SELECT AN EDITION:
9th EDITION   10th EDITION   11th EDITION
A First Look at Communication Theory Reveal main menu
 
CHANGE TO View by Theory
Theory Outlines
11th Edition

From the Instructors Manual

List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter 31Media Ecology


  1. Introduction.
  1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
  2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
  3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
  4. Dennis Cali defines media ecology as “the study of the interrelationship of people, media, culture, and consciousness, and of the changes that occur among them.”
  5. Media ecology aims to equip us with a new ability to step back and see our media environment in a different light.
  1. The medium is the message.
  1. McLuhan was thinking about a much bigger, grander picture than which channel you use to send a greeting; he focused on the overall environment created by the communication medium.
  2. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
  3. McLuhan was convinced that when we consider the cultural influence of media, we are usually misled by the illusion of content (or messages).
  4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  5. “The medium is the message” isn’t a claim about whether you’d prefer to catch up with a friend through email or phone or whether you’d rather watch a movie than play a video game. It’s a claim about the pervasive, unavoidable effect of media on how we perceive the world—much greater than the effect of any message.
  1. Symbolic environments that alter the senses
  1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as symbolic environments.
  2. That phrase refers to the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  3. McLuhan believed communication technology extends our central nervous system—a complex network of nerves that transmits signals from the environment.
  4. Communication technology reconfigures our symbolic environment by enabling us to sense things we otherwise could not.
  5. All symbolic environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
  1. Invisibility of environments.
  1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
  2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology—experiences that are so common we don’t think much about them.
  3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
  4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
  5. When a new medium enters society, there is a period of time in which we are aware of its novelty. But when it fades into the background of our lives, we become vulnerable to its patterns—its environmental influence.
  1. Complexity of environments.
  1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.  
  2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture. 
  3. One way McLuhan tried to gain a broader perspective was by stepping outside the moment and considering all of human history.
  1. A media analysis of symbolic environments throughout human history.
  1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
  1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because new developments in media technology altered the nature of our senses.
  2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 31-1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
  1. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history.
  1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
  2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
  3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
  1. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
  1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality. Both writer and reader are always separated from the text.
  2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement into “civilized” private detachment.
  3. Even though the words may be the same, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
  4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
  5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
  1. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
  1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
  2. Because the print revolution demonstrated mass production of identical products, McLuhan called it the forerunner of the industrial revolution.
  3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
  4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
  1. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
  1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media retribalized the human race.
  2. We now live in a symbolic environment of instant communication, which returns us to the pre-alphabetic oral tradition where sound and touch are more important than sight.
  3. Closed human systems no longer exist.
  4. Privacy is either a luxury or a curse of the past.
  1. The digital age? A wireless global village.
  1. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
  2. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality.
  3. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  1. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. Postman believed whatever advantages TV offers are more than offset by the fact that it has led to the loss of serious public discourse.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  1. Critique: An unconventional thinker ahead of his time.
  1. In McLuhan’s intentional breaking of the rules, there is artistry; his writing contains pithy insights that challenge our assumptions about media and culture.
  2. The aesthetic appeal of his work captures the attention of both scholars and everyday people.
  3. Today, with several decades of hindsight, McLuhan sounds eerily prophetic.
  4. Both the criticism of his detractors and the praise of his fans demonstrate that McLuhan has shaken up our understanding of people.
  5. He didn’t clarify the values that undergird his theory.
  6. He also seemed uninterested in challenging the values that shape the development of communication technology.
  7. Just as there has been a community of disagreement that denounces McLuhan, there is also a widespread community of agreement that celebrates and continues his work.
  8. Passionate members of the Media Ecology Association use qualitative research to consider the possible cultural effects of new media technologies.


You can access the Outline for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

Back to top



Resources
by Type


Instructors can get
additional resources.
Read more



 OUTLINES


 VIDEOS


 ESSAY






New to Theory
Resources?

Find out more
in this short
video overview
(3:01).

CHANGE TO View by Theory
Theory Outlines
11th Edition

From the Instructors Manual

List mode: Normal (click on theory name to show detail) | Show All details | Clear details

Chapter 31Media Ecology


  1. Introduction.
  1. Ecologists study the environment, how people interact with it, and the way these interactions result in change.
  2. Media ecologists study media environments, seeking to understand how people interact with media and how those interactions shape our culture and our daily experiences.
  3. Marshall McLuhan believed that media should be understood ecologically.
  4. Dennis Cali defines media ecology as “the study of the interrelationship of people, media, culture, and consciousness, and of the changes that occur among them.”
  5. Media ecology aims to equip us with a new ability to step back and see our media environment in a different light.
  1. The medium is the message.
  1. McLuhan was thinking about a much bigger, grander picture than which channel you use to send a greeting; he focused on the overall environment created by the communication medium.
  2. When McLuhan said, "the medium is the message," he wanted us to see that media—regardless of content—reshape human experience and exert far more change in our world than the sum total of all the messages they contain.
  3. McLuhan was convinced that when we consider the cultural influence of media, we are usually misled by the illusion of content (or messages).
  4. We focus on the content and overlook the medium—even though content doesn’t exist outside of the way it’s mediated.
  5. “The medium is the message” isn’t a claim about whether you’d prefer to catch up with a friend through email or phone or whether you’d rather watch a movie than play a video game. It’s a claim about the pervasive, unavoidable effect of media on how we perceive the world—much greater than the effect of any message.
  1. Symbolic environments that alter the senses
  1. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as symbolic environments.
  2. That phrase refers to the socially constructed, sensory world of meanings that in turn shapes our perceptions, experiences, attitudes, and behavior.
  3. McLuhan believed communication technology extends our central nervous system—a complex network of nerves that transmits signals from the environment.
  4. Communication technology reconfigures our symbolic environment by enabling us to sense things we otherwise could not.
  5. All symbolic environments are inherently intangible and interrelated.
  1. Invisibility of environments.
  1. We have trouble recognizing “the way media work as environments’ because we’re so immersed in them.
  2. We need to focus on our everyday experience of technology—experiences that are so common we don’t think much about them.
  3. A medium shapes us because we partake of it over and over until it becomes an extension of ourselves.
  4. It’s the ordinariness of media that makes them invisible.
  5. When a new medium enters society, there is a period of time in which we are aware of its novelty. But when it fades into the background of our lives, we become vulnerable to its patterns—its environmental influence.
  1. Complexity of environments.
  1. Research on media ecology is rather sparse because it takes up the challenge of trying to understand the interplay between all of these things in a culture that changes at blazing speed.  
  2. McLuhan believed that it took a special ability to be able to stand back from the action and take in the big picture. 
  3. One way McLuhan tried to gain a broader perspective was by stepping outside the moment and considering all of human history.
  1. A media analysis of symbolic environments throughout human history.
  1. McLuhan divided all human history into four periods, or epochs—a tribal age, a literate age, a print age, and an electronic age.
  1. In each case the world was wrenched from one era into the next because new developments in media technology altered the nature of our senses.
  2. McLuhan believed the transitions (shaded in gray in Figure 31-1) took 300 to 400 years to complete.
  1. The tribal age: An acoustic place in history.
  1. The senses of hearing, touch, taste, and smell were more advanced than visualization. McLuhan wrote about the “sensory balance” of the tribal age—a delicate balance and harmony of all the senses despite the high importance of hearing in an age where most of the important information was acoustic and needed to be heard.
  2. McLuhan claimed that “primitive” people led richer and more complex lives than their literate descendants because the ear, unlike the eye, encourages a more holistic sense of the world.
  3. People acted with more passion and spontaneity.
  1. The age of literacy: A visual point of view.
  1. In an acoustic environment, taking something out of context is nearly impossible. In the age of literacy, it’s a reality. Both writer and reader are always separated from the text.
  2. Literacy moved people from collective tribal involvement into “civilized” private detachment.
  3. Even though the words may be the same, the act of reading a text is an individual one.
  4. Literacy encouraged logical, linear thinking, and fostered mathematics, science, and philosophy.
  5. When oppressed people learned to read, they became independent thinkers.
  1. The print age: Prototype of the Industrial Revolution.
  1. McLuhan argued that the most important aspect of movable type was its ability to reproduce the same text over and over again.
  2. Because the print revolution demonstrated mass production of identical products, McLuhan called it the forerunner of the industrial revolution.
  3. The development of fixed national languages produced nationalism.
  4. Concurring with this new sense of unification was a countering sense of separation and aloneness.
  1. The electronic age: The rise of the global village.
  1. McLuhan believed that the electronic media retribalized the human race.
  2. We now live in a symbolic environment of instant communication, which returns us to the pre-alphabetic oral tradition where sound and touch are more important than sight.
  3. Closed human systems no longer exist.
  4. Privacy is either a luxury or a curse of the past.
  1. The digital age? A wireless global village.
  1. The mass age of electronic media is becoming increasingly personalized.
  2. Instead of mass consciousness, which McLuhan viewed rather favorably, we have the emergence of a tribal warfare mentality.
  3. Media scholar Brian Ott claims Twitter has altered the nature of public discourse by demanding simplicity, promoting impulsivity, and fostering incivility.
  1. Ethical reflection: Postman’s Faustian bargain.
    1. Neil Postman believed that the forms of media regulate and even dictate what kind of content the form of a given medium can carry.
    2. Unlike McLuhan, Postman believed that the primary task of media ecology is to make moral judgments.
    3. New technology always presents us with a Faustian bargain—a potential deal with the devil.
    4. Postman believed whatever advantages TV offers are more than offset by the fact that it has led to the loss of serious public discourse.
    5. Postman feared that virtual interaction may sabotage the kind of intimacy that only comes by being in the physical presence of others.
  1. Critique: An unconventional thinker ahead of his time.
  1. In McLuhan’s intentional breaking of the rules, there is artistry; his writing contains pithy insights that challenge our assumptions about media and culture.
  2. The aesthetic appeal of his work captures the attention of both scholars and everyday people.
  3. Today, with several decades of hindsight, McLuhan sounds eerily prophetic.
  4. Both the criticism of his detractors and the praise of his fans demonstrate that McLuhan has shaken up our understanding of people.
  5. He didn’t clarify the values that undergird his theory.
  6. He also seemed uninterested in challenging the values that shape the development of communication technology.
  7. Just as there has been a community of disagreement that denounces McLuhan, there is also a widespread community of agreement that celebrates and continues his work.
  8. Passionate members of the Media Ecology Association use qualitative research to consider the possible cultural effects of new media technologies.


You can access the Outline for a particular chapter in several ways:

  • Switch to View by Theory, then select the desired theory/chapter from the drop-down list at the top of the page. Look in the list of available resources.
  • To quickly find a theory by chapter number, use the Table of Contents and link from there. It will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.
  • You can also use the Theory List, which will take you directly to the theory with available options highlighted.

Back to top



The screen on this device is not wide enough to display Theory Resources. Try rotating the device to landscape orientation to see if more options become available.
Resources available to all users:

  • Theory Overview—abstract of each chapter
  • Self-Help Quizzes—for student preparation
  • Chapter Outlines
  • Key Names—important names and terms in each chapter
  • Conversation Videos—interviews with theorists
  • Application Logs—student application of theories
  • Essay Questions—for student prepatation
  • Suggested Movie Clips—tie-in movie scenese to theories
  • Links—web resources related to each chapter
  • Primary Sources—for each theory with full chapter coverage
  • Further Resources—bibliographic and other suggestions
  • Changes—for each theory, since the previous edition
  • Theory Archive—PDF copies from the last edition in which a theory appeared

Resources available only to registered instructors who are logged in:

  • Discussion Suggestions
  • Exercises & Activities
  • PowerPoint® presentations you can use
  • Short Answer Quizzes—suggested questions and answers
  • Compare Texts—comparison of theories covered in A First Look and ten other textbooks

Information for Instructors. Read more


 

Copyright © Em Griffin 2022 | Web design by Graphic Impact