For so long as it has been important to know “what the law is,” the practice of law has been an information profession. Nonetheless, just how the information ecosphere affects legal discourse and thinking has never been systematically studied. Legal scholars study how law attempts to regulate information flow, but they say little about how information limits, shapes, and provides a medium for law to operate.
Part I of the paper introduces a holistic approach to “medium theory”—the idea that methods of communication influence social development and ideology—and applies the theory to the development of legal thinking and institutions. Part II examines select historic and pre-historic cultures that emphasize different media for conducting legal affairs—stone stelae, clay tablets, papyrus, and oral verse.
In concluding, the paper relies upon Heidegger’s criticism of “technological thinking.” In the case of modern society, the legal environment and our conception of the past are limited by technological thinking (i.e., the reduction of all things as resources to be mastered and used toward some end). However, the challenge is to see, by studying past information ecospheres, the current boundaries of law’s box and then to imagine what may lie beyond them.
The selection committee for the UMKC Brenner Faculty Publishing Award unanimously designated the article from law faculty publications for 2005-2006 as the recipient of award.
- Media Theory,
- Information Environment,
- Oral Tradition,
- Senchus Mor
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/paul_callister/2/