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Media, Information and Technoculture
Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G
David Spencer

MIT 2000 Exam Notes Ong, “Some Psychodynamics of Orality”, 5-9 - A primary culture values sounds, however, there is no way to look for sounds as once they are uttered they disappear o This gives sounds a special relationship to time o You cannot stop and keep sound like your eyes can - Oral peoples commonly associate sound with great power o A hunter can see, smell, taste a buffalo, but if he hears a buffalo he better watch out o In this sense sound is dynamic - Oral people commonly think of names as conveying power over things o Ex. adam named the animals o We consider names as tags, however, oral peoples have no concept of names as written or printed – real spoken words cannot be labels - Restriction of words to sound, affects thought process o They can recall information o They remember through oral communication with each other o Must think in mnemonic patterns -- your thoughts must come into being in heavily rhythmic balanced patterns (repetitions, alliterations, assonances, antitheses)  Ex. proverbs, Hesiod (delivered quasi-philosophic material in formulaic verse) - Oral cultures must invest time to repeat what they have learned o Therefore, intellect and knowledge is highly regarded and valued and societies value wise old men and women – today (written cultures) print downgrades the importance of old men and women and favours young discoverers of something new Interpreting Aboriginal Cultures By: Gerald Friesen  First Nations people understood time in ecological and generational terms rather htan calendrical  They used temporal units rather than spatial ones to measure canoe routes etc th  16 century, European literacy challenged Aboriginal culture. Printed letters were seen as “foretelling” the future  Oral word of many can “vary” and thus, the bible was seen as superior to storytelling  Aboriginal people are fundamental to the growth of Canadian institutions (also stated by Innis)  This is through their cultures and polititcs  Their dominant mode of communication was speech  Film: Summer of the Loucheux (filmmaker: McCrea) o Climax is when they visit the 93 year old grandmother (Alestine) who told her story:  She thinks of this country as “her own”  Discusses how she canoes, and hunts  It is important to grasp an understanding of the significance of her community, it creates a feeling of continuity and historical connectedness  It also reminds the audience that there were times when the Indian people were very independent Examine using time and space  Time is a very specific thing (minutes, seconds etc), but space is very vague because we can transcend its limitations o Time and space vary depending on the society  A man had a dream that he saw a hand in a river. The next day, he was driving and saw a hand in the river and was just in time to save this individual o Relevance of this story: This story happened twice, in a dream and in reality, giving it a reason to be told. Time is subject to revision in stories  Aboriginal‟s ability to annul time  Story about a man who stayed with foxes for 20 days and then was able to speak to them and catch then whenever he wanted o Links reality and spirituality o Living in mythic rather than historic time. These two often got interwoven and indecipherable  Telling stories and making speeches are among the most valued arts in traditional cultures  Certain rituals convey messages, ex. a child‟s first hunt etc.  Today, people try to understand what the Aboriginal signs meant to gain an understanding of our heritage  A man named Aggan found a package of “hide” and then found it to be a large map of where heaven was  Role of the land in traditional culture and unity of experience are fundamental to aboriginal people. These two differ in time and space views from today  Aboriginals relied on the spoken word and so too, today religious perspectives rely on the spoken word  Aboriginals did not receive print well- this European impact negatively affected their culture  “Aboriginal Radicals” wanted to embrace literacy, as they saw the bible as a way to communicate with God (believed that the priests were communicating through the bible)  Literacy and Christianity challenged Aboriginal Cultures, however it is notable that this culture is not totally gone. It has been vanquished not obliterated- why? because their belief in an unbroken chain between past and present still remains Innis, “Empire and Communications”, 35-39 - Time biased society vs. space biased society - These are important barriers to overcome - The key is the issue of communication – Remember that it‟s a bias and not an absolute Time Space - Oral - Written - History - Empire - Memory - Storage (we store all data) - Conservative - Progressive - Craft tradition - Accessibility - democratization of info (ie the Greeks), more about standardization (Education for all) - Looking at power relations in empires o Spatial bias – geographically connected societies – ie. Romans - Ex. Indigenous Peoples – no written media - cannot have consistency of messages across space – limit on how far ideas can go o Time biased – no archive – gives certain people a lot more power – conservative – limit on geographical expansion - (Not from the reading directly but from tutorial) o Our society – Spatial or time biased?  Cell phones – spatially biased and oral technology  McLuhan – Return on orality  Can communicate orally – but no memory or historical component to the information  Facebook – time biased because there is a record of information – elements of both - This reading places our society in relation to other societies – use context to understand where we are as a community and to understand our power relations as well Havelock, “From the Literate Revolution in Greece and Its Cultural Consequences”, 10-15 - The Greek alphabet o 700 BCE o Altered the character of human culture – invented literate basis of modern thought o Took time before the letters were standardized throughout Greece and once it was standardized there were two competing versions - Democratized literacy – children at young ages were introduced to literacy o Dependent upon the organization and maintenance of school instruction - May have changed the content of the human mind o Once it was learned you didn‟t have to think about it o The Semitic names became meaningless in Greek - Construction of Roman literature upon Greek models o The Greek system could identify the phonemes of any language - Greek was first used to record oral literature in Greece o The secondary purpose of the alphabet was the invention of fluent prose - Abolished the need for memorization and rhythm (no longer mnemonic) - Expanded the knowledge available to the human mind - Children in school used sand and slate, not papyrus The Rise of the Reading Public By: Elizabeth L. Eisenstein  Printing press reduced times and costs associated with reproducing texts  Vernacular languages displaced Latin  What did McLuhan mean by the typographical man?  Development of silent reading during the middle ages  Silent scanning  This did exist prior to Guttenberg‟s printing press, but this advent (in the mid 15 century) did increase its popularity  Notably, silent scanning did not diminish the spoken word o Ex. Textbooks did not eliminate lectures  Storyteller was replaced by a literate villager who read aloud  A hearing public a reading minority. o A hearing public is communal and binding o A reading public is more fragmented  Printing impinged on sociability  Secularization because the public no longer relied on the church for news  Monthly papers became weekly, and then daily  Reading public is more atomistic and individualistic than a hearing one  While communal solidarity was diminished, vicarious participation was enhanced A Cultural Approach to Communication By: James W. Carey Question: In class you mentioned that ritual view is anything that does not communicate something to someone, ex talking to yourself. But according to the text (I think), it is trying to say that the ritual view is expressing a common belief or portraying a world event.  Two ways to view communication: transmission and ritual th  These two terms came with the emergence of the term communication in the 19 century and both stem from religious origins  *These two views do not counter each other, but rather, coexist Transmission View o Extension of the message in space o Sending, transmitting, etc o Most common form of communication o Metaphor of geography or transportation o Control of people  Christians speech was communication largely implicated in religion  The telegraph broke the identity of transportation and communication  Notably, the telegraph‟s creation was entrenched in religious ideals o Ex. The first words were “What Hath God Wrought” – demonstrating the importance of spreading the word of God  As religion became decentralized, technology and communication became the centre of thought  Communication was more superior to transportation  With the goal of controlling space and people, communication would spread the word of God efficiently and effectively Ritual View  Maintenance of society in time  Older than transmission view, listed as “archaic” in the dictionary  Sharing, participating, association, etc.  Representation of shared beliefs rather than imparting information  Very religious based (even in its name) and highlights the importance of the prayer rather than the sermon  Not dominant in our society  News is not information, rather it is drama Example of a Newspaper in Transmission and Ritual Views  Transmission View: Newspaper disseminates information  Ritual View: Less as sending information and more as attending a mass – nothing new is learned, a particular view of the world is portrayed Jeffrey L. McNairn, “The Most Powerful Engine of the Human Mind: The Press and its Readers” 128-139 - Most Upper Canadians political information came from colonial newspapers - The men living in the city had ample access to daily communication (newspapers) which allowed them to feel connected, important (like he had a vote) o Encouraged men to congregate - Many newspaper agents doubled as postmasters because many papers flowed through the mail o Often people complained about the slow delivery process o 1817 about 12 postmasters o 1830s – more than 100 post offices in Upper Canada o In 1841 another 127 were added – mirroring population growth o Subsidized the circulation of Canadian newspapers – shows the importance of connectivity among Canadian citizens - By 1835 everyone pretty much had access to the newspaper reader community - 1840 – 80% of Upper Canada adults could read and write - Access to newspapers was still easier for some groups than others o Subscribers formed an even smaller group of people Minko Sotiron, “Public Myth and Private Reality” 140-149 - Discrepancy between motives and values o The public thinks that newspapers should educate the public o The newspaper companies are only focused on making money by attracting advertisers and readers - The press began to sensationalize the news to attract readers - 1860s – concept of the “press as a servant to the public interest” News as Commodity News as Public Interest - Advertising – power over content - Strong editorials - Sensational - education - Inverted Pyramid – start off with big idea - Reader is key - Increased circulation - Community of readers - shorter articles - distribution network – agents – passionate about what they sell - emphasis on cover page - Role to check government power - More pictures and cartoons (yellow - Politics / Community – engage in critical st journalism – 1 cartoon) discussion - More human interest stories - Audience as commodity - Preconfederation o No democracy – power in the hands of the aristocrats o Newspapers – for public interest o More loyalists – want to live under the dominion of the king – Against the American Revolution - Postconfederation o Active public sphere was originally needed to unify the country, but now the fights over – no need for public interest o Technological advantages emerge – train o Bonding with the US - Eventually public interest papers could not compete with sensationalism Johnston, “Newspapers, Advertising”, 114-125 - Ad Agencies: o White space wholesaler – buy space in bulk – profit comes from mark-up – contracts with certain newspapers o Open contracts – advertiser tells the agency what audience they want o Full service – Includes are, plates - No circulation statistics – hard to gage the audience – often agencies surveyed the local readers - 1895 – Legitimate advertising out-numbered Patent Medicine o Legit for the reader – legitimized the advertising industry o Economics – Advertising produced more revenue than subscriptions - James Poole o 1860 – owned and operated the Carleton Place Herald o Advertisements of every page o Typified the type of newspapers of the time – advertising become mainstream and important - George P. Rowell o Contracted large amounts of space in 100 New England papers – became a wholesaler of publishers‟ „white space‟ – a „space jobber‟ o Bought the space at a discount and sold it for more - J. Walter Thompson o Closed contract o Secured exclusive access to the publishers on his list o Took Rowell‟s idea one step further - J. J. Ayer o Open Contract – 1875 – advertiser oriented service – offer the advertiser media that are sensitive to its product and distribution network (do the market research for them) - Anson McKim o Was hired by T.W Dyas as a representative for the Mail o Secured contracts with several papers at once and took a commission from each paper, part of which was rebated to the Mail o Left the Mail and became an independent solicitor o Not only sold advertising space, but sold a service – offered other services such as plating, and art design Marketing Gum, Making Meanings: Wrigley in North America, 1910-1930 By: Daniel J. Robinson  Polysemic richness as cultural text  Wrigley‟s textual ads promoted health and psychology, while their mascot was largely related to mother goose  Created ads on two different axes; factual, socially contingent and modern; and one sentimental, mythical and timeless  Wrigley ads had text and images and the text stressed two things; heath and equanimity  Gums offered as laxatives and “cured obesity”  1920s, a decline in using medicine to sell gum, but Wrigley‟s continued  Wrigley‟s until 1914 used “pepsin” (a gas that aids digestion), however this brand stuck with them well into the 20s  Also used psychological advertising methods (ex. stress relief)  Cultural authority of psychology rose in the 10s and 20s o Wrigley capitalized on this in their 1931 ad campaign where they said that it was proven that Wrigley‟s gum relievs stress by massaging specific facial nerves  “Spearman” appeared in the mid 1910s o Spearman was Wrigley‟s version of mother goose o First appeared in a Mother Goose promotional booklet in 1915 o By the 1920s, Spearman was in schools and newspapers and was largely entered into the commercial imaginary (like Ronald McDonald) o Uses semiotics to analyze  Spearman signifies spearmint  Wrigley‟s emphasized “mass over class” – they targeted a wide range of people using billboards and streetcars Lowering „the walls of oblivion‟: The Revolution in Postal Communications in Central Canada, 1851- 1911 - The development of the postal system constituted a revolution in communications o Vast social ramifications – family, community - This development was not static across Canada – certain regions developed faster than others - Before 1851 the deputy postmaster generals answered to the postmaster general in London whose objective was to secure a profit for Britain o Post offices were not considered a major component in the expansion of settlement - There were attempts to speed the mail service before 1851 o 1820s and 30s – improvement of Canadian roads, establishment of regular stagecoach routes o 1840s – introduction of steamboats - 1850s – creation of railways proved to be the most efficient way o Reduced delivery time o Ex. between Toronto and Quebec reduced from a week to 40 hours - Opened a network of post offices - 1851 – Britain relinquished control to the several provinces of the postal offices o New emphases in policy and admin. - William Smith – the postal system extended civilization or followed the train of civilization - 1911 – 3,054 post offices – quadrupled between 1851 and 1867 - Facilitated financial transactions and banking facilities o Could transfer funds over national borders o 1868 – 1 post office saving banks – 1911 total deposits of $43 million - Substantial use of the post office in Ontario and Quebec - Communications revolution between 1851 and 1911 - 1875 – communities complaining about lack of postal services o The government was interested in improving access to postal services as it developed and progressed settlement o Use of postal service linked to literacy and education – linked to the development of public elementary schooling  1871 – improved schooling – occurring in conjunction with mass postal communication (Ontario)  Quebec – 13-20% couldn‟t read and write – culture did not focus on the written word  Quebec had less need to written communication - 1850s – growth of towns and cit
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