Understanding Media

October 13th, 2010 in Commlab by 0 Comments

Understanding Media by Marshall McLuhan

Chapter 1: The Medium is the Message

  • what one does with the machine is the message
  • the message of technology is how it changes human affairs.
  • The railroad didn’t introduce movement, it cause new cities, new works, and new leisure to happen.
  • Activities people do with the “technology” are contents of the technology.
  • ATT is in the business of moving information, not selling phone stuff, and IBM in processing information, not business machines.
  • Technology has become the scapegoat  for people who do bad with them.
  • “A chicken was an egg’s idea for getting more eggs’
  • New forms are seen as older ones reach their peak
  • Napolean understood the grammar of gunpowder
  • Typography united all french people, no matter their backgrounds
  • We have confused reason with literacy, rationalism with a single technology.
  • In our culture, people assume uniform and continuous habits are a sign of intelligence, thus eliminating the ear man and the tactile man.
  • People are using technology to distract what is really happening.
  • “The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impurity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.
  • “Print created individualism and nationalism in the sixteenth century.”
  • “In our own world as we become more aware of the effects of technology on psychic formation and manifestation, we are losing all confidence in our right to assign guilt. Ancient prehistoric societies regard violent crime as pathetic.”
  • Cubism announced that the medium is the message.

Response: I would say that the medium is 1/2 of the catalyst. The other half is human ingenuity, which results in the meaning. There are many a mediums, but the same medium can be taken by a multitude of people and have an array of meanings come out of it. When the meaning becomes the same for everyone, it means that people decided to let someone else decide what the product of the medium and human tinker should be. This is when it looks as if the medium is the meaning.

There is also the possibility that the medium is the message when people do not know the inner workings of the medium. The computer, for example, can become the meaning for people who do not know how to program it. The computer plus a little human ingenuity can came wonderful meanings, since our own imagination and knowledge of the medium are the limits.

Chapter 2: Media Cold and Hot

  • “Hot Media” has a great deal of visual information, while “Cold Media” has a low amount of visual information.
  • Hot media is low in participation and cool media is high in participation.
  • The alphabet, a hot medium, became typography, which made it a cool medium.
  • Hot excludes, cool includes.
  • In tribes, new technology can collapse social hierarchies.
  • “Woman, herself, is thus seen as a technological extension of man’s being.”
  • In Hebrew and Eastern mode of thoughts, the problem, resolution, and discussion is all packaged as one. This allows the study of all three sections, which is the way media study is necessary.
  • “The meaning of the message is the change which I, produces in the image”
  • Technology has taken us through the three stages: Alarm, Resistance, Exhaustion.
  • Everything goes from hot to cool.
  • “Hot” presidents, like FDR, the media couldn’t define. “Cool” presidents, like Coolidge, could define with one word.
  • There is a major difference if a hot medium is used in a cool or hot culture.
  • “The hotting-up of one sense tends to effect hypnosis, and the cooling of all senses tends to result in hallucination.”

Response: I do agree with the idea of “hot” and “cold” mediums. A piece of technology will continue to be hot until new technology comes along. By the time new technology rolls around, people have become accustomed to the old technology, as long as its in the same field. One could also say that all the mediums are hot, just in different degrees since taking an old medium to a new geographic area will cause different results. There is also the possibility that the same medium can be hot and cold in the same environment, just varying among people. The variation could be caused by age, curiosity, willingness to accept the medium, knowledge, social economic backgrounds, etc.

There is also a possibility that all mediums can stay “hot” if people keep questioning and finding new ways to use it. A medium should become cold once people believe that they can no longer learn, or be challenged, by the medium.

Author: ezraezra

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