I’ve been reading a lot of Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan, and not been blogging a lot about it because I’m not sure how those ideas affect education per se. Innis is well known for his time and space-biased media, which basically states that the mode of media used to transport knowledge has a time or space bias. Time-biased media are long lasting but do not travel. Space-biased media are portable, but not necessarily long lasting. I suspect that Innis would have rethought this concept now, considering that almost all media are long lasting and almost immediately available worldwide. McLuhan has further pushed the idea to hot and cool media – which works better as a continuum than as an either/or dichotomy. Cool media is high in participation, which is the prevaling trend – media is becoming universally higher in participation.
Perhaps it’s time to reframe the media classifications that have served us well for the last fifty years. Certainly it’s difficult to classify some of the trends we’re seeing. How do you classify a viral video? What constitutes participation in it? Does continuing the viral aspect of it through e-mail How does someone classify a mashup? Do these classifications make sense anymore? I guess I’ll have to get reading some more modern media and communication theory to see what has been done in this realm.
I’ve heard a couple of people talking about the power of Pull, and pull technologies. In one context it was Will Richardson talking about pull, another was through the Twitter feed for NMC 2010. I think all this talk about pull is forgetting that people also have to push for others to pull. So as we end up pulling more, people might push less. With less information being pushed out, popularity becomes a motivator to push – and as we know, popular does not always mean good (sure it’s good sometimes, and certainly entertaining, but not always both).
There will have to be more research into this push-pull dynamic because this flips some of the existing media theory on it’s head. To pull from McLuhan – is the web a “hot” or “cold” media? Using McLuhan’s criteria, it’s both hot and cold. Hot in the sense that it’s engaging the visual sense almost entirely. Hot in that it’s engaging and allows for communication. Cold in that it’s nonlinear. Cold in that it’s a detached medium. Or do we have to segment the web further? Do we have to look at video posting as different than blogging, tweeting or other web 2.0 activities? I think that might be the case. Certainly, different tasks lead to different goals. Posting a video on YouTube engages people differently than posting a video on Vimeo – which is mostly driven by two things. The first is the aesthetics of the video’s surrounding environment (the context of the video). The second is the immediacy of related videos change the context as well. If we derive meaning from the videos from the “related links” we are relying on the algorithm of the related links – through Google in the case of YouTube (I’m not sure if Vimeo has a hand-rolled relational script, or if it uses Google’s algorithm as well) – to make sense of the video in addition to the video itself.
This article, Digital Media: The New Democracy brings up an interesting idea – blogging, and by extension all the social media we engage in (like vernacular video) is continuing the tradition of oral history. Of course, theorists like Ong (secondary orality) and McLuhan (the global village) have talked about these ideas in relation to the democratization of the narrative – as we take control of publication and the content of the publication we also change the way history is recorded and how the future will look at us. Of course, having the written word overwrite some cultures, and even some people’s existence, what will the digital oral history overwrite?
Certainly it is easy to see “primitive” cultures being overwritten, there is very little Kalahari bushmen websites, or anything other than minutia about what the “cultured” world has done to them (for diamonds, for the land they live on…) from a documentary perspective. While this is progress, and some will argue inevitable, is it right? Do those of us in a privileged position have a moral (oral?) obligation to bring these issues up?
This morning, while perusing my Twitter feed, I thought I’d bounce around some more keywords in Google to see what I could come up with around the aesthetics of educational spaces. After a couple of promising hits, including a Japanese presentation to a conference (to which my Japanese reading ability is about as much as my flying ability – zero), my network pops up this Henry Jenkins blog posting about Twitter.
I’ve skimmed it, and really need to give a once over at least one more time. It’s a well thought out, balanced critique of Twitter. On the one hand we have this tool that’s seemingly perfect for broadcasting, yet people still insist on having conversations! Jenkins point about the two parts of Twitter, the Here It Is/Here I Am components, seem right. Although, it seems right for an individual – how does a business or organization fit in? It’s an interesting thing to ponder.
We’ve seen with MySpace that genuine existence and experience is a commodity that you can’t overvalue. People left MySpace when things got too business-like, and felt like a burden to login. We’re starting to see this with Twitter as well, where spam/pornobots are becoming slightly more sophisticated and actually making themselves look like they possibly could be humans. I don’t mind deleting or not following a couple of people a day, but the bigger players in the Twitterverse certainly get more of this sort of action. At what point does logging into Twitter become a burden? More importantly, what businesses will be successful in using Twitter, and which ones are going to bully you with endless advertising?