Marshall McLuhan discussed how the content presented in new media types is set to distract us, “the [content] as a juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg. 1)
McLuhan says that the content is only there so we miss the structural changes new media’s make to ‘us.’ In sociology it’s said to be impossible to understand the differences of one culture from another unless you remain disconnected and outside it whilst attempting to study it.
Like the way we structure our day around the TV and the discussion surrounding popular programs like ‘the Block’ or ‘Masterchef.’ Neither can we function without a mobile phone without feeling literally disconnected socially.
I think we must try to understand that with the introduction of new Medias and technologies that engulf our attention, comes significant changes that trickle down to our most basic interactions of human existence.
With the above examples of TV and the mobile, it is clear that when an individual is not engaged with one or both it has the effect of impacting their feelings of connectedness and inclusion at a social level.
“The subtitle of understanding media was the extensions of man and his vision was of technological innovations as human prostheses.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg. 1)
In the reading, ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the Machine’ he likens media and technologies to prostheses. As if we are surely handicapped without them, imagine a man with a prosthetic leg, now imagine him trying to live without one. He would lose speed and ease in daily tasks and would be noticed as missing a body part.
We are so excited by the apparent features and benefits of these media’s and technologies that we don’t even notice that traditional ways of doing things are being forgotten. Old processes which require a specific skillset are lost to short cuts, for example, I just got a new Thermochef, and this is a kitchen appliance which chops, measures and cooks your meal for you.
It is marketed as the ultimate time saver and speedy cooker. Now I’m certainly no Masterchef, I once cut myself so badly WASHING UP that I required twelve stitches, but there are people who have great culinary skills. Say goodbye to julienning, Allumette and Brunoise oh my!
The Amish are a culture who refused innovation and technologies. You only have to grasp their basic values in life to see the difference when comparing to our modern culture. The following link lists the key values and outlines the differences between the current trends and a culture free from technology.
Jeffries says our culture and societies are shaped to reflect our technologies. Yet media content, mediums and technological gadgets are produced to help humans live. It is developed for us –the consumer- with a use in mind, to juggle, to handle the speed of life today. Yet it then begs the question, which came first? The chicken or the egg?
Theorists differ in this stance and I personally think we, as a society, play leap frog with our own progresses. We create, and then we adapt and morph as we begin to see new possibilities or improvements for the same technologies.
I get caught up with wanting to predict the future of this race we run with technology. Paul Virilio believed in technology contributing to decreased freedoms. “It has become clear that real wars are fought not for people or fatherlands, but take the place between different media, information technologies, data flows.” (Jeffries, 2011, Pg.2)
Having studied George Orwell’s ‘Nineteen Eighty Four’ during the HSC, can envision such a pessimistic view of the future especially when I read about new ‘drone cameras’ being tested for use in the NSW police force and a GPS tracker in every phone.
In previous studies we have looked at the notion of networks and assemblages to describe the way in which the internet, divisions and parts of society function side by side.
When we interject culture and media into the mix, Machinic, is a good way to describe the way certain processes are mediated, organised, controlled and siphoned off. Machinic includes everything, like a circuit board which controls the flow of electricity.
Jeffries, Stuart (2011) ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the machine’, The Guardian. Available: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/28/friedrichkittler-rise-of-the-machine
Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2003) ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38