MDSA02 5 page studyguide: definitions, explanations and examples from Petit's lectures
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Media - socially-realized structures of communication, where structures include both
technological forms and their associated protocols, and where communication is a cultural
practice, a ritualized collocation of different people on the same mental map, sharing or
engaged with popular ontologies of representation .
Progress- History shows a typical progression of information technologies, from
somebody’s hobby to somebody’s industry; from jury-rigged contraption to slick production
marvel; from a freely accessible channel to one strictly controlled by asingle corporation or
cartel—from open to closed systems. Eventually, entrepreneurs or regulators smash apart
the closed system, and the cycle begins anew.
“The wheel . . . is an extension of the foot. The book is an extension of the eye . . . clothing,
an extension of the skin . . . electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system.
Media, by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The
extension of any one sense alters the way we think and actually the way we perceive the
- Marshal Mcluhan, The Medium is the Massage (1967)
Most scholars “emphasize the film’s paranoid dimension of social manipulation and mind
control, which connects individual anxieties about identity engulfment and transformation
through media images with political analysis that asks questions about who wields media
power and to what ends. The film’s political and social implications are also much more
serious: deep and widespread, offering a kind of postmodern paranoid model of
manipulation of helpless private individuals by predatory corporate forces under conditions
of universal technological penetration and colonization. At the same time, the protagonist’s
psyche and body become the uncontrollable landscape of transgressive sexuality, boundary-
less transformation and abjection, and murderous violence.”
William Beard, The Artist as Monster: The Cinema of David Cronenberg (2001)
Marked the separation between “transportation” and “communication”
Before telegraph, transportation and communication were synonymous; the telegraph
(including earlier line-of-sight optical forms, allowed symbols to move independently of and
faster than transport.
The telegraph helped shape a range of business practices:
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“The great theoretical significance of the technology lay not merely in the separation but
also in the use of the telegraph as both a model of and a mechanism for control of the
physical movement of things, specifically for the railroad. That is the fundamental
discovery: not only can information move independently of and faster than physical entities,
but it also can be a simulation of an control mechanism for what has been left behind. . .
Before the use of the telegraph to control switching, the Boston and Worcester Railroad, for
one example, kept horses every five miles along the line, and they raced up and down the
track so that their riders could warn engineers of impending collisions.
Brought diverse regional centers of buying and selling under a unified price and market
system and the need for the creation of standard time zones
Arbitrage: buying cheap and selling dear by moving good around in space.
“The significance of the telegraph does not lie solely in the decline of arbitrage; rather, the
telegraph shifts speculation into another dimension. It shifts speculation form space to
time, from arbitrage to futures. After the telegraph, commodity trading moved from trading
between places to trading between times.”
Transmission View and Ritual View of Communication
Transmission: commonest view; defined by terms such as “sending”, “transmitting”, or
“giving information to others”; the movement of signals or messages for the purpose of
control. Across space.
“Communication is a process whereby messages are transmitted and distributed in space
for the control of distance and people.”
Newspaper: a medium for disseminating news and knowledge.
Ritual: view of communication indebted to religion; “the transmission of intelligent
information but in the construction and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful cultural
world that can serve as a control and container for human action”. In place.
Newspaper: Reading the newspaper less a sending or gaining information but akin to
attending a religious ritual in which a particular view of the world is portrayed and
confirmed. “The model here is not that of information acquisition, though such acquisition
occurs, but of dramatic action in which the reader joins a world of contending forces as an
observer at a play.”
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