Marshall McLuhan The Medium is the Message • Medium: ? • Message:? The Medium is the Message • Medium: Any extension of ourselves. • Message: The personal and social consequences of this extension. The message is: “the change of scale or pace or pattern that it(the medium) introduces into human affairs”. The Medium is the Message. QuickTimeﾪ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. What about content?. QuickTimeﾪ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. For the “content” of any medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. Rearview-mirror view?. The Medium is the Message. QuickTimeﾪ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. The Medium is the Message. Narcissus trance? Two types of medium. Hot: • High Definition • Focuses on medium. • Low participation. Cool: • Low Definition. • Focuses on the viewer. • High participation. For example… Hot: • A photograph. • Radio. • A lecture. Cool: • A cartoon. • The telephone. • Television. Raymond Williams Historical Materialism QuickTimeﾪ and a TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor are needed to see this picture. Technological Determinism (two flavors) • Technology as accident. • Technology as symptom. Technology as Accident (Television has altered our world) Television was invented as a result of scientific and technical research… 1. Its power as a medium of news and entertainment was then so great that it altered all preceding media of news and entertainment. 2. Its power as a medium of social communication was then so great that it altered many of our institutions and forms of social relationships. 3. Its inherent properties as and electronic medium altered our basic perceptions of reality, and thence our relations with each other and with the world. 4. …and developed as a medium of entertainment and news. It then had unforeseen consequences, not only on other entertainment and news media, which it reduced in viability and importance, but on some of the central processes of family, cultural and social life. Technology as Symptom (Television has altered our world) 5. Television, discovered as a possibility by scientific and technical research, was selected for investment and development to meet the needs of a new kind of society, especially in the provision of centralized entertainment and in the centralized formation of opinions and styles of behavior. 6. Television, discovered as a possibility by scientific and technical research, was selected for investment and promotion as a new and profitable phase of a domestic consumer economy, it is then one of the characteristic “machines of the home”. 7. Television became available as a result of scientific and technical research, and in its character and uses exploited and emphasized elements of a passivity, a cultural and psychological inadequacy, which had always been latent in people, but which television new organized and came to represent. 8. Television became available as a result of scientific and technical research, and in its character and uses both served and exploited the needs of a new kind of large-scale and complex but atomized society. Technological Determinism What are some of the problems with this philosophy according to Williams? Do we see instances of this outlook elsewhere? In Technological Determinism: 1. Each view can be seen to depend on the isolation of technology. It is either a self- acting force which creates new ways of life, or it is a self-acting force which provides materials for new ways of life. 2. Research and development are are seen as self-generating. 3. These views serve to mask important philosophical questions regarding technology. Williams claims there is a need: • To see a technology as being “looked for”, with certain purposes and practices already in mind. • To see a technology as fulfilling know social needs. Development of Faraday’s electro-magnetic induction & Volta’s battery: • Coincides with the development of industrial production. • With new industrial needs such as city and house lighting. Development of telegraphy: • Coincides with the development of railways. • The development of international trade and transport. television: • Much of the technology needed for the development of television existed by 1914. But there was not yet a social investment to bring the various parts together. television: 1. It was not until society became characterized by new scales of mobility that television was “taken up”. 2. This change in mobility itself was not caused by new telecommunications systems but by earlier developments: industrial production, new social forms, capital accumulation, and working technical improvements. These created new needs and possibilities. Needs? Mobility? Communication? Transmission?
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