Edward W. Said's book, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, is a study of the way generations of western scholars failed to interpret the so-called Orient largely because they perceived it as an inferior and threatening version of the Occident. When the print-based culture encountered the internet there were few who recognised it as a phenomenon that was already having a profound effect on the world and all its media.
This paper seeks to examine the dialectical relationship between the internet and a print culture that is already being transformed by the McLuhanesque phenomena of the internet.
On 19 February 1998 Chris Horrie (head of journalism studies at London College of Printing) delivered a lecture in which he held the internet to be less accessible than print media by virtue of its exorbitant cost. "You might have to do a bit of welding," he said, "but you could build your own printing press." The same argument could be made that public transport is too expensive because of the prohibitive cost involved in reinventing the wheel. You might have to do a bit of welding but we could build our own bicycle rather than buy an Inter-rail ticket.
In the same lecture Horrie bemoaned the absence of editorial selection on the worldwide web: "There's so much rubbish!" whereas more enlightened browsers benefit from advanced searching techniques that bring their individual editorial needs from an uncensored medium.
In another context Edward Said wrote: "The contemporary intellectual rightly feels that to ignore a part of the world now demonstrably encroaching upon him is to avoid reality."1 According to McLuhan, we tend look at the familiar present through a rear-view mirror and march backwards into the future.