XEROX Unit 1 Mass media, Culture and Society (p1-40).docx

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University of Toronto St. George
St. Michael's College Courses
Steve Hoselton

SMC219Y1 XEROX Medium - It can generate many expressions: half, middle, center, manner, remedy, common, transmitting… - Medium, in fact, is the center, nucleus, and heart of something as well as that which is ambiguous, common and mediocre. - The medium is an object, of various natures, that is placed in the middle, between our senses and the external world, and functions as a tool of perception and instrument of apprehension - Anything could be a medium - Humanized objects, objects charged with individual and/or collective human creativity How, Why, What, When and Where Do Humans Perceive? - Humans perceive through the senses; Living is perceiving - Perceptions: pieces of information received through our senses, and selected, analyzed, processed and stored by our brain - Not limited to five senses, also insights into an issue, question, or problem… - Experiences are rooted in perceptions; Similarities are recognized by the use of similar parts of the sensorium, or by the same senses - The Five Senses: Visual, oral, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory Two Channels of Perception: Tactile and Visual Senses - All senses could be sensibly classified to tactile senses and visual senses - Tactile: touch, hearing, smell, taste - Visual: sight - Sight tends to go solo, but touch pulls all senses together, sight included - TV combines and blends sight, hearing, and touch - External world is different for every one - All media are environmental agents Media: Makers of a New Nature - Must move on - Whether we slow down, cruise, or accelerate, both our instruments of navigation and our vessels are our own, proudly man-made media Media as Living Organism (The Life of a Medium) - Northrop Frye, “the concern of concerns” is something that distinguishes human beings from any other creatures; the result of this creativity is called medium (or human artifact) - Primary Concerns: principles that determine our actions at a very instinctive level (food, water, air, etc.) - Secondary Concerns: effects of the beliefs (political party, cultural association, etc.) - Most important concern is for our imagination and our senses to express themselves by inventing and making, by creating something out of nothing, by making media (imagining, rationalizing, constructing, adjusting, fixing, doing and re-doing) - Not all media can be shared and used by a number of people (mass media) - Once created, the medium exists forever; Immortal in a humanistic way - Twofold need of a medium: it could be something practical and useful; could be something is not useful but it is beautiful and idealistic - Our view of two kinds of media follows from Cicero’s notion of utility and honesty - We will have media created in response to physical needs, and media that are pure expressions of human creativity The Laws of Media - Retrieval: an operation of our mind associated with the act of creation, and not to deny its absolute originality - Enhancement & Obsolescence: a medium extends the reach of one sense, and in so doing reduces the reach of another; as something went up, something else went down - Reversal: the medium reaches a point at which the enhancement is no longer sustainable and reverses into its opposite (overheated medium: complete stop of a vehicle) - Enhancement and obsolescence have the time frame already set, and therefore encourage or induce the media explorer to focus on the dynamic mechanism of transformation in its own spatial context - The medium mutates its functions; it is a living organism that changes as it grows and moves, and it is moved around The Mass of Mass Media - Language is our prime example of mass medium; it does not exist in nature, and it is used by a community constituting a mass - The bigger the mass the less specific the culture to which the mass medium refers - Geography is primary media qualifier, and so is history since mass media live in time, in a continuous, chronological state of transformation Media Attributes - Soft vs. Hard - New vs. Old - Dull vs. Sharp - Generic vs. Specialized - Cool vs. Hot - Electric vs. Mechanical - Software vs. Hardware: the soft ware is the program, the impalpable medium of pure information, while the hardware is the device that makes the program run, a tangible medium - The passing from a totally mechanical medium (the typewriter) to a hybrid one, mechanical and electronic (the compute box with printer) - The understanding of this new medium was initially conditioned by the rear-view mirror syndrome, which is a response to the anxiety that accompanies the detachment from the old medium and the acceptance of the new Old vs. New: The Rear-view Mirror Syndrome - The perception of the new with the mental attitude of the old - There is a contrast followed by a moment of uncertainty in which the old medium appears to be the more reliable…. Before its capitulation - i.e. car was first called “horseless carriage” (speaks of the abandoned horses); however, new environment of the car such as gas stations, motels appeared - The old medium remains somewhere until it is retrieved with a different function Cool vs. Hot - One of the most controversial and debated dichotomy of media invented by McLuhan - Cool Medium: demands a high level of participation from its users (radio) - Hot Medium: demands a low level of participati
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