Main | March 2009 »

February 20, 2009

The Medium Is the Message - McLuhan

"For the content of the medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind." It is comments like these that are truly the epitome of how media is perceived in today's day and age. Marshall McLuhan makes an interesting comparison of media to light/light bulb. He says that a light, by itself, is not communication because there is no content. Yet when it is delivered through a light bulb, it reaches the area it inhabits. In the same way, media acts as the same type of content. By itself, it is just "floating around" in society, but with "light bulbs" or newspapers and other types of media, it has the potential to reach people and be heard. Media, as McLuhan says, "creates an environment by its mere presence". I think that this is very much true. The presence of media, whether it is in newspapers, on television, or in a blog on the internet, shapes the environment by the content of the media. For example, news of a possible terrorist attack or school shooting creates an atmosphere of panic and anxiety no matter what the credibility of the source (well, in most cases). In the same way, TV has massive effects on the viewers who spend countless hours in front of it watching diligently, taking everything in. Different news stations are all slightly biased to some small degree and depending on which you prefer, you will start to shift towards to that bias based on habit. Your opinions are affected by those of the news station. Some people believe everything they are fed from the television, while some other people don't believe anything that comes from a television.
The older generation of citizens living today are more likely to pick up a newspaper or listen to the radio based on how they received media when they were growing up. In the same way, the newer generations of people, the younger citizens today, are more apt to accepting new technology with open arms and embracing the blog, email, online newspaper and other forms of media that are brought forth by Web 2.0.

Keen and his "Cult of the Amateur"

Throughout Andrew Keen's "The Cult of the Amateur", he takes a lot of stabs at the way new media is developing. He discredits amateur journalists who shouldn't really count as journalists to begin with. He also attributes many things like the decline of music and the new age of identity theft to the Web 2.0 and new media world. What is unclear about Keen's assertions is whether or not he's truly being serious throughout his destruction of new media. At times, he seems like he is writing in a satirical and comedic manner by the way he just tears down the new music and journalism industry with no hesitation. I can understand his point of view through most of it, and some of it I even agree with him on. Yet, I don't feel as though these "amateur" bloggers and journalists should not receive some type of recognition for their efforts. Some actually provide legitimate and semi-professional material all without earning a formal degree. I can understand that professional journalists do much better and more polished work, but it is nice to hear from the entire range of consumers of media and news. The younger generation can contribute just as much as the older and more experienced generation.

I do agree that music should seek new and innovative ways to salvage the things that we used to treasure about how music was distributed and listened to a decade ago. Peer-to-peer file sharing makes music way to accessible to get without paying for. I have fallen victim to this just as nearly everyone else who is a consumer of music. Nearly our entire generation is falling into the trend of music theft and such. The artists, the ones who we treasure and rely on to put out this music, are suffering because of it. This leads me to question why something hasn't been done about it to put an end or to slow it down. We need to see it from their point of view at least.