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Psalm 144:4 Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.

Tag Archives: communication

Message & Media (part 5) – Postmodern Trends

The current trend in our postmodern culture is toward image based communication.

Just think about any major company or product. Most of them don’t show the whole name of the company, they either have a few letters or just a logo – an image, see the image below as an example. Most major brands we can identify by their logo or first letter due to the font / style.

corporation-logos

However, in this prevailing image culture, this changes our thinking, images aren’t good at articulating arguments, categories or abstract ideas. They present concrete realities (regardless of how much they have been airbrushed!)

Images can speak louder than words

The Words ‘Poverty’s Child’ are Propositional & Sequential, Rational and linear (L brain), It is Abstraction without Experience.
The picture below is Presentational & Holistic, It is Intuitive & Non-linear (R brain), It shows us a Concrete representation of experience.

poverty

Another example would be the new (imported) concept in UK of the televised political debate. – The local government candidates are voted upon not on their merits or policy pledges, but more on how well the leader of their party – broadly not voted for directly by the voter – comes across as a public debater & arguer! It’s becoming a subjective, intuitive evaluation of the image we see of the person as opposed to careful, left-brain analysis and evaluation of what they are putting across.

I believe in the future, this will be remembered the age of electronic culture, the age of the image and of technology. The overwhealming likelihood is that the display screen will become the ultimate relic of the electronic age. We can’t get away from them, they invade our homes, cars, pockets. We are addicted to the flickering pixels of the backlit or projected computer display screen.

So, what are the lasting effects of electronic culture?

Lets examine it with the McLuhan analysis tool.

What does electronic culture enhance?

Intensifies ‘right brain’ encounter with God, encourages a corporate approach to faith, increases reliance on intuition and experience in ‘knowing God’

What does electronic culture reverse into?

Relativism, reverses capacity for abstract thought and critical reasoning.

What does electronic culture retrieve?

Eastern orthodox & Catholic spirituality – contemplative icons & the ‘story’ aspect of the Gospel. Jesus’ centrality to faith.

What does electronic culture obsolesce?

Belief in metanarrative, belief in conversion being a one-time event, the role of abstract propositional faith and the full impact of Paul’s letters.

Clearly here we are not saying that electronic culture removes completely the impact of Paul’s letters, more that it changes our perception of the meaning / use / importance of the letters.

I believe that culture and the way people receive messages is changing, the trend from the onset of modernity – the age of the printing press – was from an experiential, visual, communal, holistic model to an individualistic, highly rational concept of the gospel. With the continual march into and through post-modernity, we are seeing the trend reverse towards a much more communal, experiential concept again.

How do we feel about the possibility of our methods and thus our message changing due to this paradime shift in thinking as a result of the postmodern, image-based, electronic, technological culture in which we are living and our children are growing up accustomed to?

Comments on the above question please!

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Message & Media (part 3) – McLuhan

The Medium is the Message
Marshall McLuhan

Technology is not simply a conduit or pipeline – a neutral purveyor of information, but a dynamic force with the power to shape and change us regardless of content.

To avoid being consumed by it or left behind by it, we need to study the action of the technological whirlpool and navigate and harness it to our own ends by cooperating with it.
To shun it completely or embrace it openly without understanding it could have disastrous and unexpected effects.

So, we need to ask ourselves some questions when we start to make choices about what media we want to use.

What does it extend / enhance?
What does it reverse into?
What does it retrieve?
What does it obsolesce?

What does it extend / enhance?
Every new form of technology enhances something of our humanity or extends an older form of technology. To understand media properly, we must understand that all media is an extension of humanity.

The wheel extends function of the foot.
The telephone extends function of the voice and the ear.
The telescope / Binoculars extend function of the eye.

What does it obsolesce?
Any new medium makes an older medium obsolete, maybe not necessarily disappearing but function changing. For example, the car makes the horse & cart obsolete, but that merely transforms the horse & cart into a recreational, romantic or entertainment vehicle.

What does it reverse into?
When pushed to its extreme, every medium will reverse into its opposite intention, a good example being the car: originally intended to increase transportation speed, when pushed to its extreme, reverses into traffic jams and fatal accidents. This is the most difficult law to predict or anticipate

What does it retrieve?
Each new form of technology retrieves an experience or an older form of technology from the past. For example, email retrieves the technology of the telegraph so to understand a little more about the future effects of email, we would do well to study the cultural effects of the telegraph in the 1800s.

Lets use the wheel as an easy example

The Wheel

ENHANCES: Speed of transportation, personal energy saving.
OBSOLESCES: Need to use travel as a form of exercise – leads to obesity? Coach / work horses. Various manual labour with the introduction of the wheel into machinery.
REVERSES INTO: Danger to individuals – Road traffic accidents, societies built round the car like in the USA, reliance on speed of transportation over environmental factors – leading to global warming (debatable).
RETRIEVES: Ability to use something else to do the work for us. (Previous horse)

This is all very well and gives a fairly simple expansion of the effects of the technology of the wheel.

Why not try it on something a little newer – the Mobile Phone.

Here’s where you join in with your comments.

What does the mobile phone extend / enhance?
What does the mobile phone reverse into?
What does the mobile phone retrieve?
What does the mobile phone obsolesce?

Discuss!!

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