The Present Future's Future...
An Environment Defined by Technology
Media Environments as Communications
According to Lance Strate: "Media Ecology is the study of media environments and the idea that technology and techniques, modes of information and codes of communication play a leading role in human affairs.... It is technological determinism, hard and soft, and technological evolution. It is media logic Medium theory, and mediology.
"It is McLuhan Studies, Orality-Literacy Studies, American Cultural Studies. It is grammar, and Rhetoric, Semiotics and Systems Theory, along with the history and philosophy of Technology. It is the postindustrial and Postmodern, and the preliterate and prehistoric; and new emerging and the constantly submerging technologies and techniques."
Neil Postman sees Media Ecology as: "Looking into matter of how media of communication affect human perception, understanding, feeling and value; and how interaction with media facilitates or impedes our chances of survival. The word "ecology" implies the study of environments: their structure,content and impact on people.
"An environment is, after all, a complex message system which imposes human beings certain ways of thinking, feeling and behaving. Media Ecology structures what we can see and say and, therefore, do; it assigns roles to us and insists on our playing them; it specifies what we are permitted to do and what we are not.
"Sometimes, as in the case of a courtroom, or classroom, or business office, the specifications are explicit and informal. In the case of media environments, (e.g., books, radio TV, Internet and so forth), the specifications are more often implicit and informal, half concealed by our assumption that what we are is not an environment but merely a machine. Media Ecology tries to make these specifications explicit.
"It tries to find out what roles media force us to play, how media structure what we are seeing, and why media makes us feel the way we do. Media Ecology is the study of media as 'environments.' It is studying these environments that we begin to understand communication and reality, and reality as communication that we look into the real reality, or is reality really real? How real is real as we begin to understand our media infected and saturated media environment.
"Communications also creates reality, because reality is what is, real, and, communication is merely a way of expressing or expanding it. Traditional ideas of reality are delusions which we spend substantial parts of our daily live shoring up, even at the considerable risk of trying to force facts to fit our definition of reality instead of vice versa. The most dangerous delusion of all is that there is only one reality.
"There are many types of reality, some are contradictory, but all are the results of communication, and not reflections of eternal and objective truths. If we have something acting as an external influence to our inner being and what we perceive as our sole reality, we change our core values and reality, by mixing them with whatever affects us as an outside influence. The technology we are imbibing today acts as an external effect and it changes our perception of the world and reality prior to that effect.
"On the other hand, if we wish to know about the technology and society, and in order to remain within the limits of what can be known, we must be content to understand and study our relation of Technology, Technique and Society; i.e., how Technology affects the Web, and in the process how the Web sucks our time and life, should then make us pay close attention as to how modern technology embedded in our gadgets is affecting how we behave, think and act in our day to day life.
"We need to pay close attention of our usage of Media and technology, i.e., how this has affected us as a society, and the affects and effects of our relationship with the new technology and technique impacting and imposing itself on us, how these act anew and develop in us new ways of knowing what is reality or not, which have the advantage of being meaningful and real, or might lead to our enslavement.
"Either technology's technique is really creating a greater dependence on our part on its efficiency or maybe we are unwittingly allowing ourselves, through this dependency, are are being enslaved to a false reality by the new technological gadgets and the reality they bring along with them.
"The preponderance of different machines and their varied uses is creating a dependence on them, and this is leading us to being enslaved by our over-dependence on technology , and less on our individual ingenuity. If this is real, it has already begun and is affecting us, and if it's unreal, signs are that it makes real unreal because it is festooned with the pulse and blip, glitz and blitz of modern technologies and gadgets. Maybe the media and its technologies will help us reach an amicable compromises and tolerance in trying to understand each others reality, maybe not.
"The close connection between reality and communications and communications systems is a relatively new idea. Although physicists and engineers long ago solved the problems of transmitting signals effectively, and although linguists have for centuries been engaged in exploring the origin and structure of language, and semantics and have been delving into the meanings of signs and symbols, the pragmatics of communication.
"That is, the ways in which people can drive each other crazy and the very different world views that can arise as a consequence of communications.
"The belief that one's own view of reality is the only reality is the most dangerous of all delusions.It becomes still more dangerous if it is coupled with a missionary zeal to enlighten the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world wishes to be enlightened or not. to refuse to embrace wholeheartedly a particular definition of reality (e.g. an ideology), to dare to see the world differently, can become a "think crime" in an Orwellian sense."
Media Empowers Ignorance and the Cultural Ways of Knowing
One other way to view this reality is the assertion that war is peace. For instance, the war in Afghanistan is waged against those Alqaeda operatives who are still holed-up in the Mountains of Afghanistan and using Pakistan to carry out their devious, that, and us going into both countries to flush them out and suppress militant elements of the Taliban will bring us peace and stability.
But George Orwell says that, "War, however, is no longer the desperate, annihilating struggle that it was in the early decades of the twentieth century. It was a warfare of limited aims between combatants who are unable to destroy one another, have no material cause for fighting, and are not divided by any genuine ideological difference. This is not to say that either the conduct of war, or the prevailing attitude toward it, has become bloodthirsty or even more chivalrous.
"On the contrary, war hysteria is continuous and universal in all countries, and such acts as raping, looting, the slaughter of children, the reduction of whole populations to slavery, and reprisals against prisoners which even extend even to boiling and burying alive, are looked upon as normal, and, when committed by one's own side and not by the enemy, are meritorious.
"The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence in the long run, too intelligent.
"Even when weapons of war are not actually destroyed, their manufacture is still a convenient way of expending labor power without producing anything that can be consumed." (Orwell)
In the past, war was also one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical. All rulers of all ages have tried to impose a false view of he world upon their followers, but they could not afford to encourage any illusion that tended to impair military efficiency. Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. So it seems like the ignorance is strength, and then how real is real?
Our Media environment today is like a modern Theme Park. The different representative media and communication systems present a false sense of being free, liberated and having various forms of expression and projection. We have become deeply immersed in the participating in watching TV, different channels News, Sports, Shopping, Movies, Commercials-with advertisers spending fortunes slicing, dicing chopping, and crunching the numbers and getting all the bits of information about who is watching and information about the viewers.
Rushkoff states: "Having been raised on a diet of media manipulation, we are all becoming aware of the ingredients that go into these machinations. Children raised hearing and speaking a language always understand it better than adults who attempt to learn its rule. This is why, educators believe our kids understand computers and their programming languages better than the people who designed them.
"Likewise, people weaned on media, understand its symbols better than its creators and see through the carefully camouflaged attempts at mind control. And now Americans feel free to talk back to their TV sets with their mouths, their remote controls, their joysticks, their telephones/cells,and even their dollars."
"Television has become an interactive media" - This can be witnessed during Obama's election during the Presidential Primaries, wherein talking heads on TV would propound their theories, rhetoric and ideology about the outcome of certain primaries, and to their dismay, the Polls always seem to answer them in the negative about the self-same issues and then some.
On some level, we are capable of negating and controlling the media in a given way, at the same time we are thoroughly immersed in an environment that is built driven by the technological gadgets, machinery and language manipulated through media talking points and advertisement(seduced subliminally), polls, and various other programming. The whole point of TV in America and elsewhere is to get you to watch so that programmers, performers an others can rake in the money and manipulate consent.
When people log onto a computer terminals, they are welcomed into a vast world of information that is now revolutionizing how we learn and work. The World Wide Web of computer connections is information explosion the likes of which we have never seen. This information revolution now rivals the printing press and broadcasting in terms of how it affects our daily lives.
The evolving telecommunications infrastructure, now popularly known as the Internet, links homes, businesses, schools, hospitals, libraries, cell phones and the worked, to each other and to a vast array of electronic information resources. People all over the globe are able to tap into computer databases elsewhere more easily than walking down to the local library.
This has changed our relationship to information gathering and consuming in todays world. People can shop and order goods,ing formation, order movies online or TV; have video conferencing, talk with each and see each other; the environment is stimulative with neon signs and digital informercials.
On the net the pop-ups and blinking and glitzing ads, incoming e-mails, twittering, texting, blogging, and many other activities comprise an environment controlled and dictated to by technopoly. A Technicized environment confined within the Internet where one surfs to chat rooms and so forth, is an environment of semi-annonimity adding up to the new ways of consuming and using technology in a global milieu
The other problem the Internet presents is that it is growing faster than we can grasp, document or make conform to our civilizing sensibilities. Developed as a decentralized web, it has evolved into a complex, capable of feedback and iteration in a scale unfathomable. The internet is so vast that it is potentially modifying everything it contacts and is completely changing the media and communication landscape and data sphere.
The Media ecology is changing very fast. What we get from the environment within which the media operates are new ways to communicating(twittering, blogging, e-mailing, texting and book publishing), we have 'conferences," 'topic,' chat rooms', we post 'response, 'individual posts called 'articles', movies, television, face books, porno, and so forth. This is now known as cyber space. Rheingold explains thus: "... biological imagery is often more appropriate to describe the way cyberculture changes.
"In terms of the way the whole system is propagating and evolving, think of cyberspace as a social Petrie dish, the net as the agar-medium, and virtual communities, in all their diversity, as the colonies of microorganisms that grow in the Petrie dishes". Media ecology, as we know it, has converged within the Internet and it directs the totality of our media consciousness and environment, consumption and interaction.
"This system has its lewd and dark sides. It is also used for anti-social and deviant behavior, and many troubling usages which we will not go into here. Evidently the Ecology of the media has taken on a serious turn in the media landscape and data world; Its like being instantly anywhere, anytime, anyhow within and around the reality of the present media ecology. It is real because it is, but ways of knowing how to use it to communicate, have diverse means and ways of how disseminate articulate and promote communication"
Is Real Really Real?
How real is real? This was the question we posed and mentioned above. As we said, reality is what is, and communication is merely a way of expressing a way of expressing or expanding it. The old ways through which we imbibed the media have been transformed by the new technologies and their way of presenting and projecting themselves. We have changed from the printing press, to the radio and television and VCRs to Computers, Internet and cyber space combining new cell phones and other gadgets in convergence.
The environment of the media in presenting what's real has afforded and is being taken over by cyberculture. The ways of viewing have become more interactive and user adaptable. The reality of the past ways of knowing and using the media and communication apparatuses, has been taken over by the connectivity of the Internet, similar to the nervous system plied throughout our bodies.
The different media outlets and their function are all found on the net,Radio, TV, Newspapers,etc., which has now become a monolithic colossus and time and space-grabbing automated technique that the technological society that we live in is becoming enveloped into the web, so that, we are now almost a Webbed society locally, regionally and globally. The reality is that this is how the present environment functions, in a nutshell, and it is unreal because mad become welded and wedded to a machine to be in and with the world.
Is there a possibility that the media, in the form of the Internet can free us? The media or Internet, during the Obama Presidential primaries offered us a glimpse into this issue, whereby cyber participants proved that the media in it's present day format, can truly contribute towards loosening the grip technologies and media presentation and projection in the past had on us-where we were the silent viewing majority, to a chatter and interactive mass: remember Tienamen Square, Iran, Youtube and so on.
Mass media environment might end up being viewed, understood, consumed through the lens of Internet or the Web. There is already the case and it is the effects of this behavior we exhibit that will be investigated and analyzed in the Future. Media Ecology in a Technological Society is really real because it has morphed into the web-newspapers, radio and television, publishing and the whole bit.
We now have a one-stop-shop technological media environment where we can meet and satisfy our craving for media and its concomitants; at the same time we are slowly being weaned away from the old media and some of us are playing catch-up, at the same time technologies and the Web are head-off in a myriad directions, elongating, changing and presenting newer challenges in our present day Technological Societies.
Communications is consistently and constantly changing, reshaping and creating our reality at a furious pace, and we are merely playing keep-up. If Technology and the Web do not rule us yet, they will, in the very near future, dictate and design, influence and change our world as we know it permanently.
If our world is constantly changing and evolving, and tech-gadgets are churned out at a rapid pace, how then does our changing reality ever become real? As we go into the 21 century, it would be interesting to see how our reality, which is now, more than ever never constant, will present us with a constant reality, given the changing, emerging and converging technologies .
Marshall McLuhan in the section on "the medium is the message" points out that any technology gradually creates a totally new human environment. In trying to understand the media, McLuhan sys that data classification yields to pattern recognition, like when data move instantly, classification is too fragmentary.
McLuhan observes that in order to cope with data at electric speed in typical situations of "information overload"(as in the case of the Internet), men resort to the study of configurations. Marshall gives an example like the drop out situation in our schools today is only developing because the young students today grows up in an electronically configured world. McLuhan states that it is not a world of wheels but of circuits, not of fragments but of integral patterns.
"The student today," McLuhan observes, "lives mythically and in depth; at school, however, he encounters a situation organized by means of classified information. The subjects are unrelated and they are visually conceived in terms of a blueprint.
"The student can find no possible means of involvement fro himself, nor can he discover hoe the educational scene relates to the 'mythic' world of electronically processed data and experience that he takes for granted. The medium is the message means, in term of the electronic age, that a totally new environment has been created.
"As our proliferating technologies have created a whole series of new environment, we are aware that these provide us with the means of perceiving the environment itself. As we can all see, todays' technologies and their consequent environments succeed each other so rapidly that one environment makes us aware of the next. Technologies begin to perform the function of art in making us aware of the psychic and social consequences of technology."(McLuhan)
It is then a wonder if whether we will be able to know how real is real if our minds and lives are technologically determined, rather than determined by human ingenuity and the natural processes of human control and manipulation.
Edmund Bacon said that, "We are now entering the new age of education that is programmed for discovery rather than instruction. As the means of input increase, so does the need for insight or pattern recognition. In our trying to recognize the real reality in communication, we turn to another school of though that is of the opinion that since technology is an integral part of the social process, judgement must be postponed until the whole social structure is evaluated. Technology, this view says, is simply another factor in social change, among others.
"In any event, runs the argument, technology alone is at best, a rough index of social change. Society is constantly changing and diverse ingredients and properties contribute their fair share in a proportion commensurate with the capacities, ambitions and influence. Most societies are like this and adjustments accompany the introduction of new products and inventions.
"Indeed, the value of a new product is dependent on the ability of people to recognize a need for it. That alone tells us something about mental attitudes towards receptability/repeatability of new things. For instance, the wheel came at a time when the mental disposition to new ideas generated its own demand for them. This is why technology poses no insuperable problem to a society in which it is introduced, whether it comes form outside or from within."
Plapax is a collective of artist comprised of media artist group minim++, who have shown such poetic installations as objects made from various commodities, the shadows of which turn into animated images of animals or airplanes, and a central member Yasuaki Kakehi, who has been exploring innovative media technology that stimulates interaction and communication to expand the natures and functions of objects, and human body, producing, among others, works in which viewers/users play hockey against their own mirror images.
The group creates works based on immediate yet intangible elements such as shadows, smells, footprints or voices, or constructed on such themes as "evidence of existence." While utilizing digital technology, the artists place importance on the aspect of touching and holding things, which has made them popular around the world among children and adult alike.