Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Medium, The Message, and Me and You

So, I uploaded to YouTube some videos of a public lecture I gave at at Eastern Michigan University, in Ypsilanti, Michigan on March 19, 2009. It's chopped up to fit the YouTube requirement to keep it under ten minutes (unless you are one of the chosen few). To be honest, I thought it would sound worse than it does, because I had a chest cold at the time, and my voice was pretty hoarse.

Christine Tracy, a professor of journalism in the Department of English Language and Literature, was my host at EMU, and I thank her for bringing me over there and for her hospitality, and also for her kind words in introducing me.

The full title of this lecture is
"The Medium, the Message, and Me and You: Understanding Technological and Symbolic Environments" in case you were wondering, and it's about (you guessed it) media ecology, with special emphasis on Marshall McLuhan, and what I like to call the first aphorism of media ecology, the medium is the message. I've given variations of this talk a number of times in the past, and a version of the lecture was published as "Studying Media As Media: McLuhan and the Media Ecology Approach" in the online journal Media Tropes (Volume 1, 2008, pp. 127-142). You can download the piece as a PDF from the following URL: (that's right, you can click on the URL, I did that for you, not to mention the fact that there's also a link to the article over on the right).

So yeah, you can read it, but why bother when you can have pictures and sound instead (there's some media ecology for ya!)? So, without further ado, away we go:

And that is that, pretty much. Actually, my answer to that last question goes on past where this final video ends, and I think there may have been one or more other questions, but it seems that the videotape ran out before I did. And in this way, my message is defined and delimited by the medium. I rest my case.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A SLU of ME(A) Pictures

So, here are some pictures from the 2009 annual meeting of the Media Ecology Association, which was hosted by Saint Louis University (aka SLU, pronounced slew) on June 18-21. The pictures are courtesy of Rob Francos, and I've only chosen the ones directly relevant to me this time, not having all that much time to upload everything, and anyway, this blog is an exercise in narcissism, as I stated at the very beginning of this blog, don'tyaknow.

So, for starters, here I am as a respondent to a session about drugs as media (yes, that's what it was about):

Yeah, I wasn't wearing a tie. My first post-/past-presidential MEA convention, I figured I could loosen up a bit. Plus, the heat and humidity together were all but unbearable. St. Louis in June is far from ideal.

Anyway, here's a shot of John Miles Foley delivering his keynote address, and you can spot me in the audience on the left:

And for a closer view:

And here's a picture from dinner that night, as I chat with Paul Grosswiler and his kids:

And now for some pictures from the Awards Ceremony, which I was the MC for. I put on my tie right before it, and took it off right after!

Janet Sternberg, who took over as MEA President this year had just given her first President's Address, prior to the Awards Ceremony, so when she called me up to do the awards, I gave her a hug:

And here we go:

This part of the program is always good for moral, and an occasion for some levity:

I was mostly on the edge of the photos with the Awards winners, but here's one that's worth including, with Marshall McLuhan Book Award winners Rick Williams and Julianne Newton:

And here's the winner of the Neil Postman Career Award for Outstanding Public Intellectual Activity, Alan Kay:

So, this time around, after all of the awards were presented, Thom Gencarelli came up, and he and Janet did a little tribute for my long service to the MEA (over a decade as president), and they gave me a present.

What is it?

It's a Kindle! That calls for a big thank you!

And more hugs!

And they gave me a standing ovation:

And some mugging for the camera!

So, the next day I eschewed both tie and jacket:

As I introduced computing pioneer Alan Kay:

Later on, Corey Anton and I led a special session about general semantics that introduced the discipline to folks at the conference who were unfamiliar with it, as well as serving as a refresher course for others. Here's Corey, doing his bit:

And here am I doing my part:

The audience was spellbound:

That's Ed Tywoniak and Barry Liss, and the session really was well attended and well received, if I do say so myself.

And here's Corey looking antsy while I'm talking (can't say I blame him), and you can see the Institute of General Semantics website projected onto the screen in the background:

Finally, the library had a special exhibit devoted to Walter Ong set up for the occasion. Ong did his MA at SLU as Marshall McLuhan's student, and went on teach there for many decades, rising to the position of university professor before his retirement. Here's one shot from the exhibit that's worth including, and closing this post with:

Yes, literacy is dead, so just enjoy the pretty pictures, ok?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Media Conversations in Pictures

You may remember my blog posts about the Media Conversations conference last month? If you are in need of a refresher course, here they are:

Well, that was mostly about words (about which, see Media Conversations Wordle). Here now are pictures from the second and third days of the conference, courtesy of my MA student Mariusz Han, taken at Pratt Institute, the Players Club, and Fordham University, cosponsored by those three institutions as well as the Institute of General Semantics and the Media Ecology Association. And in keeping with the theme of media literacy, I won't tax your literacy literacy skills any further, and will just let you view the pictures without caption or explanation (yeah, ok, I'm being lazy).