Old Media – Concept and Classification

We explain what the old media are and what these media are. Also, what are its advantages and disadvantages.

Message in a Bottle - Old Media
The ancient mass media left the limits of distance and time behind.

What are the old media?

The media are those instruments, devices or tools that allow a sender sends his message to be received by a receiver.

The old media, like the smoke, the cornet or the homing pigeons, were the first step to deliver a message that can be captured by several people at the same time, going beyond face-to-face communication and leaving the limits of distance and time behind.

What are the most important ancient means of communication?

The distance was an obstacle that the messages in stone could not overcome.

Some of the older means of communication are listed below. Many of them are still in use today.

  • Smoke. Smoke signals were a very ancient means used to contact someone who was far away or to advise the location of the emitter.
  • Cornet. This sound instrument also made it possible to overcome distances. In general, the sound was used to call someone or warn that a problem or danger was being registered. Formerly, instead of this musical instrument a horn was used for the same purpose.
  • Stone. Before the invention of paper, the medium that was used to overcome the passage of time when formulating a message was stone. On it, and with other stones, signs and symbols could be shaped. Due to its weight, distances were an obstacle that they could not overcome and its content could only be interpreted by those who knew the signs used.
  • Delivery courier. In this case, no type of support was used, but rather a person was in charge of carrying a message from one point to another and communicating the message orally.
  • Papyrus paper. This support was used for writing messages, it was made from an aquatic plant of the same name and it was written with ink on it.
  • Pigeons In this case, the issuer used one or more pigeons to which he placed a tube on one leg, with a letter inside. The pigeons managed to cross long distances and send the message to its destination.
  • Letter. In this case, a message was written on a piece of paper, it was placed in an envelope and the post office was in charge of organizing and sending the letters.
  • Bottle. The sailors used this option to ask for help: they placed a message inside a bottle and threw it into the sea, hoping that someone on the shore would find it and notify the authorities.

Advantages and disadvantages of old media

Papyrus - Ancient means of communication
Papyrus remains over time, it is lightweight and easy to transport.

If these means are compared with those of today, it is clear that there are more disadvantages than advantages, but at that time they were a solution for obstacles such as distance and time. Here are some advantages and disadvantages.

  • Smoke. As an advantage it can be mentioned that it allows to communicate a message overcoming distances, it is cheap and easy to do and understand. The disadvantage is that it does not allow to formulate many variants of messages and on rainy days and at night, it is not an option.
  • Cornet. It cuts the distance, is easy to use and understand, and can be used day and night. The downside is that, like smoke, distances are limited and it works as far as the sound goes.
  • Stone. Among its advantages we can mention that the content remains over time. The disadvantages are that it requires knowledge of the symbols embodied, so it can only be read by those who know them. In addition, they take up a lot of space and are very heavy, so distance is still an obstacle.
  • Delivery courier. A huge variety of messages can be sent because the content is communicated by one person and manages to overcome the limits of distance. The disadvantage is that the message does not remain in time, it is subject to the memory of the person and it may take time since it depends on the time it takes for the messenger to move from one point to another. Also, in times of war, if the messenger lost his life, the message did not get through.
  • Papyrus. Stays over time, is lightweight, and easy to transport. However, it is expensive and could only be used by those who knew the symbols depicted.
  • Pigeons. They draw distances and are fast. Among their disadvantages it can be mentioned that they are expensive and require training.
  • Letter. Avoid time and space, and safeguard privacy. Disadvantages: your shipping can be very slow.
  • Bottle. They allow crossing the barriers of time and distance. But, among its cons is the risk that they will never reach anyone’s hands.

Comparison of the old media with the current ones

Old Media - Newspaper
The newspaper requires certain techniques on the part of the issuer.

As mentioned before, technology had a huge impact on the media. It allowed them massiveness, as well as instantaneity and the possibility of communicating more complete and sophisticated messages that range from text and sounds to photographs, graphics and videos.

In this way, taking into account the complexity of the media throughout history, the German scientist Harry Pross established three categories:

  • Primary Media. They are those that do not require machines. For example, the voice or the use of signs.
  • Secondary Media. They use techniques, on the part of the person who emits the message, for its emission. For example, the newspaper or a brochure.
  • Tertiary Media. Both (sender and receiver) require machines or devices for the emission and reception of the message. For example, television, radio or the Internet.