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I have got hard time understanding this sentence:

George Gilder (1994), who prides himself with having predicted the demise of television and the birth of the telecomputer as far back as 1989, singles out television, ‘the Cathode Ray Tube’ and the wireless technology of radio as instrumental in the formation of a pervasive medium empire, the ‘“master–slave” architecture’ of ‘a few broadcast centers’ that ‘originate programs for millions of passive receivers or “dumb terminals”.

Does the author try to say television and other things should be separated (but from what) as instrumental in the formation of a pervasive medium empire.

Source: David Holmes' Communication Theory

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  • I'm not certain that I understand your question title. Could you highlight the part of the sentence you're confused about, specifically, or, if you think something is missing, rewrite the sentence how you think it should be written.
    – Catija
    Feb 10, 2016 at 20:34
  • Of course I can type the part I am confused about. "singles out television, ‘the Cathode Ray Tube’ and the wireless technology of radio as instrumental in the formation of a pervasive medium empire, the ‘“master–slave” architecture’ of ‘a few broadcast centers’ that ‘originate programs for millions of passive receivers or “dumb terminals” Feb 11, 2016 at 0:17

2 Answers 2

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Your interpretation is correct.

As for the "from what" question, that isn't directly answered by the text, so you are left assuming it could be basically anything else. I'd assume the author meant "out of all the technologies that were invented before 1989, the TV, Cathode Ray Tube, and radio are the most instrumental in the formation of the pervasive medium empire".

For a different example, take the sentence

She singled out Johnny as the best writer.

You don't know who Johnny is being separated from. The school? The state? The world? Even though you don't know, you could probably make an educated guess in context, and even if you can't, it's still valid, just ambiguous.

Compare this to

She singled out Johnny as the best writer in his class.

Clearly the "singled out from what?" question in this sentence is "from his class".

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  • Thanks a lot for your valuable note. That made percent sense but should I use "single out" as "separate" or as "select" as dear Great Crosby stated Feb 11, 2016 at 0:21
  • I thought the author might mean to say George Gilder singles out tv and other stuffs FROM the ‘“master–slave” architecture’ of ‘a few broadcast centers’ that ‘originate programs for millions of passive receivers or “dumb terminals.” He might have forgotten to add FROM. Feb 11, 2016 at 0:31
  • "select" might make more sense in your head, but for me the 3 are rather interchangeable. If you have a pear, apple, and banana in front of you, and you "single-out" the apple as the tastiest you are both selecting the apple, and separating the apple from the other fruits (specifically elevating it above the others). But the end meaning is the same - the apple is the best.
    – Sarah
    Feb 11, 2016 at 4:15
  • Thank you Sarah. That is a wonderful explanation. Then I understand the sentence this way: George Gilber selects tv and other stuffs as instrumental in the formation of a pervasive medium empire, which is the ‘“master–slave” architecture’ of ‘a few broadcast centers’ that ‘originate programs for millions of passive receivers or “dumb terminals” Feb 11, 2016 at 21:20
  • Looks like you've got it!
    – Sarah
    Feb 12, 2016 at 0:29
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Here 'Singles out' means 'selects'. So the group "television, ‘the Cathode Ray Tube’ and the wireless technology of radio" are selected, not separated. Singles out can mean separated but NOT in the present context.

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  • I appreciate your insight. If we accept that the author used "single out" as "select," then what did he try to say. I might guess that: George Gilber selects tv and other stuffs as instrumental in the formation of a pervasive medium empire which is the ‘“master–slave” architecture’ of ‘a few broadcast centers’ that ‘originate programs for millions of passive receivers or “dumb terminals” Feb 11, 2016 at 0:34
  • Please note the corrected typo in my previous comment. I think your guess is correct. Feb 12, 2016 at 15:16

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