chapter  9
Mass Memory: The Past in the Age of Television
Pages 14

The relationship between human memory and documentary communication media is often analogous to that of physical labor and machine automation. 1 In some cases the communication medium does no more than make easy what would otherwise be difficult. Take the case, for example, of a TV actor using a teleprompter or cue cards while speaking lines. The printed words, not visible to the viewer, are used to promote the illusion that the actor is speaking from memory. And yet the memorization of lines, such as a TV actor might deliver in the course of a broadcast, is not a feat that would stretch the capacity of the human mind; stage actors have been doing it for centuries. The written word, whether electronically generated or hand-printed, has merely reduced labor here, in the same way that the use of a jackhammer can break up 10 square feet of concrete with less human effort than if a pickaxe were employed.