Saturday, February 17, 2001

Current Forum: Discussion of Readings
Date: 09-Feb-2001 13:18:00
Author: Hixson, William
Subject: Meyrowitz

William brings up excellent points. I too was intrigued by Meyrowitz’s and found it lacking in some aspects that enticed me to read further.

In response to your questions of Medium Theory’s “shortcomings,” in terms of the difficulties of its analysis, from a research perspective, evidence or findings of the micro and macro social levels require extensive forms of qualitative methods simply because it is fairly difficult to “predict” or document affect and cultural behaviors if they can be documented at all. In support of Meyrowitz, he states that medium theory cannot be supported or “tested” by a quantitative analysis, but the macro level does rely on, “argument, historical analysis, and large-scale pattern association” (p.11).

I would add that in trying to document or analyze how introduction of a new medium into an existing matrix changes or shapes a new social environment, we must be cognizant of the fact that we are unwitting actors in a historical change. As structures change, we are not necessarily consciousness of these changes on a diurnal basis. In particular, when new mediums become operationalized into our daily lives, it’s difficult to compare these changes to our former activities. Robbie mentioned that we also need to look at other facets, such as: policy, actions and lived intentions vs. thought intentions, sustained spontaneous effective actions, and intuitive perception. All of these are important factors addressed by medium theory, but pose serious research limitations.

In looking at the micro-level, a comparison analysis might provide some of the “situational” changes in the roles of the classroom, students, and teachers in the various modes. But context and content limit comparability because it is associated with an individual-situation as opposed to general patterns at the macro-level.

Aside from the weaknesses, what I find to be a strength is the fact that it allows us to extend beyond the content. Although content influences social roles and communication, medium theory allows us to include patterns of access and information-flow that tend to be overshadowed by content analysis.


Current Forum: Discussion of Readings
Date: 07-Feb-2001 09:22:00
Author: McClintock, Robert
Subject: Re: McLuhan, Understanding Media

>“Discounting the similarities in various responses to the newness of TV and the Internet, are TV and the >Internet -- understood as complex social, economic, and cultural developments -- similar in their >educational effects or dissimilar? Does the Internet reinforce the effects of TV, or lead educational >development in different directions?” – Robbie

While the complex interactions of the social, political, and economic arenas are difficult to segregate, from a more holistic cultural perspective I can conceive the Internet having two plausibly divergent effects:
1) it can reinforce the consumerism and “McDonaldization” of TV
2) it can foster new modes of communication and nonlinear thinking

From an educational perspective, many parents and teachers are wary of the use of a portal with advertisement capacity for the first reason. This has inundated policy makers with concerns over children privacy protection acts and Internet acceptable use policies for minors. However, some argue that the Internet is not employing messages that students have not already acculturated into their diurnal social, economic, and cultural spectra.

In looking at the second notion, use of the Internet can extend education into the home through its use for research and asynchronous and synchronous communication. Again, from an educational vista, a particular concern is that potentially, use of the Internet will reinforce the fast paced and instantaneous nature of television such that immediate feedback and instantaneity will be a requisite for all educational activities. This is not to say that it’s a negative aspect, but this will affect how content is developed and determine what content is considered educationally stimulating and enticing by students as opposed to the teacher. It further alters roles as teachers become facilitators and sifters of educationally appropriate content as dictated by students rather than dispensers of predetermined knowledge.

McLuhan posits how hot or cool media alter sense ratios and patterns of perception. Perhaps use of digital media and TV will not have exclusive impacts, but rather will form a new pattern of thought and action that will be more visual, nonlinear, immediate, and text-dependent.

- Norma