There’s no escape from it, media in all their forms permeate every nook and cranny of our culture. This has been going on for a very, very long time, arguably going back to the origin of speech if not music which long preceded speech as an important form of both expression and communication (my sense is it first came to be for purposes of communication, i.e., survival).
While there’s an inexhaustible supply of content both in terms of media themselves, and analyses about what they are, where they came from, where they’re going … one book stands out in my mind, which is the first one noted in the list below. I read Marshall McLuhan’s Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man in the early 1990’s. It was one of those pivotal moments where reading it felt as if multiple hand grenades went off in my mind, as I saw the purpose and evolution of media through a completely new lens. While McLuhan provides many insights, the one that stands out to this day is that when a new medium emerges, it subsumes/incorporates all the previous types of media – taking this new agglomeration to new frontiers of expression (a terrible paraphrase, given I read the book 25 years ago, but you get the gist).
Here’s our discussion starter list:
- Book: Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man – Marshall McLuhan (the most important book I ever read on the topic), and if you’re looking for an updated perspective: McLuhan in an Age of Social Media Kindle Edition – Paul Levinson.
- Book: Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now – Jaron Lanier
- Book: The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains – Nicholas Carr. A book that is based on this article: Is Google Making Us Stupid – The Atlantic.
- Book: Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age – Sherry Turkle
- Article: 6 ways social media is changing the world – World Economic Forum
- Article: 5 People Dead in Shooting at Maryland’s Capital Gazette Newsroom – NY Times – Sad/terrifying account of media impact gone awry, note facial recognition technology identified the shooter.
- Article: The Impact of Media: Good, Bad or Somewhere In Between – Careers in Psychology web site.
- Report: Paths to our Digital Future – Internet Society – 8-page version, full 120-page report
- Report: Digital Media and Society Implications in a Hyperconnected Era – World Economic Forum (64 pages).
- Important Laws (U.S.): Communications Act of 1934, Telecommunications Act of 1996.