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Lecture 4

CMNS 110 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Marshall Mcluhan, Stetson Kennedy

Course Code
CMNS 110
Gary Mc Carron

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CMNS 110 – Week 4 Readings
Legends on the Net by Jan Fernback
How does oral folklore exist on the internet? Specifically urban legends.
Legends and folktales usually have something to do with culture, and maintaining cultural identity. It usually has
something to do with people breaking away from tradition and then something bad happens.
Urban legends can spread rapidly on the internet and may affect businesses, etc.
Legends are universal, and remind us of the fragility of the human existence.
While the oral tradition remains vibrant, it is nonetheless subordinate to the literate tradition. The ultimate
intellectual or truthful authority in contemporary literate societies is the printed word (Goody, 1992)
Secondary Orality (Ong) – re-emergence of oral character in communication that represents a blend of literate, oral,
and electronic cultures in contemporary discourse
- Generates a sense for groups immeasurably larger than those of primary culture – McLuhan called it a
“global village”
Tannen (1987) finds that orality and literacy are not dichotomous, but entwined in ways that allow the reader/hearer
can use spoken and written storytelling to connect him/herself to the culture at large
Cyberspace contains its own form of community – communities that transcend time and space
The textual interface and the lack of face-to-face interaction in cyberspace demands that we recognize the
limitations of CMC as a medium of orality
How is the Ku Klux Klan like a group of real-estate agents? By Steven D. Levitt, et
Ku Klux Klan – multi-state terrorist organization
- “Kuklux” is Greek for “circle”
- Concerned itself with colored people, Catholics, Jews, communists, unionists, immigrants, agitators, and
other disruptors off the status quo
- Group whose power depended on the fact that it hoarded information.. if the information falls into the
wrong hands, much of the group’s advantage disappears
Stetson Kennedy
- Join the Klan as a spy and broadcast (Superman) their passwords, hierarchy, etc
- He understood the power of raw information
- Secret codes were turned into reasons for mockery
Internet as a source of information
- Had the same effect as Stetson Kennedy
- Brilliantly efficient at shifting information from the hands off those who do have it to those who don’t
- Internet has vastly shrunk the gap between experts and the public
- Flaw: information asymmetry – people can lie about information
- Experts can exert a gigantic leverage: fear
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