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Flashcards in Ecological Analysis Deck (30):

a branch of biology; deals with relationship between living organisms and their environment



• Formally introduced the term media ecology in 1968
• Teaching as a Subversive Activity book (apple blowing up//danger of teaching and how that can radically change one’s perception of the world)
• Not inventing it but naming it
• Looks into the matter of how media of communication affects human perception, understanding, feeling, and value; how interaction with

Neil Postman


complex message system which imposes on human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving



specifications are more often implicit and informal; half concealed by our assumption that what we are dealing with is not an environment but merely a machine

Media environments (books, radio, film, tv)


• Call our attention to see how integrated we are into the environment
• What roles media force us to play…

Media ecology tries to make these specifications explicit.


What is a major implication of media ecology?

• Our lived reality cannot be experienced separately from or outside of media
• It is so pervasive, one cannot separate themselves from it
• i.e. the watch as media, no track of time

i.e. The Truman Show – living in a constructed world and gets out
• Christof – we accept reality as what is given to us; it captures us
• Our fully mediated existence but escape is impossible

We live in media; rather than with media


• Literature theorist
• Believed that symbolic actions can produce the same effect as material ones
o i.e. reading of a book on the attaining of success is in itself the symbolic attaining of that success

Equipment for Living – Kenneth Burke


_________ are multiple and therefore there will always be conflicts among _______



______ is impossible to avoid, as it arises each time we break a hierarchy



Ways of Resolving Guilt

Transcendence – appeal to new hierarchy in which the two conflicting hierarchies cease to be in opposition (i.e. flipping a coin to decide what to do to resolve the guilt)
Mortification – symbolic act of atonement, such as confession or self-sacrifice
Victimage – form of scapegoating in which guilty party transfers guilt onto another party a character in a novel, film, tv show, or other media form can serve as a surrogate for our guilt


ppeal to new hierarchy in which the two conflicting hierarchies cease to be in opposition (i.e. flipping a coin to decide what to do to resolve the guilt)



symbolic act of atonement, such as confession or self-sacrifice



form of scapegoating in which guilty party transfers guilt onto another party a character in a novel, film, tv show, or other media form can serve as a surrogate for our guilt



Two archetypal symbolic forms provide equipment for living and help resolve guilt:

• Tragedy - an event causing great suffering
• Comedy – humane way of resolving guilt, tolerant reinstatement of the fool in society rather than tragic punishment of his or herself


Societies face social problems unique to their particular historical moment and therefore develop media forms to address and work through them

• i.e. the Cold War in 1950s - Duck and cover drills to provide protection from the atomic bomb
• how do you work through the anxiety

i.e. Weapons of Science Ready
• doxa
• paranoia, lack of trust in that culture
• give them tools for living
• working out of those anxieties of the time during the Cold War

The Hunger Games
• why we like to go to movies
• vicarious


each medium of communication has relatively fixed characteristics that influence communication in a particular manner

Medium theory


“We make our tools, and then our tools make us.”

Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man (1964)
• TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM – someone created twitter, we act like twitter
• any technology that extend the human sense can be considered media
• media inevitably transforms (mediates) the way that sensory actions are performed in society
- i.e. Ritalin is a form of media b/c it changes our senses
- significance is NOT the content transmitted but what it does to us


“The medium is the Message.”

• Real meaning of a medium is its capacity to transform human minds and human affairs
• i.e. lightbulb as a form of media


The Internet and World Wide Web

• The real message of the internet and WW is their capacity to extend human sight, speech, and memory to an unprecedented degree
• These capacities are what make the internet and WWW a media technology not just b/c you can send messages and read the news online


Is the WWW hot or cool?

• McLuhan evaluated different forms of media according to a metaphorical understanding of their interactive “temperature”
• HOT – high definition, fully engages the senses = radio, cinema, video games (immersive, absorbed into that image, all senses taken into the medium
• COOL – low-definition, little given and much has to be filled in by listener/viewer = television and telephone


Increasing connectivity was giving rise to a re-tribalization of human society and engendering heightened anxiety and conflict

The Global Village


durable media such as clay, parchment, and stone; decentralized hierarchal cultures

Time-biased (Harold Innis)


light and ephemeral media such as TV and the Internet; centralized, egalitarian cultures

Space-biased (Harold Innis)

Innis believed that time-biased and space-biased media need to be in balance for civilization to flourish
• The more technical we get, the easier it is to collapse
• Giving up time-biased media


essentially a conservative society (someone with knowledge, keep going back to them for the knowledge b/c you can’t write it down)


• Primary orality – orality of cultures with no knowledge at all of writing
• Secondary orality – of radio, tv, and film; it grows out of high-literacy cultures and depends on a wide-spread cultivation of writing and reading for its invention


technology whose message is linear, sequential, and strictly controlled

Hot medium


technology whose message favours participation and is multi-vocal and open ended

Cool medium


• Freezes words into objects
• Generated analytic processes
• Originally seen as an intrusion into the life world as something foreign
• For Plato, writing was problematic
o Inhuman
o Unresponsive
o Destroys memory, rely on external source
o Can’t talk back, passive



1. Characteristics:
a. Nonlinear/Decentered
b. Dynamic/Indeterminate
c. Collaborative/Interactive
d. Image/Iconicity

2. Logics/Consciousness:
a. Associative/Spatial
b. Provisional/Adaptable
c. Prosumerly
d. Decisiveness

Characteristics and Logics of Third Wave Media


• Work is offloaded to us (professionals who did that work; the work is now ours)
• i.e. Expedia – used to call; now you have to now the requirements, shop around
• i.e. e-banking
• i.e. store – cashing yourself out; labour offloaded to you; dyi

Prosumer = Producer + Consumer


In sum, media ecology is about seeing the big picture:
About understanding the ways that media help us live our lives.
Understanding how media shape our lives by influencing how we make sense of our social world.

Ecological Analysis