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Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Telegraphy, Rodeo Clown, Peace Symbols

Media, Information and Technoculture
Course Code
MIT 2000F/G
Daniel Robinson
Study Guide

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2000 Readings
Week 1 – Oral society
Psychodynamics of Orality – Ong
Without writing, words have no visual presence
Behind every sound there is a different sense of power (ex. Positive sound is
dynamic when you hear buffalo die, theres a sense to it)
In an oral society, there is no way to preserve meaningful thoughts (ex. You come
up with a solution to a problem but have no way of retaining all the info you
thought out)
Temporary solution to this: get someone to listen to you, but even those thoughts
are not totally meaningful, the person cannot take down the bits and pieces of
your thoughts
Only real solution is to think memorable thoughts (think in patterns, heavily
rhythmic, in repetition, proverbs
oProverbs – was constantly being repeated so people were used to hearing it
oRhythmic – basis of thought, easy to memorize and shit
To think in a non-pattered way would be a waste of time
Interpreting Aboriginal Cultures – Friesen
Argues that aboriginal people can effectively use oral culture to communicate, as
we can with writing
Dominant way they communicate is through speech
oEx. Crucial elements in hunting band life in Americas conveyed from one
generation to another by oral culture
Salient characteristics of the Aboriginal culture order:
1. Constructed on a particular sense or dimension of time (ex. Plan their
economic activities around ecological time that coincides with the lunar
and solar cycles and the seasons, called ecological time)
2. Suggested a theory of unity of experience among humans, the animal
world and the rest of the natural universe
3. It relied on the land
The 2 kinds of time they have are Ecological, as explained above and Structural
time, which marks the passing of the generations and explains the interaction of
groups within them
For aboriginals, knowledge and power are the same, to be in possession of
knowledge is more important than to be in possession of an artifact
Aboriginals introduced to printing by missionaries
oPrint duplicated a spiritual feature that only shamans could do (read minds
of others who are a distance away in an oral context)
oPrint (scripture) is unchanging and fixed, unlike that of oral

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From Empire and Communications – Innis
In the organization of large areas, communication requires a vital space
Effective government of large areas depends to a very important extent on the
efficiency of communication
Writing made societies more organized and gave certain people power (ex. Mans
power extended over use of written documents)
Power also to government, as written record signed and sealed was essential for
government to have power, needed it for military use “the sword and the pen
worked together”
Activities in populated places encouraged written word and in turn supported
further activities
Written word also changed peoples way of living, created private writing
Time bias – material that’s heavy and not easily transportable such as clay, stone
and parchment, based on community, geographically confined
Space – light, easily transportable such as paper, monopolies of information,
encourages rise of empires, reaches more people in a faster time
Week 2 – Writing/Print Culture
Literate Revolution – Havelock
Greeks did not just invent the alphabet, they invented literacy
The script had a result which was psychological: once you knew it you did not
have to think about it
The greek alphabet democratized literacy or rather, made democratization
The greek system by its superior analysis of sound placed the skill of reading
within reach of children at a stage where they were still learning sounds of their
vocabulary so if acquired in childhood, skill was convertible
The alphabet abolished the need for memorization and this meant less of your
brain was taken up with memorization because the statement did not need to be
memorized, it would lay around as an artifact
Aftermath of the Alphabet: writers of the classical period consulted each others
works and wrote what they had to say about each others earlier works, the world
of literature grew, books and documentation multiplied by the roman periods
Production of script was bound to remain restricted as long as its production
remained as a handcraft so this set a quantitative limit on creation of documents,
also a scarcity of materials
Also consequence of calligraphy (beautiful writing) “calligraphy enemy of
literacy” as it took way too long to produce and write out
Therefore, alphabetic literacy only reached its full potential when the printing
press was invented
So the greek alphabet allowed us to analyze things further but the material needs
for maximizing these results did not come about until further inventions

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“Energy of the alphabet had to await the assistance provided by the dawning age
of scientific advance in Europe to fully be released”
Rise of Reading Public – Einstein
While print did not start “silent reading,” it did encourage the notion of “silent
instructors” Ex. reading books on things teachers talked about
Textbook industry flourished but that did not put an end to classroom lectures, if
anything it made them stronger Ex. Priest benefited from charisma that would be
amplified over the spoken word
Silent publication altered the way members of parliament interacted
Printing of poems, plays and songs altered the way songs were sung
Villagers belonged to hearing public but what they heard was transformed by
Printing also cut community ties (before, you had to get together to hear address
be delivered, now with print, not so much) by encouraging individuals to draw
Power officials also extended when government regulations became subject to
powers of print
Cultural Approach to Communication – Carey
Carey exclaims that there are 2 alternative conceptions of communication:
1. Transmission view of communication – the commonest in our culture, all
about “sending,” “transmitting” or “giving info to others,” center of this idea
of communication is the transmission of signals or messages over distance for
the purpose of control, its the desire to increase the speed of messages as
they travel in space, the message is faster than the messenger ex. Electric
oTransportation was first seen in the Christian community as a form of
communication with religious ties, this movement in space was an attempt
to extend the kingdom of god, create conditions in which godly conditions
could be realized
oInvention of the telegraph transformed meaning of communication and
seen as spiritual because our thoughts travel by “steam and magnetic
2. Ritual view of communication – derives from the view of religion, highlights
the role of the prayer, the chant and the ceremony. Sees the highest
manifestation of communication not n the transmission of intelligent info but
in the construction and maintenance of an ordered, meaningful, cultural world
that can serve as a control and contained for human action, its an older view
oIf one examines a newspaper under a transmission view, they would see it
as an instrument for disseminating news and knowledge, in larger
packages over greater distances, whereas in a ritual view, the focus would
be less on sending or gaining info and more as attending a mass, a
situation in which nothing new is learned but a particular view of the
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