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Interrogating media

When seeking to understand media, gurus/experts like to use questions as guides. Two of the more provocative media thinkers – Postman and McLuhan offer the following to interrogate media (and technology):
In his lecture Technology and Society, Neil Postman offers the following questions for consideration:

What is the problem to which this technology is a solution?
Whose problem is it?
Suppose we solve this problem decisively, what new problems might be created because we have solved the problem?
Which people and what institutions might be most seriously harmed by a technological innovation?
What changes in language are forced by new technologies and what is changed and forced by this new language (meanings)?
What sort of people and institutions acquire special economic and political power because of technological change?

McLuhan offers the following for evaluating media (.pdf):

What does it extend, enhance, accelerate, intensify or enable?
When pushed beyond the limit of its potential, it will reverse what were its original characteristics; into what does it reverse?
What does it displace or obsolesce, that is, render relatively without dominant power or influence?
What does it retrieve from the past that had been formerly obsolesced?

One Comment

  1. DM wrote:

    This is an excellent posting. Thank you.
    I have been thinking off and on about the need for stronger criticism of technology in all its embodiments. I think social criticism of technology will improve technology and make stronger tech markets.

    I’m not against technology – I’m for smarter, more socially conscious technology.

    I’m writing this from a library and I have on my hand a book that is very relevant to this topic:
    Failure to Connect. How Compuers Affect Our Children’s Minds for Better and Worse by Jane M. Healy, PH.D.

    Tuesday, July 21, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Permalink