We are starting to realise that everything in science and the social is indeed connected and this is resulting in the advent of ‘compound disciplines’ or mega disciplines. Media Ecology is a new mega discipline which studies the complex communication systems as if they were environments.
A Mega-discipline is where the boundaries of other disciplines overlap and merge into one. Leading to the realization that everything in media, society and culture intersects leading to influence and change radiating from one to the other.
The idea of looking at media as ecologies is a step above the consideration of technological networks; it paints a picture of viewing not only at the working nodes of an assemblage but at the bacteria’s that facilitate growth and generate content. In the case of media we could consider it is metadata that is the DNA of the organism. Rawlings commented on the interesting use of biological terminology in relation to this topic (Rawlings, 2011).
Lance Strate said that technology and techniques, modes of communication and codes of communication play a role that is paramount to modern human life. The idea means asking specific questions about how interactions between communication, media, technology and technic impact processes of human feeling, thought, value and behaviour leading to changes in culture (Nystrom, 1973).
For example, the idea that the internet is ruining people’s minds by reducing their ability to retain information due to the endless archiving. Also, the destruction of attention spans because of endless distractions and the availability of instant gratification.
This notion of media as an ecology is still in its early stages and thus there is no framework for considering or tying together all of the subject matter and the subsequent questions that follow. There lacks a method to this dilemma and it seems the process of collecting qualitative and quantitative, social and media based data is continuing in an unorganised way (Nystrom, 1973).
We are in the process of looking at the changes that are occurring and asking how this will change our human processes fundamentally. The below mind map is a very basic starting point when beginning to look at a media ecology.
These questions lead to further questions about the influence of media on individuals’ behaviours and the manipulation of such leading to the historical and modern day phenomena of propaganda in society.
One idealistic way of looking at this concept was composed by the French philosopher Felix Guattari. He focused on three main aspects, the mind, society and the environment in his ‘Ecosophical Model.’ It attempts to propose a framework in which to understand how media, society and culture transverse.
A characteristic of ‘media ecology’ is the realization of unification at every level of reality, yet almost paradoxically highlighting the extreme and intricate uniquities and differences at all levels.
By recognising the interconnections we can see clearly the “commons on which we are all mutually dependant.” (Anon, 2008) Proposing that social change or ‘revolution’ is not confined to governmental level political shifts.
In The Three Ecologies, Guattari suggests the solutions to modern day issues which span across the three ecologies of mind, society and our environment already have solutions.
Pressing social issues like, “mental health disorders… failed states run by competing warlords… and the ecological crises… of global warming and natural resource depletion” (Anon, 2008) can be changed with a change in entry point to the problems inner workings.
Guattari said, “Now more than ever, nature cannot be separated from culture; in order to comprehend the interactions between ecosystems” (Anon, 2008). The idea of decentralizing power, restructuring societal models and steering away from monetary indications of national success is a nice idea but realistically a long way off, if possible at all.
Media Ecology Association ‘What is Media Ecology,’ Available: http://www.mediaecology.org/media_ecology/
Anon. (2008) ‘The Three Ecologies – Felix Guattari’, Media Ecologies and
Digital Activism: thoughts about change for a changing wordl. Available:
Rawlings, Thomas (2011) ‘Games as a Happening, as a Service’ A Great Becoming. Available: http:// agreatbecoming.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/games-as-a-happening-as-a-servicenotes-from-my-talk-at-goldsmiths/