COMM 360 Lecture 1: COMM 360 Notes

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COMM 360: Chapter 1 01/19/2016
January 19, 2016
Reductionism: many causes for few consequences.
Elite bias: rich people, powerful groups
Present-mindness: interpreting their lives in the past
75-90 years old falls into category of history
Two broad aspects of history
oPowerful leaders
oContingencies: plagues, natural disasters.
We can’t control history, it makes itself without help from us; it just
What most people do makes history. History is on the side of numbers.
January 21, 2016
Cultural history examines the ordinary and popular to help us
understand how people in the past made sense of their world. It is not just
about art, music and ideas. Media are the focus here.
6 Theories of Media History
Theory- explanation for a series of observations.
Good theory: predicts the next set of observations
Nationalistic Theory: media contribute to the progress of society,
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Romantic Theory: contributions of great men, women count. They
move history. Least important, no one really believes it.
Developmental Theory: media evolve, improve. They often conflict
with other institutions.
Is the media better than it was before?
Progressive Theory: media is reform-minded, locked in struggle with
corrupt elites. To win, the media must form egalitarian public opinion.
Periods in history: Reconstruction, Populist (famers who wanted the
gold standard to go away), Progressive (fair and local taxation,
access to large newspapers), New Deal, Civil Rights (issue through
the whole country, some newspapers will help but others won’t,
television), Great Society
All depends on location and media.
Consensus Theory: media, other institutions agree on basic goals.
Price of gas is going down; people are losing jobs.
Cultural Theory: media, content can only be understood as they
interact with other institutions and social forces.
Basic assumptions
It’s the species, not the technology that matters. Media
technologies are an extension of basic human capabilities.
As societies change, they favor different communication
technologies. That “bias” changes how a society is organized.
Cultural history is our best means to understand the media.
Are complex societies possible without extra somatic memory?
Dunbar’s Numbers = As a group’s size approaches 150 members,
face-to-face interaction is inadequate for social control. After 150,
groups members tend to split off.
“Telephone” activity.
Maybe, but the earliest form of written communication were
not efficient.
1. Pictograms represent the actual thing
2. Ideograms represent an abstraction
3. Often represent entire words.
Sun can represent the sun or symbolize heart or a divinity.
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COMM 360: Chapter 2 & 3 01/19/2016
January 26, 2016
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