Forum 1

First, please post here by midnight on February 8th 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 February 9th. Feel free to respectfully disagree with each other if it’s in the interest of probing into an issue more deeply!

47 thoughts on “Forum 1

  1. While Friedrich A. Kittler viewed technology in a more negative way, one that focused on its implications and consequences, Marshall McLuhan had a more optimistic light. That technology is an extension or amputation of any human function. He was aware that, yes. Technology is dangerous and as consumers and viewers, we don’t look at technology in the way that we should. Kittler on the other hand, with the Gramophone believed it was similar to encapsulating one’s soul forever. That the voice and personality gives us a sense of immortality. He saw it as dangerous, that extensions of human functions were illustrated through technological advances. He held the belief that technology is being developed to replace us; all whilst developing technology. McLuhan focused on the possibilities. The quotes, “It has never occurred to General Sarnoff that any technology could do anything but add itself on to what we already are.” People are looking at technology all wrong. Searching for the “content”, when how the information is relayed is a part of that content. I found both writers to be similar in the way that they discuss the very real issues with technology. McLuhan examined how to reverse it though, while Kittler with his typewriter had an outlook of; history beginning with writing, and since technology is replacing typing then our history and our lives will end into oblivion. That we shape our minds around technology and the typewriter is symbolic of the world of the machine. That machines take over the functions of the central nervous systems and separated the real and symbolic. With film, he saw it as though film doesn’t mimic our imagination, rather our unconscious mimics the film because it functions as the imaginary, reproducing something that we wish to be. He believes that Turing’s machine is all that computers will be, due to the fact that if numbers and figures will become the key to all creatures. If technology was built on that and everything expands off that basis, than that will be all we are. Marshall shed light on the idea that as mediums are channels which we communicate through and the Global Village, which is the way that electronic media collapsed time and space, and took all barriers off the size of the world and how we interact with each other and the speed at which we’re able to do so. I look at is as though Marshall is the young, liberal nephew to his Uncle who still lives like it’s the 40’s and doesn’t want to give up the past. Kittler sees the power of technology and the destruction and doesn’t want it because he knows that people will not view it the right way. McLuhan is more hopeful, and wants us to be more aware. You may not be able to control it, but you can teach us the right way to use technology. The history of technology is a history of culture, and through these thinkers we see a similar yet juxtaposed train of thought in the progression and utilization of technology in our every day life.

    • I think the idea of viewing McLuhan, as the young, liberal nephew to his uncle who is still living in the past is such a relatable way to look at the differing ideas these theorists have about technology. It puts into perspective the major concerns about technology as well as the major benefits of technology, and how media’s affect on humans depends particularly on how humans choose to view, interpret, and interact with it. It’s easy to write off Kittler as purely negative but I think his ideas are still important to dissect. Kittler did believe that technology would take over the functions of our central nervous system, which is similar to McLuhan’s belief that technology is an extension or amputation of human functions. However, rather than simply taking over human functions, I feel as if McLuhan viewed this as a way to free up space in humans so as to allow us more memory storage for formulating new ideas, rather than Kittler’s view of machines simply taking over. The key difference, I believe, between Kittler and McLuhan is the idea of anthropocentrism, or putting humans at the center of the universe. If humankind is the most important element of existence, then that puts machines, with functions similar to our own, as extremely important elements to us. To decide whether Kittler or McLuhan is correct in their thinking depends on how we, as humans, choose to interact with and understand the media we develop. With this in mind, I find this point to be the most prominent basis of both men’s theories, as well as the most important. So, though McLuhan and Kittler disagree in how they believe humans will choose to interact with and understand media, they agree that it is extremely important for humankind to be aware of media’s implications.

      • I appreciate how you aimed to sympathize with Kittler by relating him to McLuhan. They both understood that technology could be a drawback for humans, and I like how you highlighted that.

  2. Kittler’s “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter” ends with “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.” He supports this idea by explaining how “inside the computers themselves everything becomes a number: quantity without image, sound or voice.” On the outside, a computer looks a certain way and carries out certain actions, however, on the inside a computer consists of numbers. When Kittler says “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures” he makes a comparison of creatures to computers because numbers and figures influence one’s daily life. This results in “any medium [being] translated into any other. With numbers, everything goes.” Because all mediums are composed of numbers, they are all connected to one another and can become one another.

    Kittler discusses how McLuhan believes “one medium’s content is always other media” meaning media consists of other media. Kittler supports this with his theory about mediums all consisting of numbers and how “with numbers, everything goes” meaning all medium are essentially the same. He discusses “storage media” which consist of “writing, film, and photography” because these medium store time and memories. He mentions time again when he says “time determines the limit of all art” meaning that art is limited because it may not outlive time. He discusses how “writing functioned as a universal medium in times when there was no concept of medium” meaning writing was the original way to gather and give information. He also states “writing…stored writing- no more and no less” meaning the words on the page are simply the words on the page. He notes the importance of one’s own handwriting. Handwriting is a representation of someone on paper. Botho Strauss, a German novelist, says handwriting “exposes [him] in all [his] spiritual nakedness,” meaning it exposes his spiritual feelings. Kittler notes that “before the invention of phonography and cinema… handwriting alone could guarantee the perfect securing of traces” because it held the individual almost like a photograph. Kittler explains how “typewriters do not store individuals” because they are not unique to the individual as handwriting is. Kittler also discusses how “book became both film and record… not as a media technological reality, but in the imaginary of readers’ soul” because people could picture what was happening in a book through their imagination.

    Kittler’s discussion of photography is interesting because he connects books and letters’ immortality to photographs’ immortality. He discusses the dead still being present in photographs and letters, rather than in one’s memory. Chris Marker, a French artist, discusses photographs’ ability to carry memories when he says of photographs he took in Japan, “they have now put themselves in place of my memory, they are memory. I wonder how people who do not film, take photos, or record tapes remember, how humankind used to go about remembering.” This concept still holds true today. Many believe most people in society are always concerned with capturing moments through media rather than living them. Marker, however, has a point. By capturing a moment, one can continuously relive and remember that moment. The issue with that is, they may not remember how it felt to be in the moment because they were concerned with capturing it. Kittler also notes how through “memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts, become technically reproducible” meaning they are immortal because they are remembered.

    • I agree with what you said about memory because I think being able to take pictures or record your experiences only captures part of the entire memory. Pictures and film are a good way to store the general events but they can’t always capture the feeling and emotion that go along with a certain experience. However, I think it is still valuable to record our experiences because they make it possible for us to jog our memory and try to recreate what we felt at that moment. Film and imagery are also unique because although they might not reproduce the exact emotions that someone experienced from being there in person, they have the ability to spur different emotions in the person solely experiencing the film or picture, depending on their interpretation of the media.

  3. Friedrich A. Kittler and Marshall McLuhan had several ideas about technology in common. However, Kittler tends to view technological innovation in a less optimistic manner. While McLuhan describes technology as either an extension or amputation of man, Kittler thought that machines were taking over functions of our central nervous systems. He thought that, as our storage media begins to accommodate optical and acoustic data, human memory capacity is bound to dwindle. Both theorists have interesting ideas and force us to examine technology in a new and more profound way. McLuhan regards technology as something that helps humans grow, while at the same time shrinks the world. Media has expanded the length at which communication can occur and shrank the distance between communicators. The medium shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action. McLuhan viewed this as a positive thing. This media helps humans expand their natural abilities in ways they otherwise could not. This is where Kittler’s ideas begin to majorly differ from McLuhan’s ideas. Kittler believed that media, the same media that is collapsing time and space to create a “global village”, is actually hindering our natural human abilities. He thought this media was taking away from humanity because we no longer needed to perform the actions of communication and memory storage. Once human traits, communication and memory become characteristics of machines. As we lose these traits and the media gains these traits, we begin to rely heavily on machines to perform our basic human instincts. Humans can no longer create thoughts or ideas without the influence of technology because no thought is original and “the medium is the message”. Whether media shapes our thoughts and actions for the better or for the worse is debatable and an opinion that varies from person to person. This, in itself, is an example of how the medium influences our thinking. I think both McLuhan and Kittler create very viable points about technology, especially for their time period. As time progressed and media progressed with it, how humans are impacted by media and what parts of humanity media impacts has drastically increased. It is very easy to see nowadays how much media has helped expand the human race, as well as how much it has hindered us as human beings. Technology has helped connect humans around the world and allowed us to improve our lives and prosper. On the other hand, technology has weakened our communication skills and overall made us lazier because we don’t have to work as hard for certain things. Instead of walking from my room to my roommate’s room to ask her what her plans are, I can simply send her a text. There is no way to conclude whether the overall benefits of technology override the overall disadvantages, or vice versa. McLuhan and Kittler began the argument for this question long ago, though it is a question that cannot ever fully be answered because of the fact that the medium is the message.

    • Gianna, I think its great that you chose to talk about multiple readings because the articles we’ve read so far and the ideas conveyed in them are definitely building on each other. I would maybe even go as far to assume that these scholars all kind of borrowed and learned from each other and have collectively created this history of media. I think Kittler’s pessimistic view of technological determinism is kind of an extension of McLuhan’s amputation/extension ideal. Obviously since that was written there has been loads of technologies developed and now almost everybody uses some form of media all the time. So perhaps Kittler noted this theory and explored just how media-dependent our society has come. It’s an idea i struggle with because I definitely see the downsides to such a technologically heavy world (like privacy, and like you said laziness) but also so so so many benefits. It’s interesting to see how different generations, that have lives with varying familiarity with media, would feel about their claims that it is ruling human communication.

    • I love talking about this topic because it really brings to light how intertwined our lives are with technology. Your example with how you would just text your roommate instead of getting up and asking her is such a real thing in our society. The point that I think is interesting is the nature of that action; is it laziness or is it the fact that we are trying to be more efficient as a species that we would perform such an action? On the one hand, yes, it does seem pretty lazy to not just get up and walk to converse, but on the other, how much energy and time did you save by using the device? While technology (as viewed by Kittler) can appear to be making humans lazier, I definitely believe that the driving force behind most technologies has to do with human efficiency: freeing up our time from doing menial tasks such as walking from room to room to being able to instantly send a text. Initially, it seems lazy, but even if texting saves you a minute of time from having to get up to interact personally, in many senses it’s a minute of free time that wasn’t available before. This same idea can be found in the likes of spell-check incorporated in many programs. While many can view spell-check as a negative thing, bringing people’s ability to spell words down in the grand scheme of things, spell-check saves you the time of having to look up the words that you misspelled and essentially giving you time that you didn’t have before. It seems lazy to not look up the correct spelling online, just letting the program fill in the correct spelling, but by saving you those seconds of time to have to search, it ultimately does free up humans to spend more time doing more constructive things, even if it is just a few seconds.

    • I agree! Its amazing to think of how vast our “global village” truly is and how much money and technology is put into connecting each and every smart device. This ultra-connection does seem to be alive today, thus confirming McLuhan’s theory. With so many people with handheld, portable communication devices, we are able to contact another from halfway across the world! Well done.

  4. In his writing on the Gramophone, Film, and Typewriter, Kittler hits on a few different points about both the nature and future of media, jumping from topic to topic with relative ease in order to do so. Many of these ideas are influenced by those of McLuhan’s idea of “extension or amputation of the human body,” and “mediums being the content of other mediums”. However, his writing is not necessarily a meditation of this idea so much as a tower built upon McLuhan’s foundation. For example, near the beginning of the essay he talks about mediums comprising other mediums, narrowing down these base mediums to writing, film, and phonography – later narrowing this down further into the singular medium of writing. With this singular medium in mind, he expands upon the idea that there is no history without it. He writes, “history was the homogenized field that, as an academic subject, only took account of literate cultures.” This is an insane thing to think about. It brings to light that all we know about human history, truly, is through the medium of writing; all else is in some way or another lost. Coincidentally, writing is a necessary vessel for humans to use in the pursuit of knowledge and communication.
    Kittler takes us through a history of mediums, eventually bringing us to the inventions of the typewriter, phonograph, and film. These things, he says, begin to faze out the necessity of writing, but nonetheless hold the marks of the dead. I think this area of meditation is absolutely correct. Our memories are better stored in a tangible form than in the realm of our own recall, which is notoriously unreliable. Therefore, media allows us to undeniably have pieces of those before us, and of our own selves after memory runs short. However, Kittler talks about how these symbols override our memories, being the very reason they are weak in the first place. If he’s right, it would be interesting to see a world in which media does not overwhelm us, and how the mind would function there.
    In the same vein, would media then be, by both Kittler’s and McLuhan’s logic, an extension and an amputation of memory? The rise of electricity and the mediums associated with it put an end to the need for mental – and written – hallucination; optics, acoustics, and writing allow the fabrication of man, Kittler asserts. So if we simultaneously eliminate a necessity and manifest an image, we create an odd balance of power between our creations and ourselves.
    Kittler ends on the assumption that we are, loosely, losing the history of our being by replacing the medium of writing through digitization. In this way, McLuhan’s essay serves as both a preceding factor of Kittler’s essay, and a follow up into how we should proceed into the world Kittler speaks of. We should operate under the knowledge that these machines are an extension of ourselves, accepting media as a new guiding factor while being aware of its messages and using their influence to our advantage. I’m not sure if I fully agree with either of these theorist’s conclusions on their topics, however both are wonderful in bringing up questions that, even more so now than then, are fundamental to understanding media’s effect on us as beings.

    • Zora, I enjoyed how you focused on Kittler’s writing but drew from previous writings to help your point. I do agree with you that Kittler built of McLuhan’s idea rather than making his own ideals from the get go. I really enjoyed your point that so much of what we know of human history is through writing and without so much of our history would have been lost. Writing is the simplest means of getting your direct point across and trying to do that through other means your direct point could be lost in translation. I liked your thought process throughout.

  5. Dane LaFonte
    Response #1
    In Friedrich A. Kittler’s article, “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter,” he touched on the subject of written texts (especially before the official introduction of the world “media”) being an original source of memory. He states that, “writing, however, stored writing—no more and no less” (Kittler 7), showing that it is a very limited way for memory to be stored. He also claims that this storing of memory through writing also leaves out important aspects of past events, not engaging the senses of sound or sight. He brings up the biblical example of Yahweh’s creation of the ten commandments (as seen in Exodus: 20) and follows it by saying, “But of the thunder and lightning, of the thick cloud and the mighty trumpet which, according to scripture, surrounded this first act of writing on Mount Sinai, that same Bible could store nothing but mere words” (Kittler 7). Kittler’s main purpose of this passage seems to show the primitiveness of this early form of storing memory, which is ultimately problematic in the field of media archaeology which states that merit can be found in so-called dead media and how new media is a re-circulation of these past methods of communication.
    The main problem that is to be found with Kittler’s critique of books as media is the fact that he views them as a very limited and outdated source of memory. He compares recorded history in books to more modern interpretations of media by saying that, “the storage capacity of our computers will soon coincide with electronic warfare and, gigabyte upon gigabyte, exceed all the processing capacities of historians” (Kittler 8). He dwells on comparing these different forms of media, and how the book will become an obsolete method of storage instead of showing the merits of the written book and how valuable it was in its time. Mentioned above, as well, Kittler also dotes on the limitations of the written text as a means to store memory. Because the written text cannot store the information of sight and sound, like a gramophone or film can, it is already put in a backseat position to more modern invention instead. Instead of analyzing and appreciating the origins of stored data, he emphasizes the inferiority of the written media, as compared to more modern form of media. While he critiques written memory as a source of media, he fails to mention the limitations that modern media has over written media as well. Media, like a gramophone, also has the limitation of a visual representation (just like a written text), where a film has the potential to obscure the viewer from inside personal workings of the subject being filmed (where a written text has an easier time portraying this). Despite the fact that there may be ways to store more information than a written form of media, Kittler fails to appreciate the merit of written media and its contribution to newer forms of media, from a media archaeology standpoint. This is the main problem at hand when it comes to how Kittler views pre-modern forms of media and how they were vital components to the creation of stored memory.
    Word count: 522

    • I agree with your point of elevating the importance of understanding and analyzing previous event, specially when looking at “development”. There’s so much that can be argued about the importance of the written media and how it helped us with historical events. For example in music there so much we don’t know about early music because there’s no written or recorded media. That’s an example of how important was first the invention of a written format for music notation and its wide implementation but something we also have to account is the deficiencies of the physical printed formats. We can use the example of the Library of Alexandria and how much knowledge was lost with the fire that happened. That’s something the digital formats are as susceptible. Data storage is becoming more and more accessible and backup and reproduction also are becoming more accessible to a wider audience.

      • The thing is that all forms of media for storing and communicating information have pros and cons. When he was going on about the merits of audible means of storage, I thought about how inconvenient it would be in a situation of, say, some sort of trade system. Like if someone was receiving a mass shipment of some sort of product, and they wanted to quickly know all the details regarding it (or even a specific detail) it would just be so inconvenient to have to listen to a whole recording when they could easily look at a piece of paper that had all the key pieces of information right there.
        There are different limitations to all forms of media, and most are very dependent on specific situations. The truth is, though, that written communication is so so so powerful and important. Sure, it might not be as convenient sometimes as other systems, but that doesn’t in any way make it irrelevant or obsolete.

  6. In reading The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan, the point he makes by saying “the medium is the message” is interesting. In saying the medium is the message, I believe he is saying we trust or distrust people depending on how they say things to us. We also trust and distrust people given who they are as a person. We are more likely to believe a news anchor about what’s going on in the world, over a homeless person we see on the street. How the message is presented and how we are presenting ourselves, is how we are seen by the medium. This is a very interesting idea in our current world of technology. We have some of the most advance technology at our fingertips and instead of using it to check the medium and the message, we use it too look at cat videos.
    We as humans created technology to extend ourselves because we are so limited, but maybe we’ve extended too far. On the first page McLuhan says with everything becoming automatic we have little use for humans anymore and as a result we are losing jobs. On the other side of his argument he also says that media and technology working together has deepened our work and human association that previous technology got rid of. To McLuhan, it seems that technology is both an extension and an amputation to humans. While we have been able to extend ourselves both physically and mentally what does that mean for us as a whole? McLuhan says that no one piece of technology is superior than another piece of technology but it has made humans inferior and borderline obsolete. On page 11,“The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used that determines their value.” He uses this quote from General David Sarnoff to attempt to answer the question, can technology have more uses than just what we use it for or is technology’s purpose to make humans obsolete?
    In saying that technology is an extension and an amputation, this means that while it can make us do things that we couldn’t normally do, it also makes us incapable of things we used to be able to do. For example a smartphone allows us to see what is going on outside of city, or state, or even country. While it extends our minds and our knowledge, we also lose something very valuable. We lose our ability to distinguish real media from fake media especially in our current situation. We have so many uses for technology that are all reliant on how we use them to determine their value, but we use them for posting messages that don’t add anything constructive to the world, watching videos that suck away our time and constructive energy, and they seperate us from the people us.
    While McLuhan argues that technology both amputates and extends us as human beings, I would argue that in our current digital age, technology seems to amputate more than it extends. Maybe this is due to the way in which humans use technology and see the media. Because we are in a digital age, we are constantly surrounded and bombarded with media and instead of it extending our minds, it has amputated our ability to think. We believe everything we see online. We trust news anchors without looking at what they’re seeing. The more media, technology, and messages thrown at us, the more we just believe and no longer question. McLuhan is correct in saying that no technology is inherently better than another, but technology has become inherently better than people.

    • Julia, I loved your interpretation of what “the medium is the message” means. It is true that it isn’t how one says something, but his or her tone. I also appreciated your next point about how someone’s title and status gives them more credibility. Titles are so important in our generation. I also thought your point about “how we are presenting ourselves, is how we are seen by the medium” because impressions of others and they way we present ourselves are also key components in our daily lives. Your post was very relevant to today. For example, your example of the smartphone and how we use it to gather information was interesting because you noted how we are unable to distinguish fake news from real news. Your point about the way we use technology determines its value made me think about the various ways I use technology. For example, I could use the internet to research for school or to waste my time scrolling through irrelevant social media. Overall, your post was very interesting and relevant.

  7. In the context of media studies, media are channels through which communication occurs. In the eyes of Marshall McLuhan, everything can be media from more traditional means like television and media to more abstract channels like roads and railroads. McLuhan states that media is “any extension of ourselves.” With this in mind it can be argued that design is a medium. Although design is a very broad and generic concept, there are multiple reasons relating to communication to explain why people perceive good and bad design. People have a tendency to like certain objects depending on aesthetics, how they function, or how they make that person feel. In a more traditional sense, television is a medium; however, television is just another medium within the medium of the design of that particular television. The idea that “it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action” (McLuhan 9) can be applied to design because design has a major impact on how people interact with each other and their own psychology. For example, if someone has an expensive handbag, it is through the design that they are trying to communicate their economic and social status. Alternatively, someone could carry their belongings in a backpack in order to communicate their studious nature or how they view functionality over aesthetics. Not only is design a means of communicating how someone wants others to perceive them, but it also can dictates the actions of users. Similarly to how railroads “accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous functions,” (McLuhan 8) design has made it possible for people to interact in new and interesting ways. In addition to how railroads were able to connect people miles apart from each other, railroads are heavily designed. Designers had to think about where to have stops along the way, how to layout stations, and how people would interact with the cars themselves. The ideas that affected these decisions were largely due to the message that the designers wanted to convey. For example, they took into account where large populations of people were located and where they wanted to travel to the most. This idea alone illustrates the population of a country and where large cities are located. A more simple example of how design can be viewed as a medium can be depicted in two objects that serve the same purpose but are designed differently. For example, most chairs are created to be sit in; however, the design of different chairs can determine how people are viewed, their association with them, and how they interact with others. The chairs that one fills their space with are an extension of themselves because they can show personality and be a reflection of who chose them, all through design. Viewing design as a medium could be a departure from what McLuhan meant when he said that “medium is the message;” however, it is compelling to analyze what can be communicated through design and how additional media can be presented through design.

    • I personally love this point of view, as an artist and someone who hopes to find a career in design. A lot of this is so subtle, people don’t usually realize what designers are doing or why they’re doing it but they definitely notice the results. The chair example is great because it shows consumers doing this subconsciously; picking a chair they like and ultimately illustrating their own personality.

    • I think you’re totally right here. In a way, I think design is a perfect representation of McLuhan’s idea, doing everything it possibly can to convey a specific message. At its core a medium is just a channel through which we communicate, and what better way is there to communicate than by deliberately placing symbols we associate things with (like in the case of the backpack) in view? So maybe what you’re saying really isn’t a departure but an extention of definition.

  8. Friedrich Kittler’s Gramophone,Film, Typewriter argues that optical fiber is the ultimate medium from which all information could flow without been subject of disturbance ie. bit randomization. Analyzing it from the constraints of the time period and ignoring the volatility of technological advancements I agree with his points. He mentions on page 1 that medium as a concept could be erased if we achieve total media link. As I reflected on the statement I realized how important is interconnectivity; let me explain my point. When we look at the evolution of anything, whether human, technological, or anything else we usually analyze it in term of how did we get where we are now; or what was the process or processes that had to happen for that thing to evolve. As we have seen from the readings in class the computer was a person that computed things. As the process became mechanized more and more parts had to be integrated in the process and to make it work interconnectivity and and interrelation had solidify. Using the analogy of the modern computer and Alan’s Turing foundational work on a binary system or a segmented controlled movement we can see that thread line of evolution. Fundamentally the modern computer is no different than the one he created to decode Enigma.
    Another interesting thread Kittler explain is data stream. He opens the reading stating that fiber optics or optoelectrical has supremacy over the conventional way, electronic, to transmit data because of it immunity to electromagnetic disturbances. He uses the bomb as an example of how bit randomization can occur in such circumstances and how that leads to data loss or alteration. I agree with his idea of the fiber optic supremacy of data transmission but that medium has limitations also. For example, what happens when there is no possibility of a tethered connection to be established. Certainly wireless connectivity can be subject to data randomization with in the presence of EMP but how could we communicate to our satellites or astronauts if we choose to drop electromagnetic forms of communications?

  9. In Marshall Mcluhan’s, “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man,” he states that the messages are found in the medium in which they are perceived, but on the contrary, I believe the message to be perceived is determined by the audience to which it’s being shown.
    Mcluhan uses an example of a light to strip down his proposed theory stating a lightbulb is a medium without a message, since what is utilized is simply what is produced by the working lightbulb. The lightbulb has no other designated job than to create light, and what the light is used for is endless in accordance with our own needs. In my opinion, I think McLuhan is overthinking its purpose. Its purpose is illumination- and although it’s uses of that illumination differ, its purpose remains the same; to give light where there is little to none. The user gives the message meaning even though at times the message my escape our constant flowing stream of thought- we still process it at subconscious levels.
    In class, we discussed this topic, using the classroom as an example. We contemplated if we take notice lights that are turned on in a room- an everyday scenario that we execute. One would argue that because the event is so trivial, we take no notice of lights that are turned on, because we expect them to be on upon our arrival, furthermore some came to the conclusion that we’d only notice the lights if they were in fact, off. I’d like to think that despite our inability to stop and take time away from our tangent thoughts to break down each and every process we perceive, we still do it unknowingly or subconsciously. We are constantly breaking down and processing information to shape the world around us. We give meaning and actions to everything, our mind is just so complex we never notice it. For instance, as I’m writing this, I’m also formulating the thoughts in my head, while feeling a cold breeze brush my leg from an open window, a window that I know I opened several hours ago, and while my eyes drift away from the screen I see the deodorant I use, connecting the dots as to why I have it, and what it’s used for. Simultaneously processing the sore throat I have from a week long cough and the queasy feeling I have in my stomach which may be from the laptop resting on it (my own personal theory regarding laptops and whatever the emit from them). It’s only when I stop to really think do I realize how much we process.
    In regards to McLuhan’s proposed idea that messages are found in the medium, I retract my former stance and would say that he’s half correct in such a proposal. The medium can often give messages, but more often than not, the users find individual, unique messages that blossom upon being perceived. I’ll end touching on McLuhan’s reference to General Sarnoff stating, “We are too prone to make technological instruments the scapegoats for the sins of those that wield them. The products of modern science are not in themselves good or bad; it is the way they are used to determine their value.” I believe this quote exemplifies my half true theory. McLuhan believes this to prove the mediums which we define certain things give message where I believe that we should be smart enough to know and identify the potential of certain things. A gun isn’t bad- a person who misuses a gun is, but I think it’s arrogant to overlook possible misusage of such powerful technology.

    • I partially agree with your argument that the message that a media gives is dependent on the consumer of the media. It is true that without the consumer, the media would have no purpose, or practical use. I do, however, want to propose a different way to view the message of a media, that differs from both your point, and the article. One way that may be value to view the message is by the media being the response to the desires of the audience. It is true that the audience gives the medium meaning, but it also also true that the medium is the response to the needs and wants of the audience that it is developed for. I think that I can some up both your point and McLuhan’s by saying that the media and the consumer are co-dependent on each other, because without either party, no message could possibly be achieved. This is the best way that the media and the message can best be understood in my opinion.

  10. Kittler’s “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter” was definitely one of my favorite pieces so far. A lot of his attitude is in response to McLuhan and he is quite bitter. It definitely made the reading more interesting because Kittler tended to be more extreme and cynical.
    He tends to look more at the underlying source of things rather than things on the surface. He views previous media as inferior and negative and seems to spend much of his energy looking to the future. Having made his predictions in 86, he was actually spot on about how a lot of technology would begin in use for the military and transfer to the public. He even touches on the fact that algorithms may be created by other algorithms instead of humans, “to the point where people take leave of their senses.” I feel like this leads to the idea that eventually we will create an A.I. that will then take over/destroy us as a race.
    I definitely agree with “one mediums content is always other media”. The three basics, “writing, film, and photography” still act as the basis for our lives in media today. Everything is related to at least one of those components, usually more. Furthermore, people have begun to be influenced by film, rather than film being influenced by people like it used to be. Do we think film will ever return to how it used to be or will it continue down the road of influencing society.
    I also enjoyed the idea of “telegenic vs. radiogenic.” How you present your news completely changes it; not all media is suitable for all news. The statement “death is primarily a radio topic” is morbid and fascinating; people don’t want to see death but they love hearing about when things go wrong. Today especially it’s extremely easy to present news in an inappropriate or offensive way, regardless of whether it was intentional or not.
    One of the things that really stood out to me was the photo of a print shop in 1499 depicted as “a dance of death.” Even though print shops aren’t as popular nowadays, the media is still a dance of death. You have to be careful with the news you read, the news you present, and how you present it. Especially with the internet and social media, if you make a wrong move, you’ll get eaten alive.

    • Ah! I loved this. Yes, I agree that writing, film, and photography act as the basis for our lives in media today and that everything is related to at least one of those components. However, the irony behind the fascination with death, to create a sense of life through film or zphotoaphy, but waning to be detached enough to find entertainment in it, illustrates the danger and dissociation of medias. I think another way reading the “dance of death” depiction is that through a critical lens which looks at the photo (medium), depicted through words (print), the dance of death can be looked at as through we are all under scrutiny of others. I also read it as, a part of history, conveyed through mediums, the death is of the knowledge that this moment existed. Medias prolong life, and without the medias, would we have our history? Of others? The dance of death is between us and the medium. Will be look at it the way intended to? Will be pass on the information? Will the medium still be looked at in a viable way? What happens without mediums? Or, at least that was the pandemonium of this thought in my mind.

  11. So I was pondering McLuhan’s discussion around ‘Medium is the Message,’ and how “any invention is an extension or an amputation of some part of the human body.” And having read about it a number of times over the last few years, I would say that I mostly agree with his take on it. The way a message – or rather, information of most kinds in general – is delivered to any individual or group of people can have a great effect on how that information is received. And some of these mediums can have a much greater influence on our perception of the information than others. I mean even just think about how cool it would be for most people today to figure out how to send messages with some form of old-fashioned communication; like for a random example, if we were to use Morse Code for an afternoon. It’d be really exciting after we’ve become so used to our standard, computerized methods of reaching other people around the world.
    But I also started to think about it on a very base level with the simple comparison between how we would perceive the exact same message through a few different mediums. Such as, say, reading a physical book versus reading on a Kindle, and even further compared to reading on your phone or a computer. Most of the people our age have grown up (for the most part) with the internet being a very large part of our daily lives. We read things online all the time. I know that I’ve certainly read many books purely online. I’ve also read a lot of physical books. And the way that I perceived those stories – or, heck, even lessons for school – don’t really seem substantially different. At least not in a conscious way that I can actually look back at now and say “Yeah that was totally different.”
    Or, additionally, what about audio books? Sure, the way the narrator might read it could affect the way we perceive the story, but really does something like that have much of a radical difference on our experience with the story itself?
    We as humans have been telling stories for millennia, and in major ways that doesn’t seem to have changed very much. I mean physical books are just as valuable today as they were centuries ago. Perhaps our methods of producing printed books have evolved into something much more simple and cost effective than may have been the case originally, thus allowing word to become thoroughly mass produced, but that makes it no less relevant. Even with today’s technologies, we are still ultimately reading something to gain knowledge.
    Ok, to be perfectly honest, I finished writing this and now I’m not sure I really actually agree with a few points of this because I had some ideas that are easily exceptions to these points. But I think it really just boils down to the medium CAN be PART of the message, but it isn’t necessarily going to be a relevant nor substantial part.

    • Sophie,
      It’s super interesting that you feel like reading a book and hearing an audiobook give the same experience. For me, I feel as though they are very different experiences, but I can see your point that they give the same content. I do think that the general plot of the book can be understood in the same way auditorially or visually, but I think the experience of holding the book vs. listening on earbuds is very different.

  12. When reflecting on Friedrich Kittler’s “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter,” one must note how he begins his piece, including what he mentions in reference to fiber optic cables and how a connection can always be made towards warfare development. Kittler mentions that, “The Pentagon is engaged in farsighted planning: only the substitution of optical fibers for metal cables can accommodate the enormous rates and volumes of bits required, spent, and celebrated by electronic warfare.” (Kittler 1) The idea that much of technology can be used for a different purpose seems to be apparent in much of the technology that we use today.
    On the fourth page of this reading, Kittler mentions the medium of writing and how it is a big tool used for memory, including the documentation of history for the world. Kittler hints to the idea that if a piece of information was not written down, it is not a part of history and therefore didn’t happen. Kittler’s idea seems slightly outlandish, and could possibly be used for more abstract thought, however, it does not seem relevant and could be argued that there is a decent amount of verbal knowledge that has been passed down in cultures such as the aboriginals of Australia.
    Kittler seems to predict a seemingly eventual merge of all media into one universal composition. I find this certain idea interesting due to my recent readings from Lev Manovich regarding the numerical representation of media through data and having it become a universal medium that can be modulated and transcoded. Manovich definitely read into Kittlers earlier predictions, seeming to have a strong similarity. The idea that in the future, one could possibly experience all sensations and meaning through a universal medium-like language seems to be far fetched, but being in the age of technological innovation is seeming to begin this adaption through technology such as VR. It would seem probable that the eventual product of mediums could very much be a universal, sensational code; could this mean the eventual stop of human innovation? Kittler mentions that once everything is connected, there will be no “medium” due to the fact that all will flow through one universal media. I would agree with Kittlers notion due to the conclusion that once we as a species can access all information through one “ultra-connected” medium, there will only be that one medium that people will access, virtually making the word “medium” useless. In the future I do see this possible, and thus making the well known “brain in a vat” theory more and more relevant.
    Overall, Kittler’s notions seem relevant to what is currently happing today in the world of media, and can be seen as an accurate prediction of the future of mediums in general.

    • Kittler’s ideas on medium flowing through one media is an interesting topic. I agree that his ideas are true to what is currently happening in the 21st century during this technological innovation. Though I do not think that people will ever stop innovation and creating even if technology is capable of doing many things. It is a scary thought to think that history could be erased simply by getting rid of the textbooks that we know our history from. If it wasn’t recorded did it really happen? This motto is becoming more and more true as humans are able to record and document ever thing they do, from going to the grocery store to going to a protest.

  13. Modernism swept both culture and art, and we often leave out the notion that modernism also effected language and technology, two things Fredric Kittler analyses in the article, “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter.” He experiments with the power of language and its evolvement in new media technological advances. Kittler was interested primarily in the storage and communication portions of technology, where he focuses closely on the modern turns the gramophone, film, and typewriter made, in relation to the way we use language.
    I noticed how this shifts language out of the anthropomorphic ideal that we so often consider language constrained under.This drives me to question just how much control we as humans have over what we say and what we mean. Does the modernistic view on communication leave the power of language venerable to media and therefore, technology? In his article, Kittler says, “it is not that media mimics our unconscious but that our unconscious mimic media,” this challenges the anthropomorphic view on media, ideas, and language. Because media are the theoretical deduction of technological advancement, Kittler believes that human physiology was forever changed with specifics such as gramophone, film, and typewriter.
    Because I am so concerned with the antiquity and integrity of language, I find myself opposing Kittlers view on the idea that, “the content of the medium is always another medium,” because challenges the anthropocentrism through technology. Having said this, I find myself agreeing with much of the things Marchell McLuhan has to say about media, in his article, “The Medium is the Message.” It this he acknowledges screen essentialism, where he understands that interface is only the surface of what it means to call something a medium.
    He believes that is in the manner by which the information is being fed to it’s interpreter thats holds the meaning, instead of the messages itself. McLuhan says, “the medium is the message because it is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” In saying this, he favors anthropomorphic ideals when it comes to these medias because he believes “program and content analysis” run secondary to the actually medium. This point of view allows the person interpreting the media to become aware of the invention and progression of new medium because we understand it is that witch shifts out interpretation.
    If the effect of a novel is not related to its content, then we are able to analyze text outside of its meaning, and focus on the print and speech, what it truly is. McLuhan believes in the human interpretation of the technological, he believes inventions are as progressive as the human chooses. He defines technological inventions as “inventions or amputtaiotns of the human body,” idealizing anthropomorphic ideals, and allowing media to be in our control. Both Kittler and McLuhan made me rethink the way we interpret and communicate by reinventing the way we define media. However, I like McLuhan’s ideas in, “The Medium is the Message,” because it made me feel like I am in more control when I interpret the world around me.

  14. I’ve read McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message” passage a number of times now, but it was in this distinct run-through that I believe I finally understand what he is trying to convey. The idea that it is not purely what a medium conveys that matters, but rather the medium itself that says the most is the principal theory behind the reading, and when written like that, makes plain enough sense. But when applied to specific technologies, I found it hard to grasp its true meaning.
    The point at which I would begin to get frustrated with this entire idea is the fact that I assumed the fact of the medium being the entirety of the message that gets sent. How could what was purposefully written not be the message? I would always assume what McLuhan was trying to say was that the content of the message, in this case, the email, didn’t matter at all. This notion was misplaced: McLuhan’s bold statement is purely meant to bring attention to the fact that the content itself is always another medium. “This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the ‘content’ of any medium is always another medium” (McLuhan 1). McLuhan states this just before presenting that “the content of writing is speech” and “written word is the content of print” (McLuhan 1.) It is the makeup of the medium that matters. Each individual medium is composed of some other medium, plain and simple.
    Take an email for example; it is the sending of a thought-based message to another person through the use of the internet. Thinking about it pretty simply, it would appear that the specifically chosen words typed and sent to the recipient is entirely the message. But thinking about it more critically, the medium that is “email” conveys such an incredible amount of information. The act of writing an electronic letter, choosing the correct formal speech native to etiquette of the medium, sending it to a recipient by means of the transfer of information across the internet, says so much more than a simple textual thought could ever display. It fully provides that we as a species have evolved to a point where we no longer need to physically deliver textual messages, but rather we have so far advanced as to where anyone at any time can reach out and connect with any other singular or group of humans electronically and instantly. This advancement of technology and communication says infinitely more about humanity and its current place in history than what was actually written could convey.
    In retrospect, I was thinking too literally about the message itself. I only cared about the thought that was trying to be displayed, rather than the makeup of what composed the message. McLuhan’s true purpose is to bring to light the fact that all media is composed of other media. Regardless of the purpose behind the thoughts encapsulated by the message, the content of every medium is another medium, and thus, the medium is the message.

    • Great Post! However, I would be cautious of putting different types of media in a hierarchy. Emails aren’t necessarily better than written word, and McLuhan was careful to avoid creating a “progress narrative” that favors certain types of media. He wants to avoid placing value statements on media, rather examine the specific aspects of humanity that they help augment. An email is a great example because it travels so fast, but one has to wonder what’s lost in such a fast form of communication, versus something like a letter. Email is also primarily used professionally, so one could argue that email’s message is one of efficiency and professionalism–existing as a result of working in environments that are so overwhelmingly large (like a corporation or university) that the only way to communicate effectively is through impersonal and fast lines of communication. Media are produced with a specific purpose in mind and often have unintended messages that exist as a result of how the medium functions, despite its content. He gives Print media as an example, claiming that it’s responsible for the rise of individualism and nationalism in the 16th century (McLuhan 20). I wonder what belief systems something like email is creating?

  15. While reading Gramaphone, Film, Typewriter by Friedrich A. Kittler, my mind could only wonder but the future possibilities he implored in his assertion throughout the piece and how his concept of numerical representations could be expanded upon. He states it clearly in the end stating “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.” A large part of this concept for him is that computers are composed entirely of bits. These bits represented in binary as a 0 or 1, all boil down to a numerical representation of what the medium used to be. “Inside the computers themselves everything becomes a number: quantity without image, sound or voice.” Kittler follows this by comparing our basis of the human language a system based upon 26 letter system or music based upon a 7 letter organization of sounds. Everything regarding media is represented through these subcategories or representations of what they were before. This idea from Kittler for me brought up a greater idea that everything outside of media could also be represented by numerical representations of what they are. As an engineering student, I am programmed to understand the numerical reasoning behind the physical environment around us especially in regards to computers as Kittler pointed out. Not only does our media and connection to technology as a universal media for our daily lives revolve around this concept of binary and numerical representations of what they used to be, but so does our physical surroundings. This concept solidified his claim that “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.”
    This concept of our lives being intertwined with numerical representations made me also think about the possibility of the future for technology. Kittler uses the concept of the human language again and the evolutionary change the human language had throughout it’s time. He also states that how human history started with writing it will end in fiber optics and bits. This concept brought me to think of where we are today in regards to his idea of the future written from 1986 and just as fiber optics and bits seemed as the final destination in comparison to the writing, where could the end be now that we have reached this point in the future. During this idea he states “more simply, but no less technically than tomorrows fiber optic cables, writing functioned as a universal medium.” This concept of “tomorrows” fiber optic cables being the medium of the future in comparison to writing is brought up multiple times. This comparison between the binary and technological progresses with writing also had me ponder the difference they have between them as well. This quote “literature is a fragments or fragments; only the smallest proportion of what took place and what was said was written down, while only the smallest proportion of what was written down has survived” highlighted the main difference between the two. While writing historically was limited, today the internet contains so much data “gigabyte upon gigabyte exceed all processing capacities of humanity.”

  16. So that first one accidentally submitted before I had edited it. Here my real one:

    While reading Gramophone, Film, Typewriter by Friedrich A. Kittler, my mind could only wonder but the future possibilities he implored in his assertion throughout the piece and how his concept of numerical representations could be expanded upon. He states it clearly, in the end, stating “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.” A large part of this concept for him is that computers are composed entirely of bits. These bits represented in binary as a 0 or 1, all boil down to a numerical representation of what the medium used to be. “Inside the computers themselves, everything becomes a number: quantity without image, sound or voice.” Kittler follows this by comparing our basis of the human language a system based upon 26 letter system or music based upon a 7 letter organization of sounds. Everything regarding media is represented through these subcategories or representations of what they were before. This idea from Kittler for me brought up a greater idea that everything outside of media could also be represented by numerical representations of what they are. As an engineering student, I am programmed to understand the numerical reasoning behind the physical environment around us especially in regards to computers as Kittler pointed out. Not only does our media and connection to technology as a universal media for our daily lives revolve around this concept of binary and numerical representations of what they used to be, but so does our physical surroundings. This concept solidified his claim that “numbers and figures become the key to all creatures.”
    This concept of our lives being intertwined with numerical representations made me also think about the possibility of the future for technology. Kittler uses the concept of the human language again and the evolutionary change the human language had throughout its time. He also states that how human history started with writing it will end in fiber optics and bits. This concept brought me to think of where we are today in regards to his idea of the future written from 1986 and just as fiber optics and bits seemed as the final destination in comparison to the writing, where could the end be now that we have reached this point in the future. During this idea, he states “more simply, but no less technically than tomorrow’s fiber optic cables, writing functioned as a universal medium.” This concept of “tomorrows” fiber optic cables being the medium of the future in comparison to writing is brought up multiple times. This comparison between the binary and technological progress with writing also had me ponder the difference they have between them as well. This quote “literature is a fragments or fragments; only the smallest proportion of what took place and what was said was written down, while only the smallest proportion of what was written down has survived” highlighted the main difference between the two. While writing historically was limited, today the internet contains so much data “gigabyte upon gigabyte exceeds all processing capacities of humanity.”
    This reading left me wondering in a fantastic way of the future of technology, the past of humanity and what media represents for society as a whole.

    • This reply was well put, your comparison to Kittler’s statement as well as your own experience as an engineering student helps emphasize Kittler’s ideas. The concept that binary is on a pathway that interprets everything around us is an exciting yet frightening thought. I was left slightly confused in regards to your statement, ” Not only does our media and connection to technology as a universal media for our daily lives revolve around this concept of binary and numerical representations of what they used to be, but so does our physical surroundings.” My confusion mainly lies with the last part of our physical surroundings. Overall, thank you for this, I read a couple others before choosing this one, I agree with your stance, mainly because it was put in a way that was easy to follow, and with readings like this, that can be difficult sometimes.

      • Andrew thank you for your comment. In regards to your confusion, I think the statement got lost a little bit. What I was saying is that in today’s society much of our media is through technology and thus according to Kittler we revolve around this binary representation of media. We also have our physical surroundings able to be represented in a numerical way, as I stated above in the paragraph. I hope that clears it up a little bit (pun intended).

  17. I think the first article we read was a great starting off point for this semester’s look at technology and its purposes and influences. The deconstruction of media by Marshall McLuhan in his paper “The Medium is the Message” also touched on a lot of concepts that have recently caught my fascination. As a journalism major I’ve been learning a lot about multimedia and how different tools will tell a story in different ways, and this is the premise of what McLuhan is talking about. He argues that essentially the platform on which you release content is almost (if not more) important than the actual content itself, because of how it will be delivered and interpreted by others. Each mode of media contains its own set of factors or pros and cons for why it should be chosen to convey certain ideas. In our current world there is an oversaturation of media and so this dated article has even more relevance than when he wrote it, pre iPhones with apps and cloud storage systems and video chats and highly technical tools that technological advancements have afforded us. He touches on how each new invention creates a sort of chaos in the communication world as people expand their messages with different ways of portraying what they are trying to get across: “”… the personal and social consequences of any medium — that is, of any extension of ourselves — result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” He points to the printing press, TV, internet, and how all these entailed a mini revolution when introduced to society as people learn to use them as extensions or amputations of themselves, making things easier or simpler for the most part but also at the same time convoluting and complicating the media sphere. This idea is relative to something ive learned in other classes, the idea of technological determinism, where people allow technologies to influence what they do, and furthermore, their messages. What McLuhan is saying is that the way we deliver information is just as valuable contextually as the inherent information itself. For example, an article about a famous photographer’s work could do justice to their job/life/accomplishments, but are words the best choice for this message? Obviously, a photo story with pictures of their work or possibly even a video of soundbites of the photographer talking over a slideshow of their images would be much more effective. These conscious decisions we make in which medium to use greatly influence the meaning of the subject and therefore it’s very important to be medium aware and media literate.
    He says it’s important to be aware of changes in the technological sphere so you can make the best choice possible of medium.

  18. McLuhan and Kittler examine media through a more philosophical lens, describing the effect of technology as complicated philosophies which infer as much as they describe. Personally, I find this writing difficult to wrap my head around. I prefer structured, systematic technical literature as because I can sufficiently understand the surface meaning as the only meaning.
    Although the two have contradictory perspectives on the benefits/consequences of media for humanity, they use the anatomy of the individual to explain these perspectives. These philosophies in the context of individual anatomy are easier imagine and comprehend the future affect on humanity as a whole from. McLuhan describes technology as both an amputation and an extension of man. Kittler describes media as controlling our central nervous system, replacing imagination and original thought. I really love this quote because it reminds me of the parasitic fungus Ophiocordyceps unilateralis which infects certain ant species. The fungus changes the ants behavioral pattern, forcing it to leave its colony behind in order to ensure the spread of the fungi. Once the ant finds a suitable leaf it attaches itself to the underside. The ant continues to live as the fungus fruits, projecting a spores to infect more ants below. Media infects our minds, distracting us from our moral or human priorities (like face to face social interactions), using us to force the spread of more forms of media which will further distract (control the minds) other individuals. Maybe this comparison would be more complete if actual antennas sprung out of our skulls as media finishes taking over minds.
    I digress; using the human body (and its anatomy) allows the reader a deeper understanding of their content. Individuals have this anatomy and most understand the effect on a person technology has when described as a prosthetic limb or suppressed nervous system. Understanding Media on an individual level allows for a better understanding of how media affects the colony as a whole.

    Kittler also discusses how our senses have changed with new technologies since the invention of the printing press. As media has changed from spoken to written to typed forms, the words, phrases, and rhetoric itself has also changed. Before the printing press, oration was the main medium of human communication. Most people didn’t know how to write so rhymes and rhythm were used to remember this medium which spread and taught morals. With the invention of the printing press, this poetry like speech was left behind as it was no longer necessary. We traded beautiful shakespearean language, ripe with jokes, inferences, and imagery, for more clearer content for more people. As well we gained a more complete and accessible record of human history and means of education from the printing press. With the invention of typewriters, followed by thecomputers and networks, individuals have the ability to quickly express their own personality and realize greater autonomy in our digital world. We have traded some of our culture for this ability but I think that’s ok. For example, the art of calligraphy is a medium less practiced and appreciated. Luckily we have records of these forms of ‘ancient’ media which can be accessed from anywhere with a computing device and network access.

    Just as media is more impactful when shared among a larger audience and fungi is more devastating to ants when projected into a colony, these concepts mean more when discussed with others. The medium of classroom discussion/online forums is the massage!

  19. When I left our first class this semester I wondered to myself, “wait… why is this a requirement for my English major? How can learning about computers add to my understanding of the human experience?” I shrugged it off as I pulled out my iPhone, plugged in my headphones and picked a podcast or song, I can’t remember what mood I was in, and walked to my next class on Georgian Literature. It’s funny to be so immersed in a culture of “technology” and not have a basic understanding of its origin. After subsequent readings, lectures, discussions and our visit to the media archaeology is when I could comprehend the immense role technology as a medium plays in mine and everyone else in my community’s life. I read the articles like Shakespearean literature, having to look up translations or in these cases, definitions. I want to preface this post by emphasizing I might misinterpret a lot of this from purely reading too far into my connotation with the word choice.
    The strategy we used in class – picking out individual quotes to unpack and analyze – was the most efficient way for me to digest the essay. In the introduction Kittler talks about “optical fiber networks” and their role of distributing/dispersing data so it can be used and spread across geographical distances and throughout different literal medias and mediums. “The general digitization of channels and information erases the differences among individual media. Sound and image, voice and text are reduced to surface effects, known to consumers as interface.” This passage highlights something I myself worry about with media, social media. My own understanding of social media to be heard, we value our own thoughts more by the recognition or reinforcement they receive then the content of their basis. This echoes Kittler’s idea of the disappearance of the individual. When someone affirms your thought by their own appreciation, does that not become a value of their own – a collective thought? This idea could be seen as confirmed in my reading of this quote. The digital media, the issues and concepts taken and swept up by these digital channels lose their original author, the individual perspective. Similar to when an author publishes a book, article, essay, etc. Once they relinquish their own authority and control of it onto the public they no longer have any hold or sway on its outcome or destination.
    But, in my opinion, the saddest thing that this kind of technology provides is our understanding of statistics. For scientific purposes we could say we are all repeating similar patterns that can all be accounted for as repertory in an endless loop of knowledge. To reference and paraphrase John Locke all we have are set of facts that we keep rearranging and rediscovering about ourselves. Technology can even pinpoint our weaknesses in understanding one another as a whole, as one human race. “Within the spectrum of general data flow, television, radio, cinema, and the postal service constitute individual and limited windows for people’s sense perceptions.”

    • I think you make a really good point in how digital media discredits the original author and therefore individual perspective is lost. I also agree with you in how most people value recognition over the actual content of what is being put out onto the Internet. What I find the most sad is that the people trying to get factual information out to the public through media often still have their messages skewed simply because the media and the individual have different priorities. Where the individual may want to get a specific message across, the media will contort the message in a way that reaps the most benefits for their company. This then makes all media, even the most reliable sources, unable to be fully trusted by the general public.

  20. Present day culture has been eclipsed by mass media, saturating our everyday lives as a ubiquitous lens through which we make sense of our world and surroundings. It is increasingly important to stay critical of the platforms through which we’re communicating, keeping in mind McLuhan’s mantra “the medium is the message.”
    McLuhan defines the “message” of medium to be the extent to which it “changes the scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs,” suggesting that it’s not necessarily what the medium is in itself communicating but what the technology allows us to accomplish (McLuhan 8). He gives the example of the electric light as a “medium without a message,” but what he really means is that the message isn’t implicit in the medium. Electricity is taken for granted in the present day, existing as an atmospheric backdrop to our lives. However, electricity has created an environment that allows us to break away from simply relying on the sun for light, from office buildings to bars to hospital rooms.
    Every medium also has content, which is the more literal form of a message. Consider a sign that says “STOP” the medium would be the sign, but the content would be the letters that make up the word STOP. It’s the focus on “content” that distracts us from the broader implications of the medium—in this example a sign. A stop sign carries with it a belief system of an intricate set of laws and order that dictate the way we use roads. Focusing on it as a stop sign distracts from the fact that the stop sign is a culturally produced and agreed upon medium carrying the weight of a state’s authority almost seamlessly.
    We spoke in class about the implications this has as English Majors (but could probably be applied to most other majors as well). English majors are notorious for reading too far into things, buuut when we’re in class focusing on the “content” of a book, as we often do with closed reading, it distracts from the fact that books are produced in a wider cultural context. Instead of engaging in conversations about why the Literary Canon is primarily composed of white, straight, men we’re talking about the narratives that they’ve produced. Which also distracts from the university system as a whole which has for a long time been a structure that has actively participated in discriminating against marginalized identities through the admissions process—and perhaps contributes to why the literary canon exist as it does.
    In short focusing on the content of a medium, distracts from the systems of power that have produced a culturally legible medium in the first place. The medium itself exist in a complex society that has particular interests in how and what information is disseminated. Growing “public” platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, twitter are media that promise individualism, personal expression, and fun, but focusing on one’s own “content” in those spaces distracts from the fact that they’re corporations that profit off catering advertisement to the users.
    None of this is meant to say that these mediums are inherently malicious, but it hopefully calls attention to the larger social structures that are obfuscated when we focus on just the “content” of a medium.

  21. Friedrich A. Kittler’s makes many noteworthy points in “Gramophone, Film, Typewriter” as he takes the reader through a history of different mediums and the inventions soon to follow. When discussing new technologies such as film and the phonograph, Kittler emphasizes caution when comparing them to the typewriter. This caution is based around the observation that between the typewriter and the new technologies “a clear division occurs between matter and information, the real and the symbolic”. Although the statement Kittler makes is legitimate, I can’t entirely agree with his argument, which states complete “differentiation” between the two.
    Take film for example. When looking at how information is translated through film and comparing it to the information translated through a typewriter, Kittler is correct in that the information is representative of what is real versus a product of ones own interpretation and imagination. However this “differentiation” Kittler continuously points out is based around the product, what we get from each, and ignores the actual structure of how we get it. The typewriter, as he explains, is simply a machine that puts individual letters onto a paper to formulate a code, producing a message of some sort, which then can be interpreted. In its’ most basic form, film does this as well. Film is the formulation of many pictures taken milliseconds apart that are then put together in a particular way in order to produce and portray a specific moment. Just like how a single letter on a page would fail to translate an entire message, or a change in how the letters are organized would create a totally different meaning, film is only successful in portraying its’ information if it’s many pictures are formulated in the correct way. For example, if we were to dissect a film where a girl walks down her driveway to get her mail, and take out a singular picture to analyze, we would find that more often then not it’s hard to correctly predict what she is doing. When standing alone, each individual picture is up for interpretation and can lead someone’s imagination to a completely different story. If we make it so that the pictures are out of order, the story itself is ruined and doesn’t represent its’ original message at all. If each picture in a story is representative of a letter of a message written by a typewriter, then it is easy to see that just like the typewriter, the configuration of pictures is a lot like a code, if it isn’t properly put together, then the message will be skewed and up for interpretation.

  22. In Friedrich Kittler’s Gramaphone, Film Typewriter, he says, “It is the same with language, which only leaves us the choice of either retaining words while losing their meaning or, visa versa, retaining meaning while losing the words” (10). In class, we talked about how this refers to the way that writing is just words, and if taken at face value, they only have one meaning, showing that by “retaining the words” we lose the way they can mean so many things. Like in poetry and using suggestive language. We also talked about how by losing the words, we get music or art which as the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words”, we get so many meanings. For example, by saying the word tree, it just means tree. However by painting a tree, it can mean mother nature, life, and so much more, and of course, it can also just mean tree. But in this sense we get so many more meanings, thus by losing the words, we get the meaning. Medium is the message.
    And as many people pointed out before me, memories are also a part of the medium. Because “time determines the limit of all art” the brain can only preserve history for so long before it begins to forget. That’s why art and writing are so helpful to preserve these meanings and memories. He talks about dead people still alive because their memory is preserved in photographs and written things. I can’t imagine how people could remember the stories of their family before them and how messed up the stories must have gotten. However, some are much more fun because of it.
    Have ever played the game banana phone or pineapple where you sit in a circle and whisper something into your neighbor’s ear and then they whisper it into their neighbor’s ear until it gets all the way around the circle and then the last person says it out loud? Well if you haven’t, the message gets super messed up by the time it gets to the end. That’s how I feel memories and stories of people became, and It makes me wonder how many stories we know now about people from a long time ago, how messed up those stories have become. With the technology we have now, everyone tweeting, facebooking, instagraming, we have a stored memory, on the Internet, forever. Now it’s hard to “banana phone” someone’s life. Unless they lie about their life on social media…
    Overall, Nowadays people take so many photos that they don’t ingrain things to remember, they just take a photo or tweet about it and forget about it until it comes up in their “on this day” on facebook. But in a way it is also a possitive because now we have a media file showing what happened on that day, a proof of history in this person’s life.
    Media in this sense is a positive and a negative. Media is the message.

    • From an individuals perspective, a change in family story could be significant. Ones family history is a part of their identity. But from in a more removed perspective, does a shift in a single recollection of history change anything? In the grand scheme of things, a text message that is interpreted differently than intended or a book title that misspells message has very little consequence to humanity or culture. Does the message I type to my mom matter as much as my ability to communicate to the rest of the world? The content of the message seems insignificant when compared to the sum of technological advancements that lead up to it. So I agree, if set aside the words themselves and look just the Medium which delivered them, we have a much significant story to marvel at.

  23. In Kittler’s writing on the Gramophone, Film, and Typewriter, he discusses many different topics on the power of media and technology. He begins his writing with what seems to be talking about a conspiracy of the Pentagon and the power that optical fiber networks would be giving off. Kittler’s sees technology as a product that is taking over history. From stories passed on by generations to writing, then recordings, film and typewriters, and now computers. He acknowledged the good that comes from technology but saw the harm that it was doing to humans their natural abilities. Kittler felt that history started with writing and has evolved through technology. He saw the importance in writing and how it functioned as a universal medium allowing people to create and give information. Kitler stated “what will soon end in the monopoly of bits and fiber optics began with the monopoly of writing”. From this I believe he is saying that what started with writing was taken over by technology and what is coming next in the future will be the end to the most recent technology. What we know as history is only from stories and videos that have been recorded and placed in libraries. Kittler’s theory about mediums all consisting of numbers and how “with numbers, everything goes” saying that all mediums are the same. The replacement of one medium is always happening because each medium is similar and allows for expansion of the medium. With each development in technology he noted what it did to humans and history. With the typewriter he noted how it had a symbolic effect. He felt that the technology was not only an extension to humans but it was taking over humans. “Machines take over functions of the central nervous system, and no longer, as in times past, merely those of muscle”. He felt that the world of the symbolic was the world of the machine. The typewriter was an amazing and helpful addition to the human race but it took a little bit away from humans. Kitler felt that handwriting is a representation of someone, and it has the ability to really expose a person. Before technology a letter was the closest object anyone had to a photograph, through someone’s writing you could remember and visualize so much about that person. Typewriters took away pieces of an individual because it got rid of what makes someone unique, it took what makes a letter so personal out of a letter by making it so mechanic. “Typewriters do not store individuals”, when talking about the Gramophone Kitler noted how this appeals to the real, it functions as an analog representation of the voice, and maintains the voice of the dead. Through the ability to hear one’s voice it made it so that the dead would always be around to haunt us. “Once memories and dreams, the dead and ghosts, become technically reproducible, readers and writers no longer need the powers of hallucinations.” He felt as technology becomes more and more advanced humans will no longer need the power or ability to dream what he calls hallucinate because we will not have to work so hard to remember. It will be easy to access something like a video of the loved one we have lost, meaning they will always be around even after death. Lately as he talks about film he relates this to imagination. Film captures what we wish we could be, it set a high and unrealistic standard of something humans might wish they had. “We shape our minds around technology, it is not that the film mimics our unconscious, but that our unconscious mimics film”. With every movie or show watched we set new standards for ourselves and create new idea that we feel is best for an ourselves. Towards the end of the article Kittler mentions Turring’s machine and how he feels that no computer will ever be better than his, a computer might become faster but at the end of the day Turring’s machine is capable of everything a machine needs.

  24. Present day culture has been eclipsed by mass media, saturating our everyday lives as a ubiquitous lens through which we make sense of our world and surroundings. It is increasingly important to stay critical of the platforms through which we’re communicating, keeping in mind McLuhan’s mantra “the medium is the message.”
    McLuhan defines the “message” of medium to be the extent to which it “changes the scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs,” suggesting that it’s not necessarily what the medium is in itself communicating but what the technology allows us to accomplish (McLuhan 8). He gives the example of the electric light as a “medium without a message,” but what he really means is that the message isn’t implicit in the medium. Electricity is taken for granted in the present day, existing as an atmospheric backdrop to our lives. However, electricity has created an environment that allows us to break away from simply relying on the sun for light, from office buildings to bars to hospital rooms.
    Every medium also has content, which is the more literal form of a message. Consider a sign that says “STOP” the medium would be the sign, but the content would be the letters that make up the word STOP. It’s the focus on “content” that distracts us from the broader implications of the medium—in this example a sign. A stop sign carries with it a belief system of an intricate set of laws and order that dictate the way we use roads. Focusing on it as a stop sign distracts from the fact that the stop sign is a culturally produced and agreed upon medium carrying the weight of a state’s authority almost seamlessly.
    We spoke in class about the implications this has as English Majors (but could probably be applied to most other majors as well). English majors are notorious for reading too far into things, buuut when we’re in class focusing on the “content” of a book, as we often do with closed reading, it distracts from the fact that books are produced in a wider cultural context. Instead of engaging in conversations about why the Literary Canon is primarily composed of white, straight, men we’re talking about the narratives that they’ve produced. Which also distracts from the university system as a whole which has for a long time been a structure that has actively participated in discriminating against marginalized identities through the admissions process—and perhaps contributes to why the literary canon exist as it does.
    In short focusing on the content of a medium, distracts from the systems of power that have produced a culturally legible medium in the first place. The medium itself exist in a complex society that has particular interests in how and what information is disseminated. Growing “public” platforms like Facebook, Tumblr, twitter are media that promise individualism, personal expression, and fun, but focusing on one’s own “content” in those spaces distracts from the fact that they’re corporations that profit off catering advertisement to the users.
    None of this is meant to say that these mediums are malicious, but it hopefully calls attention to the larger social structures that are obfuscated when we focus on just the “content” of a medium

    • “Focusing on it as a stop sign distracts from the fact that the stop sign is a culturally produced and agreed upon medium carrying the weight of a state’s authority almost seamlessly.” I found this portion of your response very compelling. The idea that these fundamental things are culturally produced. We as a culture give the message to the medium. Without our culture giving the meaning to a stop sign, they truly mean nothing.

  25. It couldn’t be a better time to re-read “The Medium is the Message” by Marshall McLuhan. With the shock of Trump’s presidency (and fresh legislation) still fresh in our minds, I’ve been wrestling with McLuhan for the past two weeks. If the medium is the message, and social media propelled a bigot to our highest office, what does that mean about inherent messages in our modern technology? I apologize for the late post, I wanted to make sure what I said was articulate and interesting (perhaps rather than on-time). I hope you’ll forgive me and the content of this post will be worth the wait.
    “This American Life” aired an episode January 20th concerning Mr. Trump’s inauguration as President of the United States. In act one, “Meme Come True.,” Zoe Chance covers an event called the DeploraBall which took place Thursday the 19th. This event was a celebration attended by internet trolls, alt-right figureheads, and Trump supporters from around the country. Ira Glass begins the segment with a quote from Jay Boon and Connor O’Hagar. They stated, “We did it. We memed him into the presidency. We memed him into power. We shitposted our way into the future, because we directed the culture.” It goes without saying that the internet had a huge affect on politics this election season. Coverage from The New York Times breaks on their website minutes after events occur, far faster than tomorrow’s paper. Facebook timelines we’re crammed with political posts, outspoken opinions, and vehement debates from both sides. However, faster than The New York Times, faster than Facebook, faster than anything, is Twitter. Twitter is the social media platform built on speed. It prompts lightning-fast response times, limited characters, and hashtags and @-replies ensuring that debate takes place in a public, easily-accessible forum without moderation.
    For pro-Trump memers, Twitter was their haven. They posted memes, retweeted hate speech, and used hashtags to quickly link-up with other supporters. Twitter (along with 4chan, reddit, and blogs) is the home for controversial opinions from the far-right. It was their tool with which they won the presidency. Twitter is also a medium. It’s a unique user experience which must use user-generated content to stay relevant. What is Twitter without Tweets? If the medium is the message, how should we view Twitter?
    In “The Medium is the Message,” McLuhan takes up arms against General David Sarnoff. Sarnoff famously said, “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 clearly disagrees. He states, “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.” McLuhan argues that in any medium, the attributes of the medium inherently contain the message afforded through the medium. The creators of any medium are in-some-way responsible for the message because they constructed the fundamental aspects of the medium. What does that mean for Twitter?
    On January 28th, Twitter posted through their official @Twitter account, “Twitter is built by immigrants of all religions. We stand for and with them, always” in light of Trump’s Muslim ban. I have to ask the question: if Twitter really stood for immigrants why would they construct a medium which directly supports enemies of immigrants and helped elect a President fundamentally against immigration concerns? I don’t know their response. They might agree with Sarnoff, claiming that their platform is not “good” or “bad,” but a place for public discourse. I have a feeling that McLuhan wouldn’t let them off so easily.
    The medium of Twitter facilitates the message of hate speech, plain and simple. Does that mean that responsibility for this speech is somehow tied to Twitter’s creators? I’ll wait for your reply in the comments.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s