Meaning and Technological Intimacy Today 04/09/2012 9:27:00 AM
Office Hours: Wednesdays 12:00-1:00 (Burnaby Campus) K9654
The Name of The Rose (Watch this film, relatable to course material)
Media and History- our framework
How it is that media technology shapes the reality of the world, or history
Lectures will be avail next week. @ sfu.ca/lectures
Learning Commons: learningcommons.sfu.ca
Helps for writing academic papers. (format, building arguments)
Use to help prepare for final papers
**Choose 2-3 course readings for next week‟s tutorial to present for the
Think about topics for the term paper. Very important to think about ahead
of time. *40% of grade
November 13- paper proposal is due, with 4 research resources.
Timeframe of this course: 1500‟s- present
*Gutenberg Printing Press invented ~1400‟s
Those communication institutions, technologies and practices that
structure and nurture experience.
The belated conditions (i.e., particular social economic, cultural,
and political histories), experiences, and traces of the past that are
understood as significant and formative in constituting who we are
and what we know and do today.
1970‟s- Informationalizing of economic, social, and political life. Valuable and Truthful Knowledge- literate
Literacy vs. Oral
Writing has a more immediate relationship with “Mind”
Way we think of crucial knowledge (writing) is an example of the
social transformations the printing press has influenced.
“The past is not a dead letter but continues to resonate” –Stuart Poyntz
Where the act of communication is a basic and even natural extension of
ourselves in the world, we never communicate (to others) without the aid of
So a central concern is:
o To understand the nature, impact and meaning of technology
in our lives.
o To understand in what ways media technology has shaped
our lives and experiences?
o How have media technologies and their associated practices
changed cultural and political life across nation-states since
the introduction of the printing press (16 thcentury)?
o In what ways can contemporary forms of media technology
be understood to foster social critique, democratic cultures,
and social change?
Oral Language- Mnemonics used to ensure memorization (ex. Repetition,
alliteration, rhythm, etc.)
Rather than argue that media technologies structure our lives completely, or
that we as users, consumers, viewers are free to choose and use media as
we please, the focus of this course is different.
Our project is to understand how human agency and media
technologies have and continue to act through one another.
What we will investigate, in other words, is the relationship between media
technologies (as one significant kind of media structure) and our own
agency, our ability to influence, shape and take action in the world. Constant interactions between ourselves and media technologies
The Course is divided into three major sections:
Orality, printing, the nation and democracy
Industrialization, consumerism, and media form (photography, film,
radio, tv) (19 / 20 thcentury)
Globalization, digital transformation, and public life
The concept of mediation has been part of the English Language
since the 14 thCentury
Over time, as mediation has been defined through various systems
of thought, it taken on three different meanings.
“If we want to know how our ideas develop, we need to first know what
baggage words carry”- Stuart Poyntz
The first and most common way we use „mediate‟ is to refer to the work of
“finding a central point between two opposites” (Williams, 1985, p. 205).
Here, mediation is about finding the middle ground
“Here is the good about the PC and the bad of the PC”
Where technology is concerned, we generally use this idea to talk
about mediating between the pros and cons to technology‟s impact
on our lives.
In other words, we have to mediate between the good and the bad
of technology‟s impact on our lives.
Mediation is passive. In a deep sense, it doesn‟t ultimately change the
McLuan- technology is extensions of ourselves- without them we feel
Another way to think of Mediation: the interaction of two opposed concepts
or forces in the totality to which they are assumed to belong.. in other words, two opposed concepts (technology and consciousness): technology
mediates how we see the real, it conditions it, in some ways, tells us what it
Here, mediation is productive, but misleadingly so.
^ways that are ideological
Understanding the impact of technology on consciousness is thus a
process of revealing the way experience is mistakenly organized by
our media systems
Technology is not only a form of domination upon the consciousness but also
is enabling to people (promoting notions of freedom, free choice)
Williams‟ third way to describe mediation: Mediation describes a kind of
interaction that is in itself substantial so that “the form of the mediation
alters the things mediated” (Williams, p. 205).
Here, mediation is understood as an active process in and of itself,
so that technologies or technological forms are understoof to alter
that which they mediate.
What we would say, for instance, that in a digital media culture,
digital technology alters what it is we mean by culture in the first
Example: Facebook has not only mediated social movement, but has
changed the whole meaning of social change. (KONY 2012) What is Technology? Myths and Ideological Beliefs 04/09/2012 9:27:00 AM
Technology, Determinism, and Social Futurity
Technology is not a thing, it is a way of framing a world, “the
ingredient without which contemporary culture- work, art, science,
and education, indeed the entire range of interactions- is
unthinkable” (Stanley Aronowitz)
It shapes and reconfigures the ordering schemes- including our
relationships with time and space- that constitute our lives
As such, technology is not a thing so much as technology refers to
the system of rules or codes of conduct developed to achieve a
whole series of ends in society
The turn of the eighteenth and nineteenth century- huge
technological progress. Ex. Telegraph- communication without
transportation. Stretch messages across space, and organize the
space without the need of transporting the message.
“If time and space are the way we order our lives, technology gives us way
of ordering those relationships” –Stuart Poyntz
Framework 1: The Enlightenment
Primary ideology of technology- all our problems- social,
environmental, economic, political, are subject to technological
solutions. Modern Enlightenment history then becomes a “record of
progress” (L. Marx)
Premised on the idea that “idyllic relations of pre-capitalist
societites were impossibly repressive to the human spirit and that
capitalism, the evils of exploitation notwithstanding, had
its…redeeming feature in the will to change the world- led by
scientific and technological transformations” (Aronowitz).
Techné signifies the unity of humans and nature. The machine and
less material technologies of control (i.e., administrative systems) are conceived as neutral. They allow for control over nature in a
way that enhances human life.
Power od ideal originality linked to political revolution- technology +
progress operates in the service of human emancipation
Transitioning- from the perfectibility of man to technical sublime
(technology becomes its own end)(remarkable allure of
Leads to notions of “manifest destiny”(in the context of north
American history- America is