Philosophy of Media: The Medium is the Message

A philosophical analysis of the concept of ‘media’ to build a working definition, followed by a short overview of ‘media’ types from the invention of writing, through print media to telephone, radio, television and finally the internet. The focus will be on the way the medium changes the reception of the message. Marshall McLuhan will be the key philosopher in the course. He is considered by many to be the inventor of Media Philosophy in its contemporary sense. He was a visionary in his ideas of how communications would revolutionize the 20th century and beyond. McLuhan’s most famous phrase ‘The Medium is the Message’ became the catalyst for a whole industry in Media Studies. The idea is taken to be the realization that the medium alters one’s perception of the content of the message, however McLuhan’s philosophy of the ‘medium’ is much more complex and we will look at it in detail.

We will also consider his revolutionary idea of how the information machine is producing a ‘global village’ which alters our sense of space and time. This idea is explored in his book: The Global Village: Beyond existing Communication Models (1989). Another important issue addressed in the course will be the contemporary debate concerning the relationship between the human brain and media technologies. Nicholas G. Carr’s book The Shallows is an example of this approach. We will look at a range of philosophers and neurobiologists on this topic. Throughout the course the political and economic impacts of media technologies will be never far from our analysis. There is much new scholarship in this field, for example Tom Wheeler’s new book From Gutenberg to Google (2019).

DELIVERY MODE

  • Online

COURSE OUTLINE

  • What is ‘Media?: We will introduce this concept and evaluate the elements that make a form of communication into a ‘media’. For example, what is the difference between a personal conversation and a formal speech designed for a mass audience.
  • Socrates to Social Media: We will do a short overview of types of ‘media’ from the invention of writing, through print media to telephone, radio and finally the internet. The focus will be on the way the medium changes the reception of the message.
  • Marshall McLuhan: McLuhan is considered by many to be the inventor of Media Philosophy in its contemporary sense. He was a visionary in his ideas of how communications would revolutionize the 20thc and beyond. The ‘Medium is the Message’ is McLuhan’s most famous phrase; in his philosophy it is a multifaceted concept, we will look at it in detail.
  • The Global Village: In the book The Global Village: Beyond existing Communication Models (1989) McLuhan coined the term ‘The Global Village’ and predicted some of the issues of the interned before it had even arrived. Quote: “We have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned... the technological simulation of consciousness, will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society”
  • Neil Postman: Postman wrote extensively in works such as: Amusing Ourselves to Death; Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. He is much less positive in his approach to the technological revolution than McLuhan. In Technopoly he proposes that humans are surrendering their human judgment to a whole range of media machines.
  • The Production of Attention: Different types of media will encourage or discourage emotional affects as a means of gaining audience attention. As every advertising expert knows, something as simple as font style, page layout or color quality, can make the difference between engaging the viewer or not being noticed.
  • The Invention of Travel Consumerism: This week we will focus on a single issue of past media: the invention of the glossy travel magazine. The broader issues here will be the politics of global travel and national identity. The Transported Imagination: Australian Interwar Magazines and Geographical Imaginations of Colonial Modernity (2018)
  • New Technology and the Brain: There is much debate on how new medias may be changing the way in which the human brain learns and processes information, we look at a range of these views. One example is Nicholas G. Carr, The Shallows (2010).
  • What’s Good About the Technology Revolution?: New medias have brought many benefits to human society, and many more are predicted, we will assess some of these benefits.
  • Where to from Here: As one might expect there is no dearth of future predictions on the next stage of technological developments, we will assess some of these predictions.
$270 Limited / $243

<p>A philosophical analysis of the concept of ‘media’ to build a working definition, followed by a short overview of ‘media’ types from the invention of writing, through print media to telephone,

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15 Oct

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