Archive for July 23rd, 2013

July 23, 2013

Technological Determinism

Technological determinism [dih-tur-muh-niz-uhm] is a reductionist theory that presumes that a society’s technology drives the development of its social structure and cultural values. The term is believed to have been coined by American economist and sociologist Thorstein Veblen (1857–1929). The most radical technological determinist in the United States in the twentieth century was most likely economist Clarence Ayres who was a follower of Veblen and American philosopher and psychologist John Dewey. Sociologist William Ogburn was also known for espousing theories of radical technological determinism.

Veblen’s contemporary, popular historian Charles A. Beard, said of the concept: ‘Technology marches in seven-league boots from one ruthless, revolutionary conquest to another, tearing down old factories and industries, flinging up new processes with terrifying rapidity.’

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July 23, 2013

Media Ecology

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The term ‘media ecology‘ was formally introduced in 1968 by cultural critic Neil Postman (who would later become well known for his 1985 book about television, ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’), but the concept was originally proposed four years earlier by Canadian philosopher of communication theory Marshall McLuhan. Media ecology theory centers on the principles that technology not only profoundly influences society, it also controls virtually all walks of life. It is a study of how media and communication processes affect human perception and understanding.

To strengthen this theory, McLuhan and graphic designer Quentin Fiore claim that it is the media of the epoch that defines the essence of the society by presenting four epochs, inclusive of Tribal Era, Literate Era, Print Era, and Electronic Era, which corresponds to the dominant mode of communication of the time respectively. McLuhan argues that media act as extensions of the human senses in each era, and communication technology is the primary cause of social change.

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