Technology and Media

By J. Richard Stevens, Ph.D.

A presentation to Michael Tracy's Contemporary Mass Media class, November 5, 2009.


Considering Periods of Transition

Periods of Transition (Western Media)

  • Media Transformation #1: Oral to written culture (Socrates to Aristotle and Plato)
  • Media Transformation #2: Written to Print (The birth of Mass Culture)
  • Media Transformation #3: Analog to Digital (The birth of Network Culture)


Considering Adoption/Diffusion


Considering the language differences between encoding platforms.

  • Oral – contextual conversation, collaborative output
  • Written – isolated text, individual interpretation
  • Mass Production – reduction of complexity, uneven diffusion of meaning
  • Network Dissemination – reconceptualized text created for parallel contextual conversations, collaborative output  

Understanding Digital Language/Culture

Analog - comprised of continuous variable information (wavelength)

Digital - comprised of discrete units (on/off)


Examining Our Terminology

Media Defined

me-dia (Latin,"the space between," "the substance between")

Advertising Defined

ad-ver-tis-ing (Middle English, "the action of calling something to attention")

Journalism Defined

JOUR-nalism (French, "the accounting of the day")

JOURNALism ("the act of recording the events of the day")

Journalism (the post-1920s industry that serves the social function of surveillance, watchdog of the government and corporate institutions and the primary interface between citizen and society)

"The news of the day as it reaches the newspaper office is an incredible medley of fact, propaganda, rumor, suspicion, clues, hopes, and fears, and the task of selecting and ordering that news is one of the truly sacred and priestly offices in a democracy." Walter Lippmann, Liberty and the News, 1920


Citizens in the right place ...

The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog

Knights for Free Water (facebook)

Virginia Tech Journalism Student Jamal Albarghouti

Advantages of Multimedia - CONTEXT

El Mundo’s coverage of the Spanish train bombing

The New York Times’ Tsunami coverage

Map Mashups

New York in the Movies

GawkerStalker Mashup

AP Mashup


Presenting Data

Is it better to buy or rent? (NYT)

Can a President tame the business cycle?

Faces of the Dead (NYT)

Bad Context Example

Word Associations

Election reaction (NYT)

Reader response analysis of Obama Administration (NYT)

Inaugural words (NYT)

"News you can use"

Battle of the Bags (MSNBC)

Seattle Transportation grid (Seattle Post-Intelligencier)


Read My Lips (Mashup Commentary)

Challenge of the SuperDuperFriends

Sunday Bloody Sunday by George W. Bush

Hillary's Baggage

Obama Girl - “I Got a Crush ... On Obama!”

The Future?

History Commons 9/11 Timeline Mashup

The Annotated New York Times

OhMyNews! (South Korea)

Uganda Witness

Student projects