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Marshall McLuhan and the Medium Theory

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Coco Lien

on 3 October 2012

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Transcript of Marshall McLuhan and the Medium Theory

-instantaneous & discontinuous nature of electronic cmns
- “global village” (electronic) is a place where total involvement in depth with one another is more likely to breed conflict and terror
-best way to get to answer is by using probe & tetrad
-focused on “what is” instead of an uncertain future
-gave us heuristics so we can examine "what is" to determine "what should be" Marshall McLuhan Marshall McLuhan The Medium is the Message James C. Morrison Marshall McLuhan
(The Modern Janus) Discussion Questions: "Media ecology Means that if print or if the written word, is in danger, it can be rescued by some other medium. Or propped up. And don't just let something like that go down the drain without any counteractivity" -Marshall McLuhan 1978 Media as Environments -awareness of psychic and social effects of electronic media
-"artefacts” (any arts or techniques) create complex of environmental conditions & related tech.
-"Fish don’t know water exists till beached” (McLuhan 1970)
-verbal art communicates through shape of language; these shapes alter our consciousness
- "medium is the message", audience fulfills the medium's purpose, "the audience is the message"
-roots in medieval trivium: grammar, dialectic, & rhetoric Style and Substance -“outerings”/ “utterings” of our human faculties
-great symbolist/ modern artists were creating insights into new media age via. discontinuities
-probes aimed to train perceptive mind in pattern recognition Synesthesia -(def.) free interaction among the senses & the mind’s translation of percepts of one sense into those of another
-6th sense called “hapatic”
- “closure”: imbalance among senses is made less severe to reach equilibrium
- “medium is the message”: while content of medium may vary, medium’s effect remains same
- “spastic situation”: when an established dominant medium of cmns is being challenged by another medium with different biases Media Hot and Cool -dependent on amount of mental processing they need
-hot: demand relatively little participation
-cool: require greater participation (no longer an observer, but a participant)
-media are either hot or cool in relation to the culture/media environment Retrievals of Orality -source of message is everywhere
-alphabets process speech most efficiently b/c letters have lowest level of ambiguity in encoding particular sounds reader produces mentally
-more ambiguous/self-meaningful of signs, more sensorsium participates (ie. Chinese characters) Non-Linear Causality -his probes aim @ pattern recognition b/w cultures & cmns
-causality has 4 aspects:
-formal causality = literal level
-material causality = figurative level
-efficient causality = moral level
-final causality = analogical level
-what does it enhance or intensify?
-what does it render obsolete/replace?
-what does it retrieve that was previously obsolesced?
-what does it produce/become when pressed to an extreme? Centers and Margins Critiques Good:
-provided background information
-extraction of relevant quotes to clarify
-based off McLuhan's research, reinforced key concepts
-effective method of compartmentalizing sub-topics Bad:
-definitions constantly edited and redefined
-inconsistent Marshall McLuhan The Medium is the Message The Medium is the Message -focus is on characteristics of medium, not content it carries
-we would miss structural changes in our affairs that are subtle and change over long periods of time
-medium engages viewer in different ways
- "The electric light is pure information" (p. 108, para. 2)
-medium influences how message is perceived The Medium Influences Human Society -specific content may have little impact on society (ie. violent programs)
- "human senses, of which all media are extensions, are also fixed charges on our personal energies, and that they also configure the awareness and experience of each one of us" (p. 118, para. 2)
-ie. "Every Roman was surrounded by slaves. The slave and his psychology flooded ancient Italy, and every Roman became inwardly, of course unwittingly, a slave." -content blinds us to the characteristics of the medium
-medium is extension of one's being The Medium is POWERFUL - "He [Napoleon] understood the grammar of gunpowder"
-Napoleon paid attention to media, gave him an advantage over his enemies
- "Three hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets."
-Alexis de Tocqueville mastered grammar of print and typography
-revolution (printing technology)
- "We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value" Critiques Good:
-many scholarly examples that made it easier to relate topics
-pointing out media's power to influence society; changed the way people approached media Bad:
-spontaneous references to people who were not previously mentioned
-mosaic format made it difficult to understand
-no theories, just probes (maybe good? Freedom and room to interpret) Q: Is the mosaic format a good thing or a bad thing? In what ways is it good or bad?

Q:Define the difference between medium and content and explain the quote, "Nothing follows from following, except change." Q: In what ways are McLuhan's probes expressed in Cubism?

Q: Based on McLuhan's probes, what predictions do you have on how the society will continue changing?
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