Monthly Archives: January 2010

Understanding Media

I found it somewhat ironic that the title of McLuhan’s piece was Understanding Media- The Extensions of Man. If anything, I found the reading difficult to understand at times and full of long drawn out examples (ch. 2: Hot/Cold Media) that just didn’t seem to get to the point.

Despite the complaints, I did enjoy the first chapter, “The Medium is the Message.” In our society we are often only concerned with the final product, or the final message, often forgetting the mediums that allow us to see that message. McLuhan gives the example of light and its ability to transform messages. As McLuhan points out, we often ignore the light itself “ because it has no “content”” (p.9). I find this whole concept of the medium as the message somewhat abstract, but intriguing.

I also found the last chapter very interesting because many of the points McLuhan made very much relate to media today and many of the things that I think we will be discussing in this class. McLuhan writes, “All media are active metaphors in their power to translate experience into new forms.” (P. 57) Today, media has become so much more than just information, it’s an experience that is constantly changing the way that we receive and send information. It is this aspect of media that I find so interesting and unique, which is part of the reason why I am taking this class.

Overall, McLuhan makes some interesting points, I just wish that the writing (and some of the examples) could have been a little more clear.

Understanding or Confusing Media

Marshall McLuhan has an interesting way to explore various media theories in Understanding Media, The Extensions of Man. The first chapter, where he explains the Medium is the Message, I thought was very interesting. It reminded me of my philosophy courses.  The explanation of the content found through the medium was intriguing, and somewhat made sense. It wasn’t until he compares Western “man” (I found this sexist language quite annoying) with natives that I felt he was making some hasty generalizations. I also felt that he was quite ethnocentric and arrogant in some of his statements.

He states that “the effects fo technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance” (p.18). I wondered if he implied that this was inevitable or if there was some agency? I also wonder how accurate is it to state that “technological media are staples or natural resources” (p.21)? I would think that they are capital resources instead.

I thought the part on Hot vs. Cold Media was very interesting. Though this chapter provides various examples and a definition of Hot Media, I wonder if this is really accurately divided. I found myself having many more questions than answers from this text.


As I’ve already told those of you who pre-registered for the class last semester, we’re going to be experimenting with several Google applications, including Groups, Docs, and Wave, over the course of the semester. In order to use those applications, you’ll need a working Gmail account that you’re willing to share with the class. If you already have a Gmail account, and haven’t yet sent me that address, please do as ASAP. If you don’t have one, sign up; it’s free!

welcome to your blog

This site is yours to make of what you want, a space for further interaction, for exploration, for testing out some of the ideas that come up in our discussions or in your papers. You’ll be expected to post your thoughts about our class reading here on the blog, but I also want to see you trying things out here for yourselves, thinking actively about how this blog might be made a useful space for thinking about and experimenting with the technologies that we’re studying this semester.

So any number of things might provide a good topic for a blog post. Here are a few suggestions (slightly modified from a similar list my colleague Meg Worley gave a class of hers):

  • Isn’t it cool the way that Author X seems to predict technology Y?
  • Aargh, I just can’t get my head around today’s reading.
  • Does “jargonterm” mean P or Q — or something else entirely?
  • Wow, Reading Z really reminds me of last week’s episode of Lost.
  • I could use some feedback on this idea I’ve been wrestling with…
  • Did she say A or B in class yesterday? I forgot to write it down.
  • Hey, I’m in a play this weekend, and y’all should come!

You’ll no doubt find other things you want to post about, too — things you stumble across on the web that the rest of the class should see, things you find in your research that the rest of the class might be interested in. This kind of sharing is what makes group blogs exciting; I’ll look forward to seeing what you come up with.