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Media Technologies

Rather than decipher the entire reading we were giving and blog about them, I would like to talk about a new factor I was introduced to. Hot and cool media

Throughout the progression of the media we have seen many shifts in from, ranging from the transition from oral and written communication to digital/mass communication.

From my studies it was obvious that not only was the media form changing but so was the control and power that was connected to these media forms.

During the oral communication phase, power was maintained by the tribal leaders & high kings. The ability to convey stories via the spoken word or song. In this case the power was with the performer.

With the introduction of the written word the power has shifted from the performer to the the scribe or holder of these written records.From this era the quote “history is always written by the victors” was stemmed. 

This for me was the first sign of corruption of power when it came to the control of communication.

With the onset of the industrial  revolution and more important the printing press the written word finally  obtained its freedom. Gaining the ability to mass produce printed works the masses regained a fraction of lost power. Printed works – although this invention was designed to reproduce the bible and instructions for machines used in work – were easily distributed to the masses. This new ability formed the first political groups, as we were told by Innis.

But this era also formed a new division of media refered to as hot media.

“Hot media are  high definition and data -intense with a a large amount of information conveyed. Usually to a single one of the human senses” 

McLuhan argues that the ability to mass produce books and, later newspapers precipitated an end to the age of oral, informal, face-to-face communication and its replacement by a society so dominated by standardised print media that the human senses because fragmented because everything was reduced to and dictated by the form of the written word.

McLuhan suggests, print media were amenable to such hierarchical arrangements .Isolated, individualised and silent, the reader is dictated to by the one directional, linear organisation and the intense detail of the information in the text.Thus, print media was responsible for the development of an early capitalist society dominated by rigid cultural hierarchies, standardisation and individual isolation.

With the development of electronic media – a cool technology, which McLuhan believed would liberate audiences from the restriction of the print age -we were gifted a ‘mechanical, one-way expansion from centres to margins’. We invented the television  and incresed the development of the golbal village

Television was seen as spontaneous, intimate, informal and incomplete – inviting creative audiunce participation. Which McLuhan argues was ‘ no longer relevant to our electronic world’ 

This was the birth of cool media…. According to McLuhan, low-definition channels of communication such as television and telephones that stimulate several different senses and require high audience participation.

Postman, in 1997,  summed up television ‘…is out coltures principal mode of knowing its self. Therefore…how television stages the world becomes the model for how the world is properly to be staged’

There is no murder so brutal, no earthquake so devastating, no political blunder so costly–for that matter, no ball score so tantalizing or weather report so threatening–that it cannot be erased from our minds by a newscaster saying, “Now… this.” the newscaster means that you have thought long 

enough on the previous matter (approximately forty-five seconds), that you must not be morbidly preoccupied with it (let us say, for ninety seconds), and that you must now give your attention to another fragment of news or a commercial

So, what nowEven Mander says.. far from been neutral, television its self predetermined who ass use it, how they shall use it, what effects it will have on individual lives and… what sort of political forms will inevitably emerge.

so, what now, that we have left the electronic phase and entered the digital phase?

First we need to fully examine perhaps McLuhans boldest and most renounced statement.. “the medium is the message” 

Mander, McLuhan and Postman, labelled technologically determinist’s, ‘assume that the inherent biases of the media technologies dictate their use and impact in perdictable ways, regardless of who develops and controls them, who uses them and what socio-cultural context they are places within’

The internet may have as much potential to facilitate hot forms of communication, As McLuhan says ‘low intensity cool ones, just as it may offer as many opportunities for reinforcement of existing social structures and relations of power as it does for their transformation, Marginal political groups might use it as a means to coordinate subversive protests, powerful coporations to bombard consumers with ad’s’

McChesney claims ‘large scale commercial organisations and governments have been able to exploit and dominate the internet, using it as a means to consolidate their strength and influence…

So, what now…? we have now combined hot and cool media forms and by doing this we have concentrated the power sources into one medium, just like before in the oral, written and electronic phases. Only now, the elite who control this power not only have the ability to control a small group of people.. but they have control of the entire global village