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Media, Information and Technoculture 2000F/G Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Lowest Common Denominator, Heinrich Hertz, Canadian Radio Broadcasting Commission

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

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MIT 2000 Midterm Notes
Week 1: Early Communication:
Ong, “Some Psychodynamics of Orality” 5-9
Friesen, “Interpreting, Aboriginal Cultures”, 21-29
Innis, “Empire of Communications”, 35-39
Simonides of Ceos
5th century BC- Banquet hall collapsed, could visualize people in different rooms
Peter of Ravenna: 1400s Italy would talk about “memory Calluses” and when he spoke of
something, he would reach into a particular chamber to get the source of a topic
Memorization works with spatial visualization
Memory palace: The idea of constructing a building or imagery in your head to find the
information that you need with emphasis on visual and spatial elements (eg. Childhood home)
Spatial and Visual
Terrain, personal spaces, faces
We are much better at recognizing faces then we are names -pictures are much easier to
remember because we link the idea of that picture; aids memory
Epic Poems of Rajasthan
1.Oral tradition
2. Bhopas
3. Epic Poems
Bohopas: Developed Epic Poems for over 400 years
a) Mahabharata
b) Dev Narayan
Carried through oral tradition through Bhopas
Students that learned to read had worse memories than those who did not
Literacy weakens memorization and reduces oral tradition; diminishes orality
Oral Society (Ong)
in these societies, Words are events (evanescent)
knowledge is understanding self and character (Ex. In Hebrew “dabar” means word and event, but in
this society that is what happens the only way to relive events are through words)
Spoken word: audible events that occur in front of you
Power of the spoken word language as mode of action
Interlocutor memory/knowledge, cognitive structure/way of thinking
Oral Society/ Recall
How do spoken words become memorable thoughts?
Mnemonics and formulas: rhyme, proverb, alliteration-
Serious thought requires memory systems
Experience intellectualized mnemonically
“Know what you can recall”

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Oral Tradition
Rich in metaphor multi sensory
o Oral poet Illiterate (earlier version of the Bhopas)
o 9th century BCE
o Iliad/Odyssey
Oral Society
Jongleur (middle ages itinerant minstrel)
o Memorize hundreds of lines of poems/texts
o Aide-memoires/rhyme
Trained memory, worldly mind
Memory will become less and less important in defining who you are or your social standing
Theory/Orality/ Harold Innis:
Innis: theorist of communication/culture,
historical relationship between society and technologies of communication
Two categories: Time/Space
Tried to determine modes of communication and how it shapes politics and the economy
Innis: Time Biased Media
o There were some writings, but they would take place on stone/clay (not durable)
They emphasis Community/Continuity
o Relationships with the past
o Their contemporaries societies are still rooted in the historical experience
Practical Knowledge
Geographically Confined
o Not over large distances, sharing a single language, trib-like
Griot (West African Story Teller)
Repository of Oral Tradition
They can be prone to hierarchal Social Order
Less democratic; theocentric
Vulnerable to “light” media challenge
Innis: Space-based Media:
Papyrus, paper, printing press, TV
Large capacity/less enduring
o Ex. Newspaper compared to a stone tablet
o Territorial control/conquers oral traditions
o Larger areas geographically
Cultural Homogenization
Value Secular knowledge rather than sacred
Moves towards Commodification
Monopolies of Knowledge

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Innis: Orality:
“My Bias with Oral Tradition”
Spirit of Greek Civilization
o Dialogue, Socratic method
o Intellectual Exchange
o Inhibit tyranny, Imperialism
o Balance of time-space media
Week 2: Writing/Print History:
Havelock, “Literate Revolution” 10-15
Eisenstein, “Rise of Reading Public” 16-20
Carey, “Cultural Approach to Communication” 62-66
Origins of Writing
3200BCE Mesopotamia: Sumerians
o used to figure out tax shipments; economy outstripping memory
Pictographic Script: first type of language writing (ex. legal & land contracts)
Rebus Principle: pictographic symbols used for phonetic value. But there are still limitations bc
we don’t have pictographs that correspond to abstract concepts
Abstract Concepts
o Rel/legal/medical texts
Objects AND ideas
Move from pictographs to cuneiform
o Pictography to formal patterns
o Ideographic and syllabic symbols
o Non-alphabetic
Cylinders on clay: personal stamps
Baked Clay Tablets: it will remain permanent for the use of contracts
o This enables trade/commerce/personal correspondence
o It is a time-biased medium
Spread of Writing
3200 BCE Sumeria
300BCE Egypt
o Hieroglyphics (hieratic/ demotic scripts)
2500BCE Indus Valley (India/Pakistan)
1200BCE China
600BCE Central America (Mayans)
o All virtually pictographic/schematic scripts
Writing: Alphabetic
Phoenicians: first alphabet (no vowel, just consonants)
o 1500 BCE
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