MDSA02H3 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Neil Postman, Walter J. Ong, Elizabeth Eisenstein
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Media Studies Midterm Notes
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.
Meditated communication: Mass and personal communication using a physical medium. Using external means to carry
communication. Includes devices used for communication. Using any external means to convey communication.
Each means of mediated communication creates its own pattern, its own signature of human behaviour. Affects:
Collapse of space and time. Expands personal knowledge base and provides ever more information remote from
the here and now; information becomes anonymous. Takes our attention from the here to connect to the there
"human life will be irreversibly transformed"
humans will transcend the "limitations of our biological bodies and brain"
"the intelligence that will emerge will continue to represent the human civilization"
"future machines will be human, even if they are not biological"
Once nonbiological intelligence predominates the nature of human, life will be radically altered: changes in how
humans learn, work, play, and wage war.
Kurzweil envisions nanobots will people to eat whatever they want while remaining thin and fit, provide copious
energy, fight off infections or cancer, replace organs and augment their brains.
Eventually people's bodies will contain so much augmentation they'll be able to alter their "physical
manifestation at will".
Individual identities during these radical change; Kurzweil: people think of themselves as an evolving pattern
rather than a specific collection of molecules.
Evolution moves towards "greater complexity, greater elegance, greater knowledge, greater intelligence, greater
beauty, greater creativity, and greater levels of subtle attributes such as love".
These attributes, in the limit, are generally used to describe God. That means, he continues, that evolution is
moving towards a conception of God and that the transition away from biological roots is in fact a spiritual
Media Ecology: The study of in our environment and how it influences our the way we live. How media of
communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling, and value. Media facilitates or impedes our
chances of survival. Media structures what we see and say and, therefore, do.
Technological Determinism: Technology causes. Presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its
social structure and cultural values. Technology and new technologies are thought to be the primary cause of
major social and historical changes at the macro and micro level of social structure in terms of their profound
social and psychological influences on individuals. Shunned idea
Affect: Technology affects. also points to the ways that meanings circulate between, among, through, in, and around
human and non-human settings alike. Mediated communication technologies appear to have agency, and we
respond to them as though they do
Types of Reading
Critical: Satirists made fun of people who believed everything they saw in print
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Dangerous: Reading acted as a tranquillizer; dangerous especially when practised by subordinate groups such as women
and “the common people”
Creative: Texts can be read in ways contrary to the author’s intention. Ironies offered by Jonathan Swift, for example,
not understood by many
Extensive: At first, reading was intensive—before 1750, books were few. After 1750, more books and printed material
was available, and so reading shifted towards the practices of skimming, browsing, and chapter-hopping in
Private: Part of the rise of individualism and also of empathy or “psychic mobility”
Writing is a Technology that Restructure's Thought by Walter Ong
Writing is processed learning that has developed with technology as humans progressed.
An idea is only legit if on paper
Plato: "Writing is an arbitrary human invention". To write, one needs tools and training
Writing can save us from its follies. The known is whatever fact or thought is being inscribed, and the knower is
whoever is writing or reading it. This distinction is quite important as it makes knowledge accessible to some but
Writing separates the known from the knower, separates society by creating a division between 'haves' and
have-nots', separates past from present, separates the writer from the reader in both time and space
Dennis Baron: The Stages of Literacy Technology
Accessibility, Function, Authentication
When a new product comes out people are skeptical, at first. Therefore, the product is only available to a small
As the accessibility of the technology becomes more widespread, the public begins to put it to use doing familiar
Once it is more developed and people become familiar with the product, it eventually evolves into new
functions and uses
Authentication is very important because people are more likely to use the invention if they feel safe using it
Harold Innis: Time-Biased media, Space-Biased media and their necessary balance
Examples: Clay and stone tablets and hand-copied manuscripts on parchment or vellum
Characteristics: heavy/durable, control of time, suited to development of architecture and sculpture; collection
of permanent records in widely scattered communities, carry messages that last for many generations but tend
to reach limited audiences, favours centralization and hierarchal institutions and in particular religious control;
stability, community, tradition and religion
Societies that depend solely on time-biased media are oral and tribal; although leadership tends to be
hierarchical, time-bound societies may also operate by consensus
do not rely on written records, they must preserve their traditions in story, song and myth handed down
unchanged from one generation to the next
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