City as Classroom: authentic McLuhan inscription?

Encountering Marshall McLuhan’s media theories during college was a significant influence in my decision to pursue graduate studies in communication (there were, of course, many other influencing factors...I wouldn’t want to posit a “hard determinism”). My first scholarly conference papers and academic journal publication were rooted in McLuhan and the Media Ecology tradition. When I … Continue reading City as Classroom: authentic McLuhan inscription?

McLuhan birthday gets doodle

Today's Google doodle honors Marshall McLuhan's 106th birthday. Traditionally these commemorative doodles use images and designs based on a historic event or person's life to "spell" out a version of the Google logo. This animated doodle consists of scenes depicting the successive eras of communication media as outlined by McLuhan. Beginning with oral culture in … Continue reading McLuhan birthday gets doodle

Defining Media Ecology

This essay was originally written as part of my PhD comprehensive exams. It was written in response to the prompt: "Define Media Ecology." Introduction             The meaning of the phrase “media ecology” will likely depend on the context in which it is used. When the phrase appears in popular discourse, it is often used in a … Continue reading Defining Media Ecology

The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next conference

Five years ago I wrote a paper about an ongoing revival of interest in Marshall McLuhan and a recovery of his media theory following decades of mainstream academic misunderstanding and  dismissal of his work. The paper was well-received and eventually published in the Media Ecology Association journal. In the time since I went on to … Continue reading The Toronto School: Then, Now, Next conference

Video: Marshall Arts – McLuhan and media scholars

The Institute of General Semantics has recently posted videos of presentations given at the 2011 General Semantics Symposium. Included is my presentation: "Marshall Arts: Retrieving McLuhan for Communication Scholars". This was my first conference presentation, and the paper eventually became my first academic publication. The focus of my work has shifted considerably in the time since, but … Continue reading Video: Marshall Arts – McLuhan and media scholars

Secondary Orality and Electric Rhetoric: the ground of sound

In Orality and Literacy, Walter Ong introduces the term secondary orality to characterize the recapitulation of oral communication characteristics in electronic media; thus, the introduction of secondary orality necessitates a definition of primary orality in order to function as a meaningful concept. Ong distinguishes between two categories of cultures: oral cultures existing prior to or … Continue reading Secondary Orality and Electric Rhetoric: the ground of sound

McLuhan and Mad Men

The final episode of acclaimed TV series Mad Men aired this week. I've not seen any of the show (though now that the series is complete it is ripe for binge-watching), but I did appreciate this piece from Stephen Marche at Esquire, analyzing Mad Men through Marshall McLuhan's media theory (spoilers if, like me, you're not … Continue reading McLuhan and Mad Men

Media Ecology Monday: Golumbia and the Political Economy of Computationalism

In The Cultural Logic of Computation Golumbia raises questions and addresses issues that are promising, but then proceeds in making an argument that is ultimately unproductive. I am sympathetic to Golumbia’s aims; I share an attitude of skepticism toward the rhetoric surrounding the Internet and new media as inherently democratizing, liberating devices. Golumbia characterizes such … Continue reading Media Ecology Monday: Golumbia and the Political Economy of Computationalism

Resistance is Feudal: A descent into McLuhan’s media maelstrom

McLuhan’s approach to media studies is almost always characterized as deterministic. The entry for McLuhan in the Penguin Dictionary of Critical Theory states in part: “McLuhan’s version of technological determinism is extreme […] the most striking feature of his studies of the media is their total failure to discuss the ownership and control of means … Continue reading Resistance is Feudal: A descent into McLuhan’s media maelstrom