The Medium is the Message “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.” (Is this true? Maybe yes, maybe no. But this claim does help us ask new and interesting questions about media)
Media Ecology in a Nutshell “Media by altering the environment, invoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act—the way we perceive the world.”
Analyzing Media Ecology What key technologies make up our “media environment”? How would our “sense ratios” be altered if we took one of these technologies away? How has one of these technologies influenced your family, your education, your job, your connection with people beyond your cultural group?
Book Design Enacts the Theory Associative Rather than Linear Logic (juxtaposition) Images convey substantial meaning (in combination with words). Challenges are traditional embodied habits of reading (calls attention to the conventions of books we normally take for granted)
Orality (Stage one for McLuhan) The Ear is dominant. More focus on the group than the “individual”; there is little “specialization”; time is not regimented. Culture is local (limited by distance) McLuhan tends classify all periods before the 15th century invention of print as primarily oral (even though writing was invented long before that)
Printing / Painting (15th century – early twentieth) Emphasis on “individual” self (silent reader). Thinking becomes more linear (rather than associative). Time becomes more regimented Knowledge becomes specialized. Culture expands to “publics” (readers who share the same language and live in same broad nation / region.
Electronic Media Returns us to the communal, connected, non specialized understanding of knowledge in oral cultures. The “ear” becomes more important again (though the visual image remains important too) The limited “public” now becomes the global “mass culture. Influenced by Walter Ong’s “Secondary Orality”
Did McLuhan’s Vision Come True? Did electronic media change our view of crime as an individual failing to be punished? Have everyday people become more deeply engaged in politics and government? Has specialization gone away from education and work? Is the distinction between oral, print, and electronic cultures really as consequential as McLuhan thinks? Do we really live in a “global village”?