July 9th: The Medium is the Message/Massage

Your "Critical Analysis of a Technology" essays are due tomorrow.

Todays Readings

Marshal McLuhan

  • p. 7: "the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium--that is, of any extension of ourselves--result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology."

  • p. 8: "the 'message' of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs."

  • Message of the electric light (p. 9): Look to the structure that brings electricity to a household/community. Electric lighting communicates the fact that the society has a system of electric power, a grid. It shows modernization, industrialization, and progress. More importantly, though, electric lights extend or change what we can do in the dark.

  • p. 16-17: Our concept of literacy is socially constructed. We (members of a culture) have biases towards conventional ways of doing things. The norm in culture is seen as truth, and those not conforming are seen as lesser or weird. They don't understand the "grammar" of the system; they don't fit our patterns (e.g. a person without a cell phone is a pariah).

  • Fixed charges regarding commodities (p. 21): Societies have commodities that are, for lack of a better term, givens. The community accepts (it doesn't have to be conscious) these commodities as givens, which "create the unique cultural flavor of any society."
    {i.e. NASCAR is a given in Charlottean culture...pasta is a given in Italian culture...oil, cable TV, mobile phones are givens in American culture}

  • Jung quote image: Keith Herring's Free South Africa drawing.

Here's a good 2-page explanation of McLuhan's theory.

Moodle Discussion Posts

Remember, we're starting the double posting hybrid activity. I want you to respond to a post from another classmate from July 2nd's posts. You can respond to whomever you'd like (in at leas 250 words). Of course, you're supposed to be thoughtful and critically reflective. You aren't trying to necessarily go against (or be for) what your classmate wrote. Instead, you're trying to show you're reflecting on his or her post.

Head on over to moodle for discussion prompts. This is a bit too reductive of a way to describe McLuhan's theory, but you can consider it to be the recognition that the medium carries as much (or more) meaning than the content being delivered.

Do a Youtube (or other video) search on a topic of interest to you. The assumption is that viewers will post video of experiences. Try to look at a few videos on the same topic. Think about how those clips convey meaning beyond their content. What does it mean to be able to record events virtually anywhere? What does it say about a society that has such technologies?

You should also consider what's going on when viewing the clip. For instance, what does it mean that ads pop up on the Youtube clips? Are the ads related to the video(s)? I'm purposely not giving you specific details because I'm curious about your exploration. You should certainly try your best to relate this to the McLuhan (or Federman) reading.

***Don't forget to post the links to the videos you comment on.

Next Class--Convergence Culture

Tomorrow's reading is a more recent critique of new media and culture, but it's an introduction to a book, so the author makes an argument and then tells readers that he'll go into more detail in later chapters. You're free to read the entire book, but I chose just the introduction because it presents interesting arguments quickly. Of course, you're only getting part of his analysis because the rest of the book goes into specific examples.

We'll have Taylor lead class discussion on Jenkins for the first 20 minutes.

I have a preview page up.



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