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Chapter 1-6

MDSA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1-6: Peep Show, Kinetoscope, Postmodernity

Media Studies
Course Code
Michael Petit

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1 Introducing Critical Media Studies
Somatically (Directly) – the things we know through direct sensory perception of our
environment – we know what some things look, smell, feel, sound or taste like
because we have personally have seen, smelled, felt, heard, or tasted them
Symbolically (Indirectly) – things we know through someone or something such as a
parent, friend, teacher, museum, textbook, photograph, radio, #lm, television, or
the internet – information is mediated (came to us through some indirect channel
nor medium)
Medium = Medius (which means middle or that which comes between two
Critical Media Studies – the social and cultural consequences of that
revolutionary capability – communication technologies are increasingly
mediating both what we know and how we know
Media – includes a diverse array of communication technologies such as
human beings, cave drawings, smoke signals, letters, the telegraph, the
telephone, books, magazines, newspapers, radio, #lm, television, iPods, cell
phones, videogames, and computers
Mass media – communication technologies that have the potential to reach a
large audience in remote locations (collapse space and go beyond physical
Print Media
Pamphlets, books, almanacs (handbooks), newspapers, magazines, and other
Knowledge could be recorded for future generations in libraries and religious
Motion Picture and Sound Recording
First two new mass media since print: Phonograph (device that played
recorded sound) and the kinetoscope (an early motion picture device that
showed short, silent #lms in peep-show fashion to individual viewers)
Goal was to synchronize audio and visual images into a #lm project that
would allow more than one viewer at a time
Long-playing records (LP), compact audio cassettes, optical or compact discs
(CDs), and MP3s
Broadcast Media
Media didn’t need to be physically distributed or shipped to audiences
anymore – brought through public airwaves
Radios and televisions
New Media
New media are the cultural objects which use digital computer technology for
distribution and circulation

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satellite subscription radio, cable wired television (digital television), #lm,
photography, e-books, internet, websites, online computer games, and
internet capable mobile telephony
Living in Postmodernity
The present era is the information age, the third wave, the post-industrial
society, the space age, and Postmodernity
Postmodernity describes the historical epoch that began to emerge in the
1960s as the economic mode of production in most Western societies slowly
shifted from goods-based manufacturing to information-based services
oFrom the mass production of standardized, durable goods
(automobiles, toasters) to the reproduction of highly customized soft
goods (iTunes libraries and cell phone plans)
Convergence – the tendency of formerly diverse media to share a common,
integrated platform
A relatively recent phenomenon that was considered visionary in the early
Had to overcome two major obstacles
oNoise associated with analog signals
Solved through digitization (reduced distortion)
oBandwidth limitations prevented large data packets
Improved data-compression techniques along with bandwidth
Mobility – Technology becomes more and more portable
Media transformed from home appliances into personal (and fashion)
Media will go from being something we wear to something we
download directly through cybernetic implants
Mass in mass media has traditionally referred to the large, undi<erentiated,
anonymous, and passive audience addressed by television, radio, and print’s
standardized messages
oOwnership has lead to specialization and niche marketing
Decreasing production costs
oDramatic increase in media channels and a fragmentation of output
that caters to the increasing diversity of the consuming public
oMore television networks and premium cable services with around-the-
clock programming
Internet re>ects the most fragmented medium
oDelivering a dizzying array of content
World has become increasingly fragmented by specialized interests
oAmazon.com has country-speci#c portals and employs tracking
software that record user preferences to create a highly customized
shopping experience

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Globalization – is a complex set of social, political, and economic processes in which
the physical boundaries and structural policies that previously reinforced the
autonomy of the nation state are collapsing in favor of instantaneous and >exible
worldwide social relations
The spread of capitalism has fueled the rise of multinational corporations
who wish to pro#t from the untapped “global markets”
oaggressively support free-trade policies that eliminate barriers such as
trade tari<s between national and international markets
Cultural imperialism – the imposition of one set of cultural values on other
Simulation – is the generation by models of a real without origin or reality: a
Western societies and America are increasingly characterized by simulation
because the real and the imaginary (i.e. images or representations) have
Precession of simulacra – suggest that the image has evolved from being a
good representation of an external reality, to a distorted representation of an
external reality, to a mask that conceals the absence of a basic reality, to
bearing no relation to reality at all
Media endlessly produce and reproduce images of love, violence, and family
that no longer point or refer to some external reality
Media construct a realer-than-real space that is our social world
Why Study Media?
Mass media has gone from being one institution among many within our
cultural environment to being the very basis of our cultural environment
We are gradually changing which media we use, and the mass media remains
a signi#cant socializing force in contemporary society
Socialization – the process by which persons – both individually and
collectively – learn, adopt, and internalize the prevailing cultural beliefs,
values, and norms or a society
All social institutions are mediators – all contribute to socialization
Mass media #lters virtually every aspect of our world, shaping both what we
learn and how we learn
oWhat we Learn
Content – the informational component of a message, to the
speci#c details, facts, ideas, and opinions communicated
through mass media
The content of a message need have neither use-value nor
truth-value to be classi#ed as informational
Information need only be meaningful to count as information
Choosing to include or cover some topics and to exclude or
ignore others, the media establishes which social issues are
considered important and which are unimportant
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