Saturday, February 21, 2009

Teresa's questions/comments

1- McLuhan in the medium is the message, asserts that the medium not the content determines culture (e.g., printed word led to a lineal and uniform society). He provides convincing evidence for that claim but one question remains: What is the role played by the meanings given by society to that content in a given context and period of time. Is culture determined by both the technological device and the different interpretations of that content?

2- Also, McLuhan criticizes Wilbur Schramm because he tried to analyze the effects of TV content on some areas where TV had not penetrated before. According to McLuhan, it is not possible to analyze the real effects of a medium on society in a short period of time and by focusing on the content. How do we explain, then, that famous study in Fiji which found that people changed their perceptions of beauty after the introduction of TV? Aren’t these two approaches complementary rather than mutually exclusive?

3- Debord asserts that spectacle culture is an instrument of pacification and despolicitization, which ultimately stupefies people. To what extent this idea differs from Adorno and Hokheimer’s culture industry?

4- Bauman (Deuze, 2007) asserts that is a fallacy to think that a particular technology, such as the Internet, is a wondrous alternative to the fading political democracy. In contrast, he poses that this powerful flow of information may be more threatening to democracy. To pose that the Web is the “panacea” for political participation, civic engagement and democracy is indeed a fallacy. It is also true that the overflow of information may overwhelm people and eventually disengage them. But Bauman, like Putnam, seems to be anchored in the past. These new technologies, although not as cohesive as belonging to the bowling club, may allow people to organize themselves and provide companion. How can we explain the fact that the government of Turkey and Saudi Arabia are trying to ban some Web pages because many feminist women are organizing themselves through the Internet?

5- Bauman also sees globalization as a negative phenomenon because it brings smuggling, criminality, mafia, terrorism. Other authors (Adorno and Horkheimer) also suggest that globalization bring uniformity. Using McLuhan’s metaphor of the “global village,” I wonder whether globalization —and even the “imperialist culture industry”— allows people to talk a common language, share experiences (music, movies, characters), and understandings. Also, do these shared experiences and understandings have positive aspects for people’s coexistence or not?

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