Sunday, April 29, 2007

The Best of Times for a Media Ecologist

We Media Ecologists truly are blessed to live within the current media environment. Not only do we see an affirmation (for good or ill) of Marshall McLuhan's global village in the World Wide Web, but we also see the playing out of many of the key areas of inquiry we've pursued these many years. The current political climate reaffirms Neil Postman's claim that we have been amusing ourselves to death. Every day the newspapers, television news broadcasts and political websites give us new examples of propaganda to use in our teachings , confirming our study of Jacques Ellul. The recent vote to augment funding of the Iraq War, but with a timetable for withdrawal, could be used as a classic example of Paul Watzlawick's "double bind." In our public discourse, in our entertainment and in our educational institutions we see evidence of the transition to a secondary orality as described by Walter Ong. We think magically, or as Levi-Strauss noted, we engage in transcendental rather than empirical deduction.

We can't seem to focus on the key issues. We are easily distracted by propagandistic techniques. We have trouble distinguishing manufactured fantasies from reality. We have lost our ablity to think logically about solving our problems, preferring image over substance. We fiddle while Rome burns. In other words, contemporary society manifests the very characteristics of cultural disfunction brought about by technology and media that Media Ecologists have predicted for the past 35+ years.

What better time could there be to be a Media Ecologist?

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