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Lecture 3

Communications Lecture 3.docx

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Communication Studies
Ghislain Thibault

Communications Lecture 3 The Canadian Mind: Innis and McLuhan Harold Innis: “the bias of communication”  Born in 1984, Ontario, died 1952  Ph.D. in Economics  He wrote a thesis on the history and the Canadian Pacific Railroad, and saw that it was economically helpful, but also that a transportation system such as a railway could also lead to the transportation of ideas and cultures. Empire and Media  How does one gain power of such large territories?  Large scale political organizations such as empires must be considered from a standpoint of two dimensions, those of space and time.  When an empire choses a media, they chose one that allows them to remain powerful over time AND space, there must be balance  Media either have a bias of time (seek to transcend time – heavy and durable=clay and stone. Speech is also time biased in the form of oral culture, which can be passed down from generation to generation without encouraging territorial expansion. One must gather to hear speech so communities must not be spread out.) Religion tends to favor the conquest of time, therefore religion survival prefers a bias of time as opposed to a bias of space via military expansion. The bible never changes, it stays the same throughout time. It wants to remain fixed in time. Or bias of space (Associated with secular and territorial societies. Readily transportable but has a relatively short lifetime/easy to destroy. Papyrus and paper are good examples) Military or political organization favor the conquest of space.  Your choice of media will define the culture and organization Writing creates a new culture: “New media creates new culture.” A “literate” culture that is different from “oral” culture What is a primary oral culture? (Walter Ong)  A culture that has no texts or reliance on writing  Based on the production of sound  Sound: Evanescent, dynamic, constantly in movement  The challenges for these cultures is to organize material for recall. Content of messages can become distorted over time, since it can’t be fixed. Who decides who is right and wrong? Security? No recorded laws. They used stories to tell you what to do and
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