Forum 1

First, please post here by midnight on Monday September 18th a 500 word response on any particular aspect of the reading we’ve done for class so far. Keep in mind that more specific responses are nearly always more compelling – try, if you can, to quote or refer to particular passages to support your point.

Second, make sure you provide an engaged response to at least one classmates’ post by 11:59pm September 19th. Feel free to respectfully disagree with each other if it’s in the interest of probing into an issue more deeply!

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39 thoughts on “Forum 1

  1. For my forum post, I decided to write about the History of Computers by Jussi Parikka. At first, I thought the title seemed a bit boring and uninteresting. But, when I started reading and unraveling the key points of the piece, it started to make a lot more sense. The way Parikka starts the piece by saying, “In a way, there is no history of computers, but multiple histories of computer technologies, components, and practices,” (Parikka, 1) got me hooked into what the piece was actually about. To me, society is so focused on what’s happening now and what’s being created now, but I think it’s also important to focus on what these new things are being stemmed from. Personally, I didn’t know the background of the programmability and nature of a computer and its history. When Parikka started to explain the programmable loom and how it used a cylinder “which contained instructions for the interaction of the needles, threads, and cords,” (Parikka, 2) I was blown away. When you look at a modern computer, you don’t really have to think about how it’s software and programs actually work. You also don’t have to see what’s happening, which to me is kind of impersonal compared to how older computers worked. When Parikka started explaining programmability and how the punch card principle was a bigger part of programmability. At first I was confused as how it relates to computing today. But when Parikka explained the punch card principle as “punching a card with a hole to indicate a change in value is an early example of a hardware of programming that persists even today,” (Parikka, 2) it started to make sense to me. When she connected this principle to how it works in voting systems today, I started to connect some of the history of computing that I have learned to today. For example, some would say that we still use “ancient” ways of counting our votes in the US. They are all tallied by a machine which seems foreign to us. But, it’s just a version of a computer. Personally, I prefer digital over analog devices, but that doesn’t mean that they do the same exact thing. I like how Parikka put that the analog vs. digital debate is the “discourse of digitality,” (Parikka, 2). I thought that was a really interesting and compelling way to describe how we, as a society, are using digital devices more and more today. I found it particularly interesting how Parikka explained the Media Archaeological Method. She highlights that this theory “emphasize(s) the linear narrative of how we got here,” (Parikka, 4). When we, as a class, went to the Media Archaeology lab, I was a little overwhelmed by all of the history. Then, I realized, all of the devices in the lab were important to explaining how we got here today. Comparing the old and new is really important in understanding the devices we are using today. To end my forum post, I want to leave with a quote from Parikka that appears at the end of her piece. She says that when we are studying the history of computers, we “cannot neglect material and practices that come from other media contexts,” (Parikka, 6).

    1. It was nice to read something different! I wrote about Mchluan and his views. Even just in my writing, it was easy to get wrapped up in the uses of technology. However, I think it is important, like you noted, that we understand the history of certain technologies. We spend so much time worrying about the positive and negative impacts of media that we forget how far we have actually come. I totally know what you mean when you said that you had no understanding of how computers work. I appreciated Parikka’s writing because my eyes were opened to the details and makings of certain technologies.

  2. Over the last two weeks, we have discussed multiple views on media and technology. The work of literary scholar, Mchluan, has left the biggest impact on me thus far. The biggest take away from Mchluan is the quote “the medium is the message.” This was a hard concept for me to wrap my brain around at first, but now it makes so much sense. The thing that you choose to write on, impacts the way your message is interpreted. Take for example, a message to your mother. You can choose to handwrite your letter using pen and paper, or send a text message using emojis. Even if you say the same thing, the reader will have a different reaction to the message. Handwritten notes are way more personal and meaningful than a quick text message. I agree with Mchluan’s thinking here. He points out that content is entirely separate from the medium. However, they lean on one another and enhance each other. How you choose to portray your message, influences the message that readers and viewers take home. Another example of this would be a painting. The painting portrays a message, but that message would be different if it was a statue instead of a painting. Mchluan expands his ideas by viewing “media as extensions of man.” He sees every invention as an amputation or an extension of some part of the human body. Let’s look at phones. Phones are an extension of your voice; you can reach more people. However, they are an amputation of your eyes and legs because instead of having to walk somewhere to tell someone something, you can just call them. Expanding on this idea, and relating it to our current situation, today’s technology amputates and extends our nervous system. One other crucial take away from Mchluan is that all media is a recombination of old media. There is no such thing as media that exists in and within itself. Our current computers incorporate multiple forms of old media. Most laptops nowadays have speakers, radios, cameras, and phones. I really like Mchluan’s way of thinking. He brings up great points that cause you to stop and think about what media would get your message across best. That being said, I do think it gets to a point where you start to overthink everything you do. You would never get anything done if every time you went to write, you questioned what form of media you should use. The nice thing about having so many options, is that you can pick what is most convenient for the time being. Sure, it would be nice to handwrite all the letters you send to your family, but that is not realistic considering the world we live in. If I had to mail every letter to my family, we wouldn’t talk for days at a time. It takes me several days to actually get my butt to the post office. Then add on the days it takes for the letter to arrive. Phones are great because I can quickly contact my family. There are definitely things that should be done one way and only one way, but I like having options. I appreciate Mchluan’s views because they have opened my eyes to the importance of writing on multiple mediums.

    1. You make a lot of interesting points that never occurred to me about the article. I love the analogy of comparing different forms of media to sculpture versus a painting. Even more refined than that, the painting would be completely different if it was watercolor than if it was oil paint. Another topic I found interesting in your post was about how communication has changed so much that now letter writing is not sufficient. I love writing and receiving letters but we have become so used to the immediacy of a response that we could not rely solely on the post office as our mediator for communicating with people far away. However, this change in communication outlets has also changed the way we talk to other people as McLuhan has predicted. Our conversations are much more informal than they used to be because we craft responses in a 10 second, 5 word text message rather than a thought out, transcribed paragraph.

    2. I like and agree with a lot of the points you bring up in your post. I agree that this concept of the medium being the message was a little bit of a difficult concept to wrap my head around at first. I liked your example about the letter to your mom, and also your follow up example about paintings vs. sculptures, and the various ways those types of medium could have the way they’re presented through their content impact their message. I think these examples helped open me up to McLuhan’s way of thinking more than I initially was.

    3. Hi! I really enjoyed reading your post. You definitely brought up things that I missed while reading the article. I especially liked your example with the texts and emojis verses handwritten letter, things definitely tend to always get misinterpreted when read by someone else. You bring up some good points while discussing the content and the medium. I agree with you completely when you are talking about how they are separate. I also like your points overthinking everything, it is true that we do tend to overthink everything we do and use, and if we were always trying to figure out which media we should use we would never get anything done. With all of our new technology it does make it much harder to communicate through things like letters I agree, because people want things done fast and consistent, but it also makes communication much harder because of how people interpret things when read online or over text.

  3. In Marshall McLuhan’s book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, he writes a chapter explaining his concept of the “medium” being the “message”, arguing for the universal acknowledgement that no media exists in and of itself separate from all media. All media is a recombination of old media that is presented as new things. Within the chapter, McLuhan introduces General David Sarnoff in order to refute his statement that, “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value,” (Mcluhan 11). From Sarnoff’s perspective, humans have tendencies to blame things they are doing on the technology they use. An example we talked about in class to portray Sarnoff’s perception was the atomic bomb. Sarnoff would argue that, along the lines of his statement, the atomic bomb would be neutral, it just depends on the way you use it. We could produce numerous bombs for storage, but it wouldn’t make any impact unless we used them with violent intentions; they, “are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value,” (McLuhan 11). McLuhan refutes Sarnoff’s statement on the basis that it is too generalized a concept to make about technology. McLuhan is urging Sarnoff, and supporters of this statement, to think more critically about things instead of simplifying things and implying that all technologies have inherent tendencies to persuade and transform buyers into passive consumers.
    In our class discussion, I applied both Sarnoff and McLuhan’s perspectives to the example of the effects of video games on younger kids’ behaviors in order to better help me understand and apply the distinctions between Sarnoff’s viewpoint versus McLuhan’s. The video game “Call of Duty” centers on the hunting and killing of other players in a warzone-type atmosphere. Some argue that the violent behaviors kids acquire at a young age are stemmed from the violence that the video games incorporate. Sarnoff would argue that video games are in themselves not bad, it is how these children apply the video games to their lives. So, in short, he would argue that it was the kid that decided to apply that violence from technology into his own life, not the technology itself. It is all how a person uses the piece of technology. McLuhan would argue that there is an inherent tendency in video games to turn the consumers into passive buyers, that there are always hidden tendencies in technology. With this particular example, I think that every medium has a nature of any and all media. If you are unable to see how media affects you both positively and negatively, then you have been completely seduced by the medium “Narcissus”, looking at yourself instead of the medium (McLuhan 11). I take the stance that we are all “sleepwalking,” unable to see media for what they are because they are acting on each other constantly.

    1. I personally understood also that Mcluhan wrote as media being not good nor bad. However, after one of our lectures my mind changed when we discussed the part where Mcluhan claimes that media has tendencies and as do forms of communication. He used the example of small pox. Even though small pox is a form of communication I personally cannot think of an instance that smallpox can be used positively. I really liked the example you gave of video games and their affect on young kids and violence. I cannot truly see this violence having a poisitive impact on small kids minds, but I also don’t know if violence would not exist if these games didn’t; but they do influence decisions. I agree with Mcluhan in this way because I don’t think it’s fair to say that violence in media does not play a role when exposed to kids at a young age.

    2. I think that your analysis of General Sarnoff’s statement was really interesting and I really like the idea you applied to McLuhan’s statement of “the medium being the message.” You said that you think that this means that all media is a combination of current and previous media, while I think that he’s saying that the message being communicated by the medium can’t be separated from the medium itself. However, I think there’s actually room for both of us to be right and I think it’s definitely likely that he was actually saying both of these things! I liked your analysis because I had never thought about the medium being the message in that way. I also like your compilation of viewpoints in the Sarnoff vs. McLuhan conversation because I think that both viewpoints can hold true. While I agree with McLuhan that some media may be inherently good-leaning or bad-leaning, I also agree with Sarnoff that some media may be totally neutral, and it may be more about how we engage with it.

  4. Joelle Greene
    Paper Forum #1
    18 September 2017
    The Medium is the Message

    In our class, Introduction to Digital Media, we have been discussing topics revolved around digital media and technology. Many of these topics can be hard to wrap your head around, but when thoroughly analyzed they can be extremely interesting. The article I chose to focus on is The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan. Marshall was a professor, philosopher, and a public intellectual. He was very focused on the study of media theory, and media itself. Marshall was very interested in mediums, saying that the medium is the message.
    McLuhan wants us to focus on the medium, not just what it produces. He discusses lightbulbs while trying to explain this even further. He explains that when people are looking at certain things, say a neon sign, people are only reading the words that the lights are producing. They are completely ignoring the medium or the content of what is behind the word, or how that word is being produced. He also feels that we as humans are not recognizing the importance of electricity. “The message of the electric light is like the message of electric power in industry, totally radical, pervasive, and decentralized. For electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association…”(McLuhan,9). He is trying to explain that humans are so used to electricity, it has become a colossal part of our every day lives, so much so that we don’t understand anymore how much we truly need it. We would not know what to do without it being there. When McLuhan says that electric light and power have eliminated time and space factors he is talking about how we are able to know what is going on everywhere around the world at all different times. Without things like the radio or T.V. we would be left uninformed and unable to attain information that is not in our reach. It is eliminating that space between us and others far away. I agree with McLuhan in the argument that we as humans do not appreciate how important electricity is. We don’t think about the way the lights that are allowing us to watch live sports games at night. We do not think about what is under that neon sign, and we have lost the idea of the medium behind the light.
    Another discussion brought up in the article is McLuhan’s disagreement with General David Sarnoff. General David Sarnoff was an American Pioneer in the development of television broadcasting and the radio. McLuhan disagreed with David Sarnoff on his ideas about the good and bad of technology. Sarnoff believes that humans often blame the things that they are doing on the technology itself or the product that they are using, when realistically technology is completely neutral. There is no good or bad in it itself. McLuhan believes that Sarnoff’s ideas are ridiculous, and technology does have some inherent qualities. Sarnoff believes that technology only adds while McLuhan believes technology extends and amputates. By extending and amputating McLuhan means for example how cars extend your legs, but they also amputate your legs. I argue that McLuhan is correct when saying that some technology does have inherent qualities, for example I do not believe that an atomic bomb is neutral. On the other hand, I agree with Sarnoff while saying that humans are the ones that decide how to use them, not the machine itself. For example, social media can be an amazing thing, it can let you advertise things, share news, or express yourself. Social media can also be terrible, it can spread fake news, or people may use it for cyber bullying, so I do agree with Sarnoff when he says that some technologies can be viewed as neutral. I feel both of these men are being too broad while discussing this topic.

    1. I enjoyed that you included Mcluhan’s example of the electric light and how electric power is “radical, pervasive, and decentralized,” because I agree that society doesn’t acknowledge that electricity is a necessity of daily life that many people take for granted (Mcluhan 11). If electricity were to be taken away from us, we wouldn’t be able to function without it. The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just because it has no “content.” Electric light has become an aspect of every single one of our lives and yet we don’t even take the time to appreciate its full effect on our existence. I also found it interesting from our discussion in class how Mcluhan’s use of the word “radical” truly conveys how the factors that were insurmountable decades ago are now attainable due to electricity. For people of a different era, electricity was “radical” in the sense that it was impossible for them to comprehend and incomprehensible to those before it was introduced. As a generation before, we couldn’t fathom the idea of electricity and the impact it would later make on modern society, and ironically, after its invention, we don’t know how to fathom without it. This concept leads to Mcluhan’s concept of a global village where electricity has eliminated time and space and all earth dwellers belong to the same community. Electricity provided the world with the opportunity to be up-to-date on what is occurring in all parts of the world. We are all now living in the same world due to electricity. You provided a very good example of how electricity and the lightbulb as a medium is overlooked when applied to electric signs because you don’t pay attention to the neon sign itself but rather what it is spelling out. Mcluhan’s term “global village” exemplifies the importance of the sole way in which we ignore electricity and the significant role that it plays in shaping our society today.

  5. Ben Mangelsdorf
    Forum Post 1
    Jussi Parikka’s “History of Computers” is a history that seems to be counterintuitive – while it does attempt to trace a history of computers throughout their development, they also works to combat the typical linear narrative often used with computing, and instead suggests “multiple histories of computer technologies, components, and practices.” This approach stuck out to me, not only because it seemed unique within the field we are studying (especially after just having read a highly linear history of computing), but also because it seemed unique in general. Often, when approaching a difficult and complex subject, linear histories are forced upon a subject with, as Parikka says, “alternative histories, sidetracks, and failures.” While I found some of the other computer histories we read to be slightly dry, Parikka’s drew me in with her non-linear viewpoint, one that I have found to be a compelling mental exercise to apply to other subjects.
    Parikka argues for the necessity of her viewpoint by bringing up the idea of studying computers “media-archaeologically.” They state that this accounts for a “wider context,” which I agree with. Rather than boiling it down to point A, point B, point C, they are interested in individual pieces of computers in addition to the whole, where each came from, why it was necessary, etc. They do this early in her essay by analyzing programmability’s development alongside software’s development to get a wider view of computing as a whole. This idea of using the media-archaeology viewpoint to track down the stories of the parts, as they do when they analyze programmability evolving from the loom, personally makes more sense and feels more full than the simple list we were also given in stark contrast to this piece.
    In addition to backing up this viewpoint by arguing that it provides “wider context,” Parikka provides another reason, which to me feels highly pragmatic, saying that “we can be happy to excavate without wanting to write one long history.” This to me felt useful in tying the whole approach together, as well supporting the argument for a media-archaeological approach. This idea essentially states that any information dug up about computing can be useful when operating under this viewpoint. Before, if someone discovered some computing failure that did not fit into the typical linear narrative, it was not useful; now, all information can be used to construct this more complete history, or rather histories. Realizing the depth of this statement helped me see just why a media-archaeological approach should be preferred, and just how it accounts for a wider, more complete understanding of the history of a particular subject.
    While not all subjects can be studied using this exact media-archaeological approach, I do think that trying to view histories as non-linear can be highly productive to understanding different topics. The history of literature, for example, is one that I feel can highly benefit from this: rather than author A reading author B, feeling inspired, and creating novel A, a more complete history can be gathered, such as author A reading authors B, C, D, then going back to C, then starting a novel, scrapping it, reading D again, creating novel A finally … A non perfect history, one that is not completely focused on its own linearity, can be more accurate and full. Most, if not all, stories in our universe are fractured and incomplete in some manner, aside from those that are artificially constructed. I believe Parikka’s approach to computer history can be applied, if at least in a slight form, to almost anything.

    1. I really like the perspective you had on this article, especially how you explained it in the end made me really understand the concept of linear history and the difference this can make in not having a linear process. I don;t know if I would go as far to say that Parikka’s approach to computer history can be applied to anything but I really appreciated the way you viewed her perspective on linear history.

  6. I agree that General David Sarnoff’s quote about how we use media as a scapegoat for our actions is very helpful. I’ve always gotten annoyed when people blame individual’s downfalls (or what appear to them to be downfalls) on technology. People condemn technology a lot for things that don’t even make sense, like ruining communication … when it’s really up to the user to decide how they want to use the technology, whether that’s for harming communication or enhancing it.

  7. In Introduction To Digital Media, we have discussed many different interesting and complex theories and rules relating to technology, and we have read many pieces discussing, analyzing and expanding on these ideas. For my forum post, the particular piece I decided to write about is “The Medium Is the Message” by Marshall McLuhan. The concept in this piece that sticks out as the most interesting or important is the one that McLuhan’s lays out in the title. When I first read this piece, I couldn’t quite figure out what McLuhan meant by this, the medium being the message, but now I understand that McLuhan is trying to say that the medium, which is to be thought of as whatever the main technology behind something is, while it has no control of the content it is used to advance, is still ultimately behind the message that comes from that medium. McLuhan uses the example of light, saying that a lightbulb has no control over what it’s being used for. It could lighting up a stadium during a nighttime baseball game or helping a doctor see during brain surgery. The content the medium is being used for is drastically different, and yet the “message” of the medium (it’s main function) is still the same, as either way it’s providing light. This example helps explain why McLuhan wants to focus on the medium more than the content it produces. He gives an example that when most people see a neon sign, they focus on what they sign is saying (it’s content) rather than the lights themselves (the medium). I would say on this point I disagree with McLuhan, as I think the medium is put there in the first place to support and give a platform for the content it produces, and that focusing on the medium over the content would be reductive. However, while I don’t necessarily agree with McLuhan, I also would say I don’t agree with his opponent General David Sarnoff (they didn’t have a formal debate, but McLuhan spends a good portion of this piece debating or criticizing points made by Sarnoff) either. Sarnoff seems to claim that the medium itself is an entirely pointless point of debate, and that since the medium has no say over its content, shouldn’t be held accountable. Sarnoff states, “we are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value” (McLuhan 11). This argument seems invalid though, and some technology and tools of communication are built for an inherently more sinister purpose. While any object could be used for either good or bad purposes, it makes more sense to blame the atomic bomb for it’s destruction rather than, say, a shoe. So while some objects are truly neutral, I would say to Sarnoff that other mediums, while they can also be used in positive ways, have too much potential for negative repercussions to be seen that way.

    1. On your point of media having way too much potential for negative repercussions, I would have to agree, and I would like to add on. It’s not just the potential that makes it impossible for media to be neutral. “There is simply nothing in the Sarnoff statement that will bear scrutiny, for it ignores the nature of the medium, of any and all media, in the true Narcissus style of one hypnotized by the amputation and extension of his own being in a new technical form.” In this quote, McLuhan says several things, and in this instance, he is claiming that media have a nature. They have a characteristic, or a quality about them that ruins their chances of being neutral. Media can have different characteristics (they aren’t all the same), but the nature is still there. This can include potential, or harmful tendencies, or a nature to do good.
      As for media being the platform for the content, I don’t believe that McLuhan is undermining the content. Rather, I think he’s trying to explain that the content itself is also another form of media. There is no “content,” just media on media on media. The idea of “content” distracts us from this, which is why McLuhan is trying to avert our gaze, so to speak.

      1. Elisha, I loved your analysis of “The Medium is the Message.” I completely agree with you in how it’s not that media to cause harm or become problematic in our lives but it is the way we decide to use it. At the same time though I think about what the intentions of why the media was invented and how it keeps society invested in buying and being obsessed. I would even argue controlled. I can choose not to own or drive a car, but I cannot choose to live in a world where the automobile represents a primary form of transportation or the use of cell phones how it has become also a primary way of communicating. The decisions of how the media adapts or innovate are not always in control of oneself. The way of how the media innovates or we adapt to it is unpredictable and that is scary.

  8. The article I chose to comment about is Bolter and Gruisin’s Remediation. While I had many feelings and thoughts while reading this, there were some ideas that I really wanted the authors to delve deeper into. During much of this reading, I would come up with questions or concepts that were not addressed. This is likely due to this article being written 20 years ago and the advent of new tech and trends that follow.

    One passage that truly had me questioning photography in an “out of the box” kind of mentality was on page 26. “Photography overcame subjectivity in a way un-dreamed of by painting, a way that could not satisfy painting, one which does not so much defeat the act of painting as escape it altogether: by automatism, by removing the human agent from the task of reproduction.” The authors go on to say, “Photography and the cinema… are discoveries that satisfy, once and for all and in its very essence, our obsession with realism.” And finally, “But even if we cannot always tell synthesized images from photographs, we can distinguish the different strategies that painting and photography have adopted in striving for immediacy.”

    I found this particular section to be really interesting in the advent of the Instagram or really the all-encompassing social media world we are in where filters and photoshopping are commonplace. On a much deeper level, one could argue that by photoshopping pictures of ourselves (or others), we are in essence striving for our own internal version of “self-immediacy.” We alter the way we look to achieve an ideal version, similar to how we modify technology with our end goal being immediacy as well.

    To break down the quotes I chose, along the same lines, if we look at the act of photoshopping, does photography suddenly become as subjective as a realistic painting? With someone who edits photos, they are adding the human agent back into the scenario, as in the case of painting.

    The next passage states that photography satisfies our obsession with realism. But the idea and act of photoshopping an image counters this point. Our obsession with realism is discarded and is replaced by our obsession for the desire for false perfection and realism. That once a magazine model is photoshopped, they may be a shadow of their former self. It is then that her influence is felt because people are no longer obsessing over realism, they are obsessing over the exact opposite (a fake image) even if it is paraded as realism.

    The last chosen quote discusses how, despite viewing a synthesized image, photography and painting still strive for immediacy. However, again, in the case of a photoshopped image, is that image really striving for immediacy? It is definitely not striving for an authentic level of immediacy. But the image itself may be so well photshopped, that immediacy and realism become our reactions. In the cases that an image is not photoshopped well (ie. A crooked nose, a waste that is unrealistically thin, a body that has lost proportions, etc.), does it then become hypermediacy due to our awareness of an image that has been altered?

  9. Throughout the readings we have had so far, Jack Copeland’s “The Modern History of Computing” has stuck out to me the most. Even more specifically, the excerpts on Babbage and analog computing. The article gave me a more well-rounded knowledge of computers other than the digital ones I had known of. With a better understanding of the foundations of computing, it allowed me to go into the next readings more open-minded about what constitutes “computing” and “media”. I went in thinking that this text would be dull and dry however, I found myself very interested because of my lack of knowledge on computers and technology in general. Beginning with Babbage, a math professor at Oxford, he sought to build a machine that could produce math tables and did produce a small working machine in 1822. However, by his death in 1872, a full-scale model of his analytical engine was under construction but not completed. However, Babbage did keep the company of Ada Lovelace who “foresaw the possibility of using the Analytical Engine for non-numeric computation”. Lovelace is often referred to as the “mother of computing” because of her forward thinking in the mathematic field. I find it to be badass that a woman is the founding mother of a now male-dominated field. She saw that Babbage’s Analytical Engine could become more than just machine that calculated math tables, but a machine that could possibly produce complex musical compositions and un-math-related computations.

    I especially enjoyed reading about analog computers. “In analog computers, numerical quantities are represented by, for example, the angle of rotation of a shaft or a difference in electrical potential. Thus the output voltage of the machine at a time might represent the momentary speed of the object being modelled.” This is an example the author gives on how to understand that word “analog”. I gathered that it is a display of one endlessly-valued quantity by another quantity. They were quite spectacularly constructed computers; the oldest models, invented by James Thomas and Lord Kelvin, used wheel and disc integrators and Hannibal Ford significantly improved their design. Analog computers that were built after the 1920’s can be described with the concept that each function used is a black box which are connected and work by plugging wires into different sockets on a patch panel. Each of these boxes are set up so they perform desired sets of fundamental processes simultaneously, solving equations and providing considerable feedback. The function that runs these equations is called an electronic differential analyzer thus making analog computers “program controlled”. Since the analog computer’s functions work in parallel, it is relatively quick at providing output. However, analog computers are much more costly than digital computer which is why when the world was racing to build the best computer the analog ultimately lost the race. It seems to me that analog computers could be extremely efficient and I found myself wondering: could these come back some day? Their accuracy and precision are uncanny and the speed it can perform given tasks would be quite an advantage in certain forms of academia such as mathematics and sciences.

    1. I agree with you and the fact that The Modern History of Computing had given you more knowledge on the history of computers. Personally, I thought this piece was a little confusing at first, but when I started to realize that the devices used back then were just the foundations for the devices we use now, it all started to make more sense to me. I also thought that the piece was going to be a little boring, but when I started to dive into the reading, I realized how little I know about these devices, too. I think it is also important that we study these devices and learn about them because it is critical to learn the history of the devices we are using today.

    2. When I read “The Modern History of Computing” I had the same enlightenment when it came to my knowledge in past computers. I found it really eye opening how much knowledge I lack about our computers now. I’ve always considered myself really helpful when it came to other peoples computer issues but if I had to fix an issue inside the computer I wouldn’t even be able to open it. The reading impressed me when I looked up pictures of the computers, specially Babbage because they are so enormous. Now we all rely heavily on these thing computers and take all of its actions for granted. I also think it’s amazing to be able to look back and see that in a male-dominated topic such as computers that behind scenes it really was women who were doing the majority of the computer work.

  10. The reading I will be discussing is “The Medium is the Message” by Marshall Mcluhan. It was the reading that I presented on, and I found the subject interesting to analyze while at the same time frustrating to work with. The point that stood out to me the most was Mcluhan’s argument against General David Sarnoff in which he essentially argues that technology is not dependent on the use of it and that it is itself a negative and powerful media. He compares technological devices to guns and smallpox to exaggerate his point that the source of negativity is in the nature of technology.

    When I first read this statement, I believed Mcluhan agreed with the belief that the media does not hold the qualities of good nor bad on its own, and that rather people hold the power to make the media go either way on the moral spectrum. After further examination in class, we discussed that he was criticizing that statement because he believed technology to be as powerful as a gun, or the example we used in class about the atomic bomb. I do not agree with Mcluhan’s argument because I do believe that technology is shaped by our use of it.

    Guns were designed with the intention to harm other life forms, and smallpox rose as a biological threat to human lives. Both instruments are harmful to human nature, and it is difficult to argue the counter. Although guns may bring safety in some cases, the ultimate effect of a gun is negative because it always results in some sort of destruction. Similarly with smallpox, people may survive and find that their bodies are tougher at combating one disease, but it takes more energy to reduce the symptoms and once cured we cannot ward off other deadly diseases. Both guns and diseases produce harmful byproducts that are inevitable upon their use. On the other hand, technology can be used in countless ways that do not involve negative results.

    Also Mcluhan’s argued that technology is an extension as well as the amputation of our bodies. If we dissect technology with that in mind, we should not consider this particular media as a separate thing. Technology exists in a sequence that makes us codependent, and rather than seeing technology as a tool like a gun we should be dissecting it as a tool that is “an extension of ourselves”. We would not consider our teeth to be weapons in and of itself because there are less people using teeth as a weapon than there are people using teeth to help them eat.

    Technology gives us the ability to transcend boundaries that we never could before, but it was designed to be a tool to aid our way of communicating to one another. If Mcluhan believes roads to be a form of communication, then he should value technology as a media that enhances our social abilities to interact and build from one another. In the context of technology as Mcluhan presents it, we continuously shape the way technology is used thus it cannot be compared to a tool of destruction.

  11. Our most recent assigned reading, “Remediation” by Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin I have found to be the most interesting. Specifically, I found myself contrasting the two professors’ ideals with that of Marshall McLuhan in “The Medium is the Message.”
    In “Remediation” it is stated that, “…our culture wants to multiply its media and erase all traces of mediation.” As media consumes our lives more and more, forward thinkers are trying to find a way to seamlessly integrate it into our lives so that the medium is no longer relevant. One example provided in the text was that of a “computer desktop”. It is built to simulate a traditional desk with applications such as a trashbin, sticky notes, a calendar, and an inbox. The “immediacy” that occurs when you drag an item into the trash is supposed to feel the same as if you crumpled up a piece of paper and threw it in the garbage. This is designed to make the computer interface feel “natural rather than arbitrary.” This “immediacy” that Grusin and Bolter discuss is how the medium gets lost in the process.

    “The immediacy dictates that the medium itself should disappear and leave us in the presence of the thing represented.”
    (Bolter, Grusin)

    McLuhan would disagree with the above statement and argue that the disappearing medium would leave us in our “somnambulant” state that keeps us unaware of how the medium is affecting the content that it carries. However, with greater evolution of technology has also come greater transparency of media. Bolter and Grusin imply that the future of media is to make it obsolete to the viewer as they are completely immersed in the content. Virtual reality is one example of this. When a user has on virtual reality goggles, he/she is so completely engrossed in the experience that she does not recognize the physical medium being present. Grusin and Bolter describe the aim of virtual reality as hoping to “diminish and ultimately deny the mediating presence of the computer and its interface.” This is the difference between seeing a computer screen with a picture of the mountains surrounded by a layout with text and graphics, and simply seeing the mountains as they exist in reality, undistracted by the platform they are presented on. In “Remediation”, André Bazin is quoted as saying “photography and the cinema are discoveries that satisfy, once and for all and in its very essence, our obsession with realism.” Grusin and Bolter reject this statement by explaining that computer graphics have taken that even one step further, considering the occasions when synthesized images become so realistic that they are unrecognizable from a legitimate photograph. The “hypermediacy” that is periodically referred to in the text has surpassed the presence of photography and video simply being represented on a screen, so that it is necessary to be able to engage with the content coming through the medium. With this continuously forward thinking approach to media, it is likely that McLuhan’s argument will soon be lost with the integration of the medium and the surrounding world.

  12. Lacey Porter
    Forum Post 1
    September 18, 2017

    Within our class’s readings these past couple weeks about media, there was one specific quote that really grasped my mind from McLuhan’s “The Medium Is the Message”. As General David Sarnoff stated “We are too prone to make technological instruments scapegoats for the sins of whose who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value.” (McLuhan, 11). In the reading this quote was determined by McLuhan as incorrect, he compared it to saying “The smallpox virus is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way it’s used that determines its value.” (McLuhan, 11). I actually found my opinion within the boundaries of Sarnoff’s argument, in this day and age we are so quick to say that horror movies and violent games lead to our children becoming aggressive people or even link shooting games to possibly being a reason that a teen were to shoot up his school. As Sarnoff said, it’s the way that we use these forms of media which lead to us determine their value to us, or more so the “effect” they have on us. I grew up in a very strict household when it came to rated-r movies because they would put bad thoughts into my head, or make me believe that such things were ok in our world. Believe me when I say, I’ve watched plenty of terrible rated-r movies and have yet to become a murderer or even a bad person. We all listen to rap and popular music, try to name one song you like that came out in the past year that doesn’t cuss. Now that you’re thinking about the songs you like; do you cuss any more than you did before you listened to them? Just because a rap song calls girl “bitches” I have yet to meet someone that started to call girls bitches after listening to rap. I believe the person who cusses or does something poor is in charge of their own actions, sure bad influences can play a part but not all of the time. McLuhan, on the other hand isn’t entirely wrong in his opinion, because this mindset that media isn’t good nor bad until given its value by us relies on the definition of media. McLuhan believes media can be pretty much anything that communicates with another subject, for example when he talked about smallpox, you can’t exactly say that It’s not a type of media since the virus in a way communicates with the cells. Media can really be anything if you think about it, a road is a way to transport your car from place to place a sense of communication. Another example being a bird, back in the day we put notes on their legs and had them serve as the communication between two people. To end my thoughts, they were both correct in their arguments in certain ways, Sarnoff’s opinion on technology neither being good nor bad on our moralities is correct but McLuhan’s opinion can be correct in the way that we cannot control the effects that some none-technology forms of media may have on us.

  13. Aspen McCall
    ENGL 2036
    09/18/17
    Forum 1
    “For any medium has the power for imposing its own assumption on the unwary.” (pg. 15). As a society we use all different kinds of medium constantly all day long and don’t really question the implications it could be having on us or on those around us that could be using it to portray different messages. If Mcluhan says technology is not neutral we are unaware of the dangers that it could be placed upon us by using it so carelessly. We mindlessly use technology all the time without thinking twice about the messages that are being sent out from us.
    If Mcluhan is claiming that technology is not inherently neutral, and that all technologies have tendencies but humans can have an influence on the product. How can he still argue that the “medium is the message” are humans then influencing the medium or the message being sent? I would argue that humans have to have an influence on both the medium and the message. We influence the medium by the way we are using it, to send the message that could be either good or bad. That being said the medium we are using to send our message would then be neutral, it is the content of the message that makes the medium either positive or negative. He claims, “The grammar of print cannot help to construe the message of oral and nonwritten culture and institutions.” (pg. 15) This would make grammar the neutral medium but whatever message is portrayed could be good or bad.
    Mcluhan is big on how “media is an extension of man” every technological invention is both a limitation and an advancement of the human body. The phone is both an advancement of our voices and a limitation of our eyes because we no longer see the people we are having conversations with but now our voice can reach all the way around the world. They change the way we are perceiving the world. Media is changing man but the message we say through the phone or where we drive to in our cars is the good or the bad.

  14. In the article, “Media is the message,” McLuhan does an excellent job of effectively communicating his message in various analogies and examples. He believes that media is a platform for ideas, human communication and activity and an extension of ourselves. He argues that media shapes context and content and that it has the ability to take away pieces of ourselves while also extending it.
    One thing Mcluhan wrote about was the use of the light bulb as a forum. Electricity and light shaped when, what and how we wrote, advertised, interacted and worked. It shaped day, night and humanity. Mcluhan describes this forum as “pure information,” a forum without content yet with much significance. Although people often don’t see the electric light as a form of communication, if evaluated it isn’t hard to tell that it is in fact a very important one.
    One thing in this piece that stuck out to me the most was how Mcluhan argued that media shapes how we think. An example really helped me clarify and contextual this and that was how the 140 character format that social media site twitter created does in fact shape the way I think. When composing a tweet one must take words out and simplify ideas to fit it into this context and it does really change the way ideas are communicated. I completely agree with this concept he presents. Another example I see a lot as a student is how photos are taken and why. The platform of instagram has changed what kind of photos are prioritized and how often people are taking them. Before social media I think photographs were taken to preserve memories and to capture a moment in a tangible form. Now, however, I think photographs are often taken to show off and impress others. And seeing the pictures others have posted really shapes the way we perceive a person. So, weather Mcluhan is talking about a typewriter or the newest social media rave I think this specific idea is timeless.
    Another point that Mcluhan made that resonated with me personally was how he analogized media to extensions of our body. One example we talked about in class was the telephone; the telephone may take away the necessity to walk and the ability to see whom we are speaking to but it also extends our voices and our thoughts. I guess in this day and age people often see technology and media as a new invention and Mcluhan is almost refuting that. He is trying to point out that we are just expanding on ourselves. When I first understood this I initially disagreed with this. I thought; well what are photographs extending? It cannot be our eyes, as photographs can now see things even our eyes cannot. But, I realized that photography can also be an extension of our memories. So, I came to focus this way of thinking into other concepts and I came to the conclusion that perhaps this analysis of media should be further discussed because in some ways I struggle to understand his idea in every format.

  15. Kate Cooper
    I have found many of the points we have discussed thus far in class to be quite thought-provoking. One thing I have been thinking about a lot has been Marshall McLuhan’s idea that the media is the message. In the expert we read from his work Understanding Media, we learned about his perspective on how media and humans interact with one another. Now that all forms of media are so completely pervasive and ever-evolving, I began to think of social media. Social media is the perfect example for how media both amputates and extends the human body. First and foremost it amputates almost everything and as Kittler said allows the eyes and ears to exist autonomously, but at the same time it extends our legs and allows for the “global village” to become even smaller. With social media, we do not have to be physically present in five places at once to be communicating with five different people who are in five different places. This idea leads into then the idea that the media itself is the message. Take Snapchat for example. Snapchat is an incredibly easy and lazy way to stay in constant contact with your friends. Independent of what each individual who uses Snapchat is saying in each individual snap it speaks to the widely accepted ideas, and stereotypes, about millennials and consumers in the information age that we are self-centered and constantly need to take photos of ourselves, that we need instant gratification and information, and that we cant exists without remaining in mundane and constant communication without friends. The form of communication is speaking to a larger degree about the values that its consumers hold. Of course, I personally love Snapchat and think that it’s a really easy way to stay in contact with the people I love who are all over the world, but it has become such a pervasive part of my existence that I never stop to consider what different aspects surround this medium.
    I also found McLuhan’s ideas around the light bulb as the medium to be really interesting. Similar to how I stated that social media allows for an even smaller “global village” in that it connects people more easily than ever before, McLuhan states that “… electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association … creating involvement in depth” (9). So in the same way that we do not notice the pervasiveness of objects we traditionally consider to be media, the light bulb is equally as big a factor in what makes our eyes and ears autonomous to our bodies. In a literal sense, the light bulb allows the human eye to see more, but it also brought about great change and trajectory in the evolution of how we communicate. Electric light is the medium not just because it can be incorporated into so many different media, but because it is equally as pervasive and important to our modern ability to communicate as other forms of media are.

  16. “The Medium is the Message,” by Marshall Mcluhan is the article that struck me as the most important and influential article that we’ve read so far. Mcluhan gives the reader a different image of media and what it can mean in our modern society. Most people would not consider light to be a medium, but in reality it is one of the greatest mediums we have. It can alter one’s perception of a store front (such as a neon sign), or it can help a brain surgeon to see their job/goal more clearly. Mcluhan states that, “It could be argued that these activities are in some way the ‘content’ of the electric light since they could not exist without the electric light.” Light, depending on how it is used can give us a new perspective or outlook on any given concept or idea, just as Instagram does (a typical media platform).

    The medium changes everything about what one is trying to emulate and get across to the general public. Mcluhan argues that, “The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium because it has no ‘content.’ And this makes it an invaluable instance of how people fail to study media at all.” Mcluhan means that when people (and I know I think this way as well) think of media, they picture Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, all social apps generated through a computer or an iPhone that directly tells you what you should be looking at. Your “explore” page shows you photos that you should be paying attention to based on what you’ve already been viewing. Your “media” is tailored to you specifically by an app that most people can barely comprehend how it even works behind the scenes. This part of media is what is perceived as so problematic. But, the light is completely different. It is not tailored to you by technology (usually), it is tailored to you by a real live person who wants you to look in their store front or know where to go to get to the emergency room in a rush.

    It is stated in the text that, “The smallpox virus is in itself neither good nor bad; it is the way it is used that determines its value.” This can be used as an analogy to media. The medium is neutral in and of itself, but when a person decides to alter it in order to attract certain people or for it to gain attention, that it when the medium becomes the message. Media can impact people negatively or positively, it is all about how it is used, altered and perceived. A little can be good, but too much can be awful. It is simply about the user of such media. Pope Pius XII stated, “It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of modern society and the stability of its inner life depend in large part on the maintenance of an equilibrium between the strength of the techniques of communication and the capacity of the individual’s own reaction.” He is saying that media communicates, but it is up to the consumer to control how much they intake. It must be balanced because mediums have the potential to overload one, but it is only how they are taken. Even social media is not inherently good or bad, it is about how it is used and perceived by the user/consumer.

  17. Of all of the pieces we’ve read and analyzed so far in the semester, the one that I’ve found the most compelling and interesting was a chapter from “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” by Marshall McLuhan. The chapter we focused on for class was titled “The Medium is the Message” and, as the title insinuates, the chapter is centered around that very idea. Before we concentrate ourselves on any one specific section of the reading, let’s first explore and unpack this essential premise. What does McLuhan mean when he says that the medium is the message? Broken down, the phrase essentially means that the message – or the content – and the medium – or the means by which the content is communicated – are irrevocably intertwined. The way that the message comes across is inherently influenced by the medium it resides within. Mediums can range from anything like a newspaper, a movie, a social media platform, or even a light bulb. Essentially, any platform that is used to broadcast some type of information. McLuhan thinks that the message one medium is conveying is always actually a medium within itself. For example, the medium of speech is contained by the medium of writing, which in turn is contained by the medium of print, and so on and so forth. He goes on to acknowledge the fact that the idea of the medium being the message could understandably be considered unsound at first glance to some. He counters this point by saying that while the content is always the more obvious focus and way of absorbing information, the medium has more long term and subtle effects that may not be initially self evident. McLuhan explains that “the ‘content’ of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” While we, as media consumers, are hastily concerned with the message that were being fed, we oftentimes forget to scrutinize the more indirect ways in which the medium is shaping not only those messages but also the layout of our society as a whole. Now that we have a primitive understanding of the premise of the chapter, we can go on to look at a more complicated and specific section. Earlier, I listed a range of things that could be considered variable types of mediums. I included the lightbulb, which I know may be confusing at first since it seems so intrinsically different than the other members of the list, which were things like newspapers, movies, and social media platforms. It seems to me that this difference we pick up on is that while these other mediums have obvious variations of content that they convey, the light bulb does not. McLuhan acknowledges this and says, “the electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message. […] What we are considering here, however, are the psychic and social consequences of the designs or patterns as they amplify or accelerate existing processes. For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. […] The message of the electric light is like the message of electric power in industry, totally radical, pervasive, and decentralized. For electric light and power are separate from their uses, yet they eliminate time and space factors in human association exactly as do radio, telegraph, telephone, and TV, creating involvement in depth.” The idea that McLuhan is trying to communicate is that although there is no direct or obvious content within the lightbulb like there is for so many of the mediums we’re used to seeing, the message it conveys lies within the things it allows us to do, as a society, that we could not do before. To me, this is the most important and enlightening point that he makes in the chapter because this idea is the fundamental reason why it’s so essential to critically analyze the subtle and slow burning effects that these mediums have on society. While the message may instantaneously change things on a micro level, every new medium that comes into play is deliberately, inconspicuously, and constantly molding society on a macro level into new shapes and sizes.

    1. Michaela — wow this is so eloquent! Great post I agree with you 100%! I would only add that in the last quote you mentioned Macluhan talks about media’s involvement in depth. To add even more to your post I think it is important to mention that the greatest impact of electric light and the light bulb itself is its participation in creating the ‘global village.’ I think what makes the light bulb such an impactful medium is that is literally extended the human eye, in allowing it to see more, and it plays a large part in the current autonomy that our eyes and ears are allowed. Eyes and ears have become autonomous to the body because of screens and phones allowing us to communicate and be passive consumers through screens and screens only exist because of electricity and lightbulbs!

    2. I really like that you added in the quote about the message of electric light. That quote definitely emulates the concept that light is power and light controls more than we know. Light is one of the most common mediums, yet it is overlooked and often misconceived. It is true that we are constantly being fed information. We look only at the message, but not at how the medium is affecting the message or why that medium was chosen. I like what you said about the message changing constantly and how it continues to affect our society with every given medium.

  18. So far, as a class we have been spending a lot of time on the “The Medium is the Message” by Marshall McLuhan and so I decided to focus on this topic for my first forum post as a way to ensure I fully understand and remember some of the key points presented in his argument. The idea of the medium being part of the message the writing is trying to get across is oddly not referenced in English courses ever. I have never had a professor ask about what kind of impact a medium has on the meaning behind a text, it is interesting to realize my entire academic career has been spent ignoring the medium, and why is that? Do we ignore the medium because of convenience? When looking at my own book shelf, I’ve noticed a lot of the books I own use different forms of mediums such as a typewriter, receipts, black out poetry, and various other mediums. It’s almost as if I was subconsciously drawn to texts with different mediums. Perhaps I was aware of this phenomenon deep within my mind but had never really acknowledged it enough.
    This idea of the medium having its own message that only adds to the original message printed on the media is not something super out there or unheard of, however, we still have our minds blown when we hear about it in class. Maybe it is because we don’t often think about the different mediums we use and their meaning. For example, texts verses phone calls. Texts are very impersonal in a way and make it hard to tell one’s tone, however they are super quick and convenient. Phone calls on the other hand, force you to actually talk to the person and respond right away, it’s a more intimate kind of conversation. Nowadays, we have certain situations we use for texts and phone calls, for texts we know we can send a quick check in text but can not break up with someone or give bad news over text, that is strictly a phone call or in person conversation. The different kinds of mediums we use to communicate now all have specific functions, benefits, and purposes and perhaps those are based off the message each of those mediums are giving off. The messages in a way control the way we as a society navigate our uses of these various different kinds of media. We pick and choose the type of communication technique we would like to use based on the topic, how serious or intimate the conversation is, and the kind of message we want to send. When looking at the different scenarios one would send a text or call instead, it becomes clear that all our social interactions are controlled and dominated by the messages these mediums send off. Overall, this text was really impactful when it came to forcing me to really sit down and think through why I choose to send a text instead of a call or instead of a letter or even in place of just normal face to face conversations.

    1. I completely agree with your feelings towards the beginning of having neglected the medium in your academic career. I feel like it is something that students don’t challenge themselves to think about. I know every one idly pulls out notebook paper and pull up microsoft word for class notes and print papers and articles on bright white sheets of paper, but when we do those things we don’t think about the implications of taking notes on notebook paper verses on a laptop or printing my papers on white paper instead of eggshell or cream. Mcluhan really pushes us to consider the background concepts that actually help build the foreground that we live and create media on.

  19. Alma Hinojosa
    September 18, 2017
    Forum #1

    In the reading, “The Medium is The Message” by Marshal McLuhan it touches on the impact of the medium. According to McLuhan, media are extensions of ourselves. They extend our body, our senses, and nerves in space and time. McLuhan explains that we cannot understand the nature of a medium if we focus on the way that we “use” it. By studying the way that we use a medium it leads to concentrate on it and ourselves ignores the medium itself. In his example of the light bulb he states:

    The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were unless it is used to spell out some verbal as or name. The fact characteristic of all media means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph. (McLuhan 8).

    For McLuhan, a light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs. Although a light bulb enables people to create spaces during nighttime that would otherwise be dark he states it is a medium without any content. His distinctions between hot and cool media seem very interesting to me because I do not think they apply to today’s world. You can watch a movie or a TV show that requires cool media because of how confusing the plot may be and every time you watch the same movie or TV show you pick up on something new from it.
    Or media outlets craft know how to communicate their form and style message to their audience. I think this past presidential election is very interesting how social media was used. Trump was able to strike his opponent through his famous hash tags like #crookedHilary. It was not just the “content” that trump used in his campaign but also the way he said it. This relates to McLuhan’s response to General Sarnoff. “It has never occurred to General Sarnoff that any technology could do anything but add itself on to what we already have” (McLuhan 11). McLuhan was arguing that technology could do anything and add itself on to what we already have.
    Moreover, I think of how the smart cell phone has affected society and what McLuhan would think of it. The cell phone has created ways for us to be connected with each other more than ever before. We can interact with each other through our social media apps, phone calls, and texts on a wider scale. But most of us do not care how the smart phone functions. Our smart phones have become a way to be monitored based on the shopping sites we visit or an addiction because of how they simplify our lives. But what is the role when they are used to record a video on police brutality or a powerful movement that creates attention across the board.

    1. I agree. It seems to me that you are getting at the idea that technology is not simply the extension of an individual but of groups and societies. Our faster ways of communicating with one another other make interpersonal relations more public and pervasive as ever. In our electric age, technology is no longer about just extending our legs and minds but also extending the power of groups. Be it Donald Trump’s tweets as you suggest or the black lives matter movement; the group organism and network are evolving. Twitter is an extension of the mouth but in an exponential way. We can reach the “ears” of thousands and we can hear their “voices” as well.

    2. I agree with your understanding of Mcluhan’s message. The example you used of our cell phones is a great way to understand how Mcluhan thinks of the medium being the message. We do forget what our phone essentially has to offer us, and yet we use it daily. I am sure Mcluhan would agree with you that our phone is an example of how the medium is often overlooked.

    3. I love this idea that you presented about the impact of the smart phone. Going off of that, and off of your first point about technology being extensions of ourselves, it’s interesting to consider the smart phone. A phone is typically (at least in the past) an extension of our mouths and ears, the two main parts of our body used for basic communication. Therefore phone extend our ability to communicate. But in the case of a smart phone, it becomes so much more than that. We now have the ability to face time which adds sight and we have the ability to interact with the phone through touch. The only sense that the smart phone does not satisfy is smell, which sounds odd, but may only be a matter of time before tech is created that encompasses all sense. Definitely interesting to think about.

  20. In Understanding Media, Mcluhen makes the case that the true meaning of any human communication is found in the type of media content. While I believe he was slightly over-exaggerating to make a revolutionary point, I think it is imperative to recognize the limits of his argument; in as far as that the message of any work can be repeated through a variety of mediums.
    Mcluhen describes the content of a piece as simply something to distract the mind. He says, “For the “content” of the medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watch-dog of the mind. The effect of the medium is made strong and intense just because it is given another medium as “content” (18). Here Mcluhen is making the case that rather than paying attention to the media be it opera, twitter, or electricity, we get too lost in the content, what the media is presenting. In fact the burglar cannot interact with our minds are happily satisfied by base needs while our minds are being robbed. While I agree that studying the media itself could give us insight as creators and interpreters of communication, we cannot lose sight of what actually is trying to be expressed.
    Interestingly enough,T.S Eliot used a reversal of the metaphor to talk about poetry specifically in reference to his work, The Wasteland. He uses the same metaphor except the poem’s form and illusions are the meat to distract the mind while the content seeps in. The form simply quiets the reader’s mind, so the message of the poem can steal into the reader’s subconscious. I side with Eliot. While studying the form can enhance the message, when I read the Wasteland, all the things that made it a “poem” came secondary to the content. The structure, the allusions, the cadence, of course added to the message of the poem. But, I take an almost modernist view. There seems to be a Truth in every work. This Truth seems to be replicated in all sorts of media. In all the ways we tell stories, through text, through dance, through vlogs, we are still trying to express the same things about the human condition.
    I am not saying that the content can alter the meaning somewhat. Just the other day, my roommate said something incredibly funny and I wanted to Snapchat that moment to a friend. So I had her repeat what she had said for the camera. However, Snapchat videos can only be 10 seconds. Thus, she shortened what she had to say. Interestingly enough the story became much less funny. The switch from timeless in person vocal folds media to snapchat media altered the way she told her story. Yet her story was the same. She was still able to get her message across, but the over the top comparisons she was making about my friend to Oprah were cut short. Mcluhen was probably attempting to engender a change from being passive consumers of media to active studies of different medium. However, I think we must take a look at how the stories humanity tells are all the same. We will still communicate about love, loss, fear and hope no matter what the medium is.

  21. Elisha Sharp
    9/18/17
    Professor Lori Emerson
    ENGL 2036
    Forum 1

    “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those who wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value.” – General David Sarnoff
    General Sarnoff suggested that media are neither good, nor bad, and that their morality depends entirely on the person who utilizes them. He would have us suppose that media exist without any kind of nature or any kind of impact.
    “There is simply nothing in the Sarnoff statement that will bear scrutiny, for it ignores the nature of the medium, of any and all media, in the true Narcissus style of one hypnotized by the amputation and extension of his own being in a new technical form.” – Marshall McLuhan
    Alternatively, Marshall McLuhan argues that media have a nature to them that cannot be ignored. He suggests that all technologies and media have tendencies. A medium cannot be neutral. An anatomic bomb is not neutral. A virus is not neutral. There are qualities in technology that make it impossible for these things to be neutral. These qualities are the nature of some media. The world is way too gray to make things black and white, good or bad, active or neutral.
    In addition to this, and as a complementing factor, McLuhan argues that media and modern science can both add onto what we already are, and it can also amputate a piece of what we are. By this, he means that our daily lives are fundamentally altered by the technologies and media that we choose to surround ourselves with. In this way, it is impossible for media to be passive, when it is affecting us in such extreme ways.
    A car can extend your legs and help you go faster, but it also cuts out exercise, and the use of your legs. A phone can extend your voice and your ears, but it cuts off the personal aspect of a conversation. Video games may extend your experiences, but may consume your creativity and your time. Social media can extend your voice and communication, but again cuts off the experience of a personal and present conversation. Print extends our ability to write, but removes one’s development of handwriting, and a school’s need to teach cursive. Electric lights can expand our vision at night, but it removes our inborn, or natural idea of the time, and our view of the stars.
    Media cannot be both passive and active in such a way. They have a nature that we tend to ignore. It is impossible for media to be neither good, nor bad, if they have both positive and negative effects on those who implement them.
    I have said that we ignore the nature of the medium, but why is this so? Like General Sarnoff, we may very well have been seduced by our new technological form to be concerned about its life-changing nature.

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