CS 100B INTRODUCTION TO MEDIAHISTORY
Dr. Martin Morris,Associate Professor
What is communication studies?
o There are ‘administrative’ approaches and ‘critical’ approaches to communication studies
—we do the latter
o the social and historical constitution of communication technologies (that is, memorizing
dates is not really part of the study of media history)
Introduction to ‘meaning-making’
o Above all, humans are meaningmakers
o “We think only in signs” (C.S. Pierce)
o Signs may take the forms of words, images, sounds, odours, flavours, acts or objects
o “Nothing is a sign unless it is interpreted as a sign”
o Three kinds of signs:
o likenesses, or icons photograph indicated sth in the real life)
o indications, or indices (such as smoke is a indicator of fire)
o symbols, or general signs (sth can represent objectives in real life)
o Cave paintings are among the earliest human signs recorded. Pictograms (xiang xin tu)
are different from human language. Why?
o Tokens(represent certain amount of money): a painting of a horse is different from a
token because there is no specific relationship between a token and what it represents.
The symbol contrasts with the icon.
o Writing systems developed in Sumeria in 3200 BCE
o Cuneiform indicates wedge shaped markings on clay and stone. Pictographic or
o phonetic symbols—major development
o The Phonetic or “Rebus” principle