The Medium is the Message…and the Prevailing Medium is Mobile Media
In my previous post, I examined if Mobile Media shaped us. I discussed how It appears we are at a point in our technological growth has outpaced our ability to exercise restraint and information decimation trumps the movement to see everyone as equals and I also discussed how Mobile Media is shaping us as a society. We are truly growing our society towards the prevailing theme of McLuhan’s philosophy; “The Medium is the Message”. Huge media outlet have embraced the Mobile Media movement; CBS realized the need for their business model to change and constructed a website in order to offer what the general public needed in order to view their programs on laptops, cell phones and on desk top computers. As technology advances, it becomes apparent the new media is more of a message about our society and the direction it is headed, than what we utilize its capabilities for. We have discussed this during our classes and in a few of our class material articles; however it has also been address in a few movies. The films Wall-E and Surrogates are just two examples of Hollywood taking on our reliance of technology. The general public uses it as a way to communicate; companies use it as a way to sell items and ideas.
Major networks have come up with a way to track our television viewing choices by using Nielsen; however Nielsen has recently changed their tracking concentration. In 2008 Nielson decided to execute an attempt to grow with our new trend in how we watch over the air broadcast.
“After much evaluation of national data, we discovered that more than 90% of the business in the 2007 national upfront [advertising marketplace] was conducted on what is referred to as ‘C3’ or live plus three day average commercial minute ratings,” Nielsen Senior Vice President-Managing Director Local Television Client Services Kevin Svenningsen said in a letter sent to local station and agency clients on Friday. “During this time we also began receiving requests from local clients to adopt a measurement stream that was closer to the national standard.”[i]
What Nielsen’s “live plus three” tracking system tracks are the ratings from the time a show goes live to when someone streams it on their Tivo or other recording devices. Advertisers are trying to adjust to the changing market. This shift or change in the approach advertisers are willing to take in order to reach the viewing public. This change in Nielsen’s approach is a huge step in the Diffusion process.
“Typically, a few actors are the first or early adopters; the success of the innovation often depends on their social status or influence. Other members of the group, who are either directly acquainted with or share similar interests with the early adopters, may be persuaded to adopt the innovation, and they in turn influence others. Successive waves of adoption continue until the innovation reaches a saturation point or ceiling that varies depending on the characteristics of the innovation and the social system.”[ii]
The higher echelon of the educational system and government entities originally used the internet out of necessity and to flex their technology muscle. The first wave of the internet was called the ARPANET.
The physical construction of the ARPANET occurred in 1968 and it used the Honeywell minicomputer for its base. In fact, it took a network of 4 Honeywell minicomputers to create the first ARPANET, these computers or nodes were located at four separate universities including: the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of California at Los Angeles, SRI at Stanford and the University of Utah.[iii]
This eventually spread out to the general public and businesses. Unfortunately when businesses began using the web, television studios began airing their shows online for on demand streaming. Numerous television shows received cancellation notices due to the drop in live viewers as a result to Tivo and online viewing options. The quality of the show and the support of the non-live watching fans did ultimately did not save the doomed shows. Advertisers and rating collectors finally accepting the internet avenue to reach the general public is essentially the final step needed for saturation. As this media comes to the height or final stage of its life cycle (it all depends on whose theory you believe in), the question Hollywood is trying to ask is “how far are we going to take it”.
The film Surrogates, directed by John Mostow, is a science fiction film telling the tale of how robots are stronger, faster, and more durable than the human body will ever evolve to become; however there is another story the film is attempting to tell. In the world portrayed in this film the technology we know today and use to send out a virtual representation of ourselves out into a digital word to live lives we often wish we could experience personally, evolves into the virtual version of ourselves living in the real world for us in the future. We now can send out our ideal representation into the real world and meet, mate and work with other ideal representations of ourselves. In the film, the case appears to be that the whole world is using surrogates after legislation was passed to allow the general public to use it. With this type of technology it is proven that crime rates have dropped, and communicable disease decreased. The media glorified these findings in news reports. What is the negative implication a future as it is portrayed in the film “Surrogates”? In the scenario presented in this film, the Diffusion process would essentially end up completely replaced by Technological determination.
“Technological determinism has been a prominent theme in accounts of modernity and social progress; the idea is neatly captured in the motto of the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair: ‘Science Finds – Industry Applies – Man Conforms’ (Rydell, 1993: 98-9).” [iv]
Under the indirect control of the creators of the “Surrogates” program, society as a whole would end up living life vicariously through electronic representatives. “Wall-E” has a similar view in which humans no longer interact with each other directly, they instead sit in moving chairs and talk to each other through video and online chat. No longer will the individual members of the human race make their own decisions; Technological determination is the way of life Hollywood portrays in order to warn us. These are two movies provide examples of Technological determination allowing the map to overtake (and even merge with) reality;
“We-all of us- are like the prisoners (in the Allegory of the Cave), for we often mistakenly suppose that the reality in which we live is the truest and highest reality there is. According to Plato, all we actually experience at the level of reality available through our five senses are poor imitations of a higher level of reality, the Forms”. [v]
By the rational provided the surrogate operators and the humans in Wall-E only experience a fraction of life and viewing it as elevated reality. Is it possible our thirst for knowledge can morph into drowning our human essence? Our current technology trail blazers could be guilty of not projecting into the future to view where our break through discoveries can lead to.
“.. there is something that most everyone overlooks when thinking about the effect of new media technologies. When a new medium is developed, the older media become the content of the new medium. Thus, most everyone concentrates on the old media as content while ignoring or overlooking the amplifying effects of the newer medium.”[vi]
Although McLuhan’s theory has been largely contested, it has been praised with the same vigor. Current media experts have begun speaking out in favor of his theories (the same way Hollywood is, but with negative connotations in order to increase movie ticket sales).
“Levinson (1999) argues that McLuhan’s work is even more relevant today, given the encompassing nature and extended scope of new media in general and the internet specifically.”[vii]
With the never ending possibilities of the internet; us living in a world with representatives interacting, working and playing for us is not too far off. Should that path actually come to pass, McLuhan’s second message of the “Medium is the Massage” will become the prevailing belief. When McLuhan says the “Medium is the Massage”, he is stating the media medium massages our conscious and shapes how we think and view the world. A number of the media live cycle and media theories believe we could end up in a world where machines and the media controls our way of thinking.
With the recent advancements in tracking our media habits, the warnings from Hollywood, the consistent validation of McLuhan’s theory, and recent advancements in technology, should we really stop and take a look into the future to see if the advancements we made actually set human thought back? Could the extension of our minds (computer memory) cause us to not exercise our memory muscle? Can you remember your parents’ phone number? Can our over use of the computer and television screen (which is the extension of our eyes) actually destroy our natural eye sight? Can we really replace ourselves with representatives or “maps” of ourselves with machines? According to this article and video you can.
What you’re looking at above is Actroid-F, Kokoro Co. Ltd. and ATR’s latest iteration of the creepy humanoid robot that can mime the operator’s facial expressions and head movements with unbelievable (but not quite human) accuracy. Her current job is to act as “as an observer in hospitals to gauge patient reactions.” We guess that’s one way to get around euthanasia laws.[viii]
We can only continue to educate the public as to the dangers of over reliance on media and technology. With our behavior being tracked for television purposes, and web site traffic reporting, we could very well transition into the world where our behavior is determined by the technology we use and the media we view. The tools are in place and the players are in position. Right now the prevailing theory of McLuhan’s is “The Medium is the Message”, we are not too far away from “The Medium is the Massage”, matter if fact we are not too far from the world of Wall-E due to our reliance on Mobile Media. Most of our game model encouraged person to person contact simply because we forgot how to meet with one another face to face. We can use or Mobile Media or new media to simulate a date; but we cannot score one face to face without the use of dating sites. We use Mobile Media to get us no where fast.
Barry Vacker, “13 Questions,” in Media Environments (Barry Vacker, ed.), San Diego: Cognella, 2011, pp. 9
Douglas Kellner, “Media Spectacle,” in Media Environments (Barry Vacker, ed.), San Diego: Cognella, 2011, pp. 107-108
William Irwin, “The Matrix and Philosophy,” in Media Environments (Barry Vacker, ed.), San Diego: Cognella, 2011, pp. 125-126
Thomas Ricker, “Actroid-F: the angel of death robot coming to a hospital near you” Engadget.com pulled from http://www.engadget.com/2010/10/27/actroid-f-the-angel-of-death-robot-coming-to-a-hospital-near-yo/?ref=nf on November 19, 2010
Joe Mandese , “Nielsen Eyes ‘Live’ Plus 3-Day Local TV Ratings, Move To Closer Standard With National” in Media Daily News, pulled from www.mediapost.com on November 17, 2010 http://www.mediapost.com/publications/?fa=Articles.showArticle&art_aid=74233
“Handbook of New Media” Social Shaping and Social Consequences of ICTs (LEAH A. L1EVROUW and SONIA LIVINGSTONE, ed) SAGE Publications
Sam Lehman-Wilzig and Nava Cohen-Avigdor,” The natural life cycle of new media evolution: Inter-media struggle for survival in the internet age” New Media Society
Unknown Author, “History of the Internet”, History of Things.com
[i]Nielsen Eyes ‘Live’ Plus 3-Day Local TV Ratings, Move To Closer Standard With National
[ii] ” Social Shaping and Social Consequences of ICTs
[iii] History of the Internet
[iv] ” Social Shaping and Social Consequences of ICTs
[v] The Matrix and Philosophy
[vi] 13 Questions
[vii] The natural life cycle of new media evolution: Inter-media struggle for survival in the internet age
[viii] -F: the angel of death robot coming to a hospital near you
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Originally posted. July 28, 2013