Sunday, January 29, 2012

Short Takes on Media Ecology and McLuhan Studies

So, this past November, at the big McLuhan Centenary blowout in Toronto (see my October post about it, McLuhan Then/Now/Next Soon), I met with Emanuela Patti and Matteo Ciastellardi, two European scholars who have recently started up a new journal, the International Journal of McLuhan Studies.  I've provided the link to the journal's website, although there's nothing to see there right now, but I believe there will be something up there soon.

Anyway, they showed me their first issue, which was actually quite colorful and attractive.  Here's their logo, which is pretty cool in its own right:

So, Emanuela and Matteo asked me to join the editorial board of the journal, which I was happy to do, and they also asked it they could interview me on video, which I agreed to as well.  

We wound up doing the interview in a lounge at our hotel after returning one night from that evening's activities, a poetry reading that I had been asked to MC, with open bar, at an art gallery.  When we got back, I was a bit disheveled, tired, slightly inebriated, etc. but I said, let's do it, we may not have a chance later, and I can always find the energy to talk about media ecology, at just about any time.

So, we did the interview, and recently they uploaded four short segments of it to their YouTube channel, Canale di mcluhanstudies, so I figured I'd share them with you here:

Each segment consists of my answer to a question.  The first is What is Media Ecology?:

The second is a question about the relationship between Marshall McLuhan and Media Ecology:

The third is a response to the question, What kind of discipline is Media Ecology?:

And the fourth addresses the question of, What is distinctive about the North American intellectual tradition?

So there you have it, a four-part Q&A, fittingly enough, given that McLuhan's final work on the laws of media is famously referred to as the tetrad.  

So, if these videos enhance your understanding of media ecology at all, or maybe your curiosity about the subject, then perhaps they have also obsolesced a bit of misunderstanding, or confusion, and I would certainly be thrilled if they in any way retrieved a spirit of inquiry, and finally, given that they are videos, it would be truly outstanding if their effects included a flip or reversal into learning more about media ecology by reading what's been written on the subject, by McLuhan, and Postman, and others (maybe even me).


Ari said...

I have been a member of the board of the Finnish Alliance. In one meeting I heard in my own ears, when chairman Heikki Tala told the board that Helsinki District Court was ready to ban our organization! An official had told this threat to our chairman in a meeting in the Ministry for Internal Affairs.

This happened before the New York Times interviewed our chairman and published an article about Finland on December 25, 2005. This article mentioned our organization.

As far as I have understood, president Halonen, Prime Minister Vanhanen and other leading politicians were behind this threat to ban the Finnish Alliance - without any reason!

A government's threat to ban a peaceful organization (because of its opinions) violates the principles of democracy.

Lance Strate said...

well, Ari, this really does not have much to do with my post, so I'm not sure why you left this comment here.

The situation you describe certainly violates the practice of democracy in the United States, where even Nazi and Communist organizations are allowed to exist and express their views. I do understand that many European nations, having more direct experience with anti-democratic forces, are less open to anti-democratic organizations, and actually impose bans on them.

I say this with no intent of putting your organization in that category, as I know nothing about it, beyond its emphasis on Finnish national and cultural identity. As an American, I do favor our approach, but I also recognize that it all depends on the context, in this case the social and cultural context.