, in their God, in their politics, in their methods of education, or in the legitimacy of their social organization...

„In schools, print shifted the emphasis from oral to written and visual communication.“

—  Neil Postman
Context: In schools, print shifted the emphasis from oral to written and visual communication. Teachers who had been only partly concerned within instructing their students in how to read became by the mid-sixteenth century concerned with almost nothing else. Since the sixteenth century, the textbook has been a primary source of income for book publishers. Since the sixteenth century, written examinations and written assignments have been an integral part of the methodology of school teaching; and since the sixteenth century, the image of the isolated student who reads and studies by himself, has been the essence of our conception of scholarship. In short, for 400 years Western civilization has lived in what has been characterized as the "Age of Gutenberg." Print has been the chief means of our information flow. Print has shaped our literature and conditioned our responses to literary experience. Print has influenced our conception of the educational process. But... print no longer "monopolizes man's symbolic environment," to use David Riesman's phrase. That monopoly began to dissolve toward the middle of the nineteenth century, when a more or less continuous stream of media inventions began to make accessible unprecedented quantities of information and created new modes of perception and qualities of aesthetic experience....1839... Daguerre developed the first practical method of photography. In 1844, Morse perfected the telegraph. In 1876, Bell transmitted the first telephone message. A year later, Edison invented the phonograph. By 1894, the movies had also been introduced. A year after that, Marconi sent and received the first wireless message. In 1906, Fessenden transmitted the human voice by radio. In 1920, regularly scheduled radio broadcasts began. In 1923, a picture was televised between New York and Philadelphia. In that same year, Henry Luce and Briton Hadden created a totally new idea in magazines with Time. In 1927, the first "talkie" appeared; and in 1923, Disney's first animated cartoon. In 1935, Major E. H. Armstrong developed the FM radio. In 1936 came Life magazine. In 1941, full commercial television was authorized. These are just some of the inventions that form a part of the "communications revolution" through which we are all living. To these, of course could be added the LP record, the tape recorder, the comic strip, the comic book, the paperback book.... the point here is... that the perceptual-cognitive effects on us of the form of these new languages be understood.

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