Cellphones as an extension of humans

evolution-of-cell-phones-technology

Did you know more people in the world have mobile phones than toilets? It is true. Can you imagine a life without your cellphone? Would you survive without your cellphone? Many of us would think we can’t survive without them. But people in the past were able to live without cellphones why wouldn’t we be able to? Is it because cellphones were created as an extension of humans? Were they changed over time to adjust to humans?

Cellphones have a long history and to explore the connection between cellphones and humans, I have decided to relate it to my parents. The reason why I am choosing my parents is because I believe they can give a relatable story on cellphones. Unlike many people from my generation, my parents did not always had a cellphone. Even when the concept of cellphones existed, they didn’t have the money to afford it. So how did they contact people? They would use public phones and write letters. By the time I was a little kid, my parents had a cellphone. In the beginning, even though cellphones had the capacity of adding contacts, my parent would rarely use it. They still memorized many phone numbers and would dial it manually. Over time, my parents learn to use the basic functions added to a cellphone. The main function they would use is contacts. Now, they didn’t have to memorize that many phone numbers nor carry a small phone book with them. It wasn’t necessary for them. The change from a cellphone to smartphone made my parents’ life easier in terms of carrying extra technology. They still didn’t use their phone fully even though it was a smartphone. They used it to call people, take pictures, record videos, and listen to music. They didn’t have to carry a camera, a video recorder, and a music player anymore. They were satisfied with that for a while. During my senior year in high school, I already had plans on going to a school out of state. Because my parents saw the convenience of FaceTime, they decided to buy an iPad for my mom. The reasoning behind it was for my parents to be able to “see” me while I was in college. During that time, I downloaded an app called WeChat on my mom’s iPad. I told her that she could leave me voice messages since we couldn’t text each other because of language barrier. My mom would use it from time to time. She wasn’t always using it. In contrast, my dad who was in Mexico at the time, started using WeChat too. The difference, he used it 24/7. And that is how cellphones changed for my parents. They went from not using it in the past to now not being able to put down their phone during dinner.

From the beginning until now, cellphones have evolved but those changes complemented our lifestyle. Looking at my parents, the lifestyle they had in the beginning and now are different. They were busy almost the whole day so cellphones weren’t a necessity for them. They were in one place for most of the day and could use the restaurant phone. Now, cellphones are a necessity for them because they travel a lot now. But that is just one case and it doesn’t completely explains how phones are an extension of humans. To further explore the relation of cellphones and humans, we have to look at the history of cellphones.

The very first cellphones that were known as car phones were invented in 1956. They were too big to hold that people had it in their cars. With disputes and upgrades over signals and frequencies by 1971, AT&T became the first company to come up with a system in which modern phones use. In 1973, Motorola invented the first cellphone, the Motorola DynaTAC, which looks similar to present cellphones. The cellphone was invented by Dr. Martin Cooper (Keith). Then by 1983, the phone is upgraded to the DynaTAC 8000x. Although the cellphone is huge compared to our cellphones now a days. It was the first cellphone that was considered small and portable back in the days. The DynaTAC was expensive when it first came out. Only few could afford it and it was only used in the business and sales world. The cellphone quickly became shown in many different media such as movies like Wall Street and television shows like Saved by the Bell. As more upgrades to the phone came along over time, the cellphones became smaller and more portable (Ray).

The appearance of the cellphone has change greatly over time. The DynaTAC was really big. It was like holding a brick. It had the numbers and dial buttons. It didn’t have a screen. It was similar to many house phones nowadays but bigger and without a screen. Then by 1989, the Micro TAC was introduced as a personal telephone. Although it was expensive, it wasn’t just limited to people in the business and sales world. The Micro TAC was a lot smaller compared to the DynaTAC. It had an antenna and flip case to protect the number buttons. The Micro TAC added more buttons to the phone. In pop culture, the Micro TAC was used in the Star Trek series. In 1997, cellphones had a big upgrade with the invention of the internet. The Synergy by Philips Consumer Communications introduced the many other features now seen in our cellphones. It was the first cellphone to have a screen that was “touch screen” and used wireless connection. It used wireless to connect to e-mail, internet, and faxes. It has change the purpose of cellphones by adding new features other than calling. By 2002, texting became a popular thing to do that T-Mobile introduce the Sidekick. The Sidekick has a screen that flip out and a full QWERTY keyboard for faster texting. The Sidekick had features that built the current cellphones. It had apps, games, a camera, and access to the internet. In 2007, the very first iPhone was introduced to the market. The iPhone wasn’t just a cellphone anymore, it was a smart phone. It was fully touchscreen with apps, camera, and music player. The appearance and system of the cellphone started as big and simple. The very first cellphones were big and just had one function, calling and talking to others (Washington Post). Over time, cellphones became smaller and smaller so it would be easier to carry. The system of the cellphone became more and more complex. Functions were slowly added to cellphones and now cellphones have become like our personal assistant.

With the physical and systematic changes in cellphones, did the purpose of cellphones shift into another direction? The main purpose of cellphones in the past and even now is to talk. Cellphones were invented so people could call others no matter where they were. Although the purpose of a cellphone might still be to call someone else, other purposes have been added over the evolution of cellphones. Present cellphones allow people to not just only call others but it offers a way for humans to interact and communicate with others through not only phone calls but apps and functions. In other words, the purpose of cellphones has shifted to communicate. Other than the basic functions such as making a call and sending a text message, current phones are smartphones. Applications can be downloaded to fit anyone’s lifestyle. For example, Samsung phones have added a new feature called S Health where it counts how many steps per day you walk and also it can check your pulse. Nowadays, people are so busy that they don’t have the time to always exercise. Because of that, they can try to increase their steps per day. Which is something even busy people can easily change by using stairs instead of elevator and parking at a farther location. Another function that is now helpful for our current lifestyle are reminders functions and applications. Alarms on cellphones have been able to replace physical alarm clocks. Other applications can be used for as reminders for upcoming deadlines and work schedule. Another example is the addition of email. Email was created to adapt to people’s lifestyle. Many businessmen needed to check their email to contact and communicate with other businesses. Slowing email wasn’t just used by professionals and businessmen. Now, email it is used by almost everyone which is why it is very convenient to have it linked to our cellphones. We are able to access it even when we are not around a computer. Email being linked to our cellphones have decreases the usage of regular mail. Many business prefer to send out an email to customers because it will be easier for them to access it and possibly use it when they are at their store without needing to bring a physical paper or coupons. Although the new features and applications are changes to fit our lifestyle it is also because we dislike talking on the phone. From Alone Together, “Teenagers avoid making telephone calls, fearful that they “reveal too much”. They rather text than talk. Adults, too, choose keyboards over the human voice”. (Turkle, 11). This shows that it isn’t just the lifestyle but also our likes and dislikes that matter.

Cellphones have been helpful over time. There are many advantages of cellphones. Cellphones have become like our personal assistant. Cellphones make our lives easier by storing information so we don’t have to memorize it such as phone numbers. One can set reminders and alarms for deadlines and activities. It allows people to communicate with friends and family whether it is through phone calls, social media, or text message. Being able to carry a cellphone anywhere you go is also helpful in case of an emergency. Although cellphones have many advantages and were created for us, there are disadvantages when technology improves. Cellphones or smartphones have so many capabilities that we forget about real human interactions. People can go on dates and they would have their phone with them and check social media when they can have a real interaction. Sherry Turkle mentions that social media is there to help us connect and it is a good thing but because we are so focused on the content we see on our screen, we tend to forget to have a real conversation and interaction. We are together by keeping each other updated with technology but we aren’t really together. That’s why we are together alone. As it is mentioned in her book Alone Together, “Digital connections and the sociable robot may offer the illusion of companionship without the demands of a friendship” (Turkle, 1). It shows that we like that we get to pick and choose what we want using technology. Cellphones have also caused serious accidents that are fatal. Many tend to use their cellphones when they are driving which has caused serious accidents. They are so focused on checking that text message or notification from a social media that they don’t pay attention to the road and cause accidents.

As it can be seen cellphones have change a lot over time. How does the changes correlate to humans? It isn’t a surprise that over time humans have become more complex and busy. Our duties have become more complicated than ever just like cellphones. The very first cellphones were simple. All it was able to do was make a phone call. Now cellphones are able to multitask by storing data, making calls, connect to the internet, and notify one about different news and weather. In the beginning humans had one task, to survive. Now humans not only have to survive but also work, go to school, make money and etc. Humans have become more complex and smarter over time. Because humans have become more complex and smarter, our cellphones have also become more complicated and smarter. Cellphones are an extension of humans. Just like McLuhan mentions “All media are extensions of some human faculty – psychic or physical” (McLuhan, 26). For example, “the book is an extension of the eye” (McLuhan, 34-37) and “electric circuitry, an extension of the central nervous system” (McLuhan, 40). Similarly to the comparison McLuhan makes, we can infer that cellphones are an extension of humans. When you combine all the features cellphones has right now, we can see how it is an extension of us. The camera in the cellphone is an extension of our eyes. The recorder and music player is an extension of our ears. The speaker is an extension of our mouth. The memory space inside of a cellphone is like our brain. It stores different things whether they are things we can see or internal codes to make the cellphone work. The internal codes are like our organs, they work together to make the cellphone work as a whole. An example of how a cellphone might work as a whole is recording a video. It requires the camera/lenses to capture the picture. Which is like our eyes. Then while recording the video it is also recording the sounds. That part is like our ears. We listen to our surroundings. Then when the video is stored and when it is played back, it is like our brain memorizing a moment and recalling it.

Since cellphones have become a part of us or at least an extension of us, does the functions and capabilities of cellphones meet our needs? As our lives become more and more busy cellphones are there to make those busy schedule not seem as bad. We can organize our schedule into calendars, alarms, and reminders. In that sense, cellphone do meet our needs but because we are constantly thinking of new ways and ideas cellphones can met our needs even more. Because we are experimenting with different technology and making technology advance at a really fast rate it isn’t surprising that cellphones will be improve even more in the future. Although I can’t say that I have a solid idea of the future of cellphones, no doubt those changes will be made to meet our needs and make our lives easier. Improvements to intelligent personal assistants such as Cortana and Siri will be made. Those personal assistants will become smarter in understanding you. Some other changes that connect cellphones to humans even more are that cellphones will become smarter at syncing with our biological reflexes such as our eyes movements, thoughts, cultural and social preferences.

Cellphones have change greatly in the little time it has existed. Those changes wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the changes in humans. Humans becoming more complicated and smarter enable changes in cellphones to make our life easier. Different functions and applications are an extension of a different body part. It aid us when need it. We can use our brain to memorize more important things. In conclusion, cellphones as a whole is an extension of humans and the changes in purpose and function were created to adjust to the human life.

 

Citations

(1). Keith, Robert D. “The Cell Phone Timeline.” History of the Cell Phone. University of Florida. 2004. Web. 28 April 2015. <http://iml.jou.ufl.edu/projects/fall04/keith/history1.htm

(2). McLuhan, Marshall. The Medium is the Massage, an Inventory of Effects. California. Gingko Press Inc. 2001. Web

(3). Ray, Amanda. “The History And Evolution Of Cell Phones.” AI Blog. Art Institutes. N.d Web. 28 April 2015. <http://new.artinstitutes.edu/blog/the-history-and-evolution-of-cell-phones

(4). Turkle, Sherry. Alone Together. New York. BASIC BOOKS. 2011. Web

(5). Washington Post Staff. “The History of the Mobile Phone.” The Switch. The Washington Post. 9 September 2014. Web. 29 March 2015. <http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/the-switch/wp/2014/09/09/the-history-of-the-mobile-phone/

Integration of Technology in Sports

There are not many things that can unite a global audience the same way sports can. It is not difficult to see these instances during such events such as the Olympics or the World Cup, but it is extremely unlikely to successfully recreate such an atmosphere. Sports create a global village quite similar to, yet possibly more joyous than the global village Marshall McLuhan wrote about. Even with such unparalleled power, changes are still necessary for athletics. There are constant adjustments being made to sports in the forms of technology, rules, equipment, and even the athletes that participate. Some of these changes are made to protect the people involved in the competitions, others are made to create more offensive opportunities, but perhaps the most interesting changes are those being made to keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology. All of the changes made have their own impacts on the sports in which they are involved.

Technology is a major factor when it comes to how sports operate and how they evolve over time. There are also many different ways to look at what is classified as technological advancements. The first thing that comes to mind when somebody thinks of technology in sports is most likely the use of video replay and its integration and growth since its initial use in the 1960’s. Obviously since its inception, the techniques, systems, and efficiency of video replay have all drastically evolved, but the creator witnessed his invention’s impact. He noted “I changed the way things were normally done. That’s very hard to do in life” (1). The creation of instant replay led to the ability to review plays and decisions. With that ability, some basics of sports began to change. In the current age, it seems as if video review is becoming more expansive each year. There are no arguments that attempt to say video review results in fewer correct calls. However, there are still negatives to the heavier integration of technologies such as video review. The use of these new technologies is often seen as taking the human element out of the sports, therefore fundamentally changing the sports that were created centuries ago. The aspect of human error has created some of the most memorable sports moments in history. The spirit of the game comes from the human error not only in the players, but also in the officials. As well as the spirit of athletics being tarnished, a major concern with a technology such as video review is the potential damage it does to the timing and flow of a match. Momentum and rhythm are influential, yet often overlooked. With the entire process of reviewing a play taking a substantial amount of time, the adrenaline and flow can easily be lost. For both the MLB and NFL, not including officials stopping the game, finding out exactly what must be reviewed, walking to the review station, explaining the decision to all parties involved, and restarting the game afterwards, the average review time hovered right around two minutes. To go along with the time wasted, approximately half of all reviews did not constitute a call being overturned. This may not seem like a long amount of time, but when a game changing play can happen in a fraction of a second, those minutes of being completely removed from gameplay can, and does, make a monumental difference (2)(3). The main positive associated with the use of new technology is more accurate and consistent officiating. The main negative is the possibility of damaging the spirit and flow of a game. The positives outweighing the negatives is still up for debate according to many people.

With new technology coming to prevalence, new rules and regulations must accompany them. This may be the easiest area to see how new technology directly affects how a game or match is conducted. For a new rule to be fully implemented, it takes time. Like any other change to a major league, it must be approved by the governing heads of the league and usually by a majority of the teams involved in the league. With many different interests and affects for each proposed rule change, it can take a years to pass the proposal. Some rule changes connected to technology are minor while others present more of a major change. For instance, a more minor change occurred recently in the National Hockey League regarding television timeouts. After an icing occurs, television timeouts are no longer allowed to interrupt the game. This is meant to keep tired defensive players on the ice and create a more offensive, generally exciting game. This relatively new rule does not change the basic fabric of a sport. For more impactful rule changes, it is helpful to look at the National Football League. Recent times have seen concussion lawsuits and much discussion on the topic of head injuries. As a way to combat these discussions, new rules were created that limited the way a player is allowed to make contact and tackle another player. To some fans, this may decrease the excitement by limiting some of the larger hits. The new rules also have an effect on players. For a professional who has played the sport a certain way his entire life, it is not easy to change habits, especially when they have gotten him to the largest stage of the game. A player having to change his technique is much easier said than done, and it can create a disadvantage for the player who excels in the newly outlawed practices. Some changes are made to protect the athletes, and some are made to create a product more desirable for fans. Sometimes the two interfere with each other. Never do the rules have absolutely zero impact on the game that athletes and fans have grown to love.

As science and knowledge progress, the opportunities for advancing the human body arise. Over time, we are able to witness the evolution of the athlete. This is due to better knowledge on what to put into your body, how to get the most out of your body, and how to recover from serious workouts or injuries. There have been many new treatments, supplements, and drugs to help any of the processes listed above. Another key component of the advancement of athletes is the constant drive for success and superiority. Advancements in technology have allowed athletes to become exponentially better over time. A prime example is looking at the world record for a one mile run. Back in 1865, the record was a time over four and a half minutes. Less than one hundred years later, the record had plummeted and reached the first ever sub 4 minute mile in 1954. The current world record was set in 1999 with a time of approximately three minutes and forty-three seconds (4). It is easy to see the correlation between time and athletic performance. However, a common belief is that the human body is quickly approaching its limits. If, and more likely when, this happens, it will be interesting to see if there is any new technology to help push through the physical barriers that hold back the barrier. With the advancement of technology helping to advance the athletes, it is beneficial for those involved. Although, it is beneficial, it also creates scenarios previously unvisited. With such improved athletes, new rules must be created on occasion to keep the boundaries of the game stable.

As previously mentioned, athletes and rules are constantly evolving and changing in the world of sports. Equipment is not an exception. Companies strive to produce the best option so players are willing to pay top dollar for their products. Depending on its purpose, a product must stand up to the competition in the performance areas, safety areas, or most likely, both. New technology allows the safety equipment to be stronger and lighter at the same time. This is where companies cannot sacrifice structural integrity for weight. For high performance equipment where protection is less necessary, structural integrity can be compromised. For instance, hockey sticks are much lighter and much more powerful than traditional wooden sticks thanks to their construction, but anybody who has watched a single professional game in a recent season has more than likely witnessed a few broken sticks. The tradeoff of improved performance for the possibility of the stick failing is one most players are willing to make. The newer, more advanced equipment is meant to help players perform at the levels they desire. As far as safety equipment goes, helmets are the main point of focus. Since head injuries are usually considered to be the most serious, there are companies trying to innovate new ways to better protect the head. From season to season and game to game in the major football and hockey leagues, new helmets with new technologies will make their debuts. Riddell, the largest helmet manufacturer in the nation, recently unveiled their latest model with goals to decrease concussions when the head is impacted. The design is heavily altered compared to previous models, and that innovation helps keep Riddell at the top of the chain when it comes to helmet manufacturers (5). These goals to protect players also tie into the rules that are created for protection of players, especially when it comes to serious head and brain injuries.

Perhaps the largest change sports have seen with the advancements in technology is that pertaining to money. With televisions, internet, radio, and other mediums being involved in the money making world of sports business, the amount of money thrown around has multiplied. Salary caps and contracts have become much larger, stadiums and arenas have become more lavish, and advertisers have become willing to spend astronomically to get their advertisement out there. In the MLB, which does not have an active salary cap, the average salary jumped by nearly $500,000 to a record high 3.8 million dollars. With 910 current MLB players, that is a lot of money, not even including the managers and other staff members. This is astonishing considering the average was as low as one million dollars as recently as 1992 (6). The boom of the internet, expansion and growth of the television and its networks, and new gadgets with internet capabilities have all led to larger monetary gains by the league. The increased monetary inflow led to increased salaries, especially in the big market cities. With such large salaries, the intents of the athletes can reasonably be questioned. Playing a sport for passion and for love is a complete different action than simply playing for a paycheck. Somewhat connected to the idea of self-representation over different mediums discussed by Julia Watson in “Studying the Digital Self”, most fans never personally interact with their favorite players. They don’t get to discover their motives for playing in a certain city, or even playing that sport. A hot topic for the MLB to consider is their neglect of a salary cap. A decently popular opinion with a strong backing is that the lack of a salary cap allows the teams with larger incomes to possess an unfair advantage over smaller clubs. Not only is there an unfair advantage, but the integrity of the game can also be damaged. A player’s loyalty to one team can dissipate when a larger offer from better funded club arrives. The money will never stop growing because the technology involved in sports is only growing faster.

Technology and sports have become intertwined. There are many positives that are the driving force behind this continuing integration of technology into sports, but there are also some negatives to consider. From video review and television to protective and performance equipment, the world of sports is ever-changing. Athletes also change with time, and so does the nature of the sports they play. With something as unique as sports, something that holds the power to unite people from all over with countless differences, it is important to not let these changes destroy the basics that billions have come to love. Change is important, but it is also dangerous.

(1)          Schiavenza, Matt. “Instant Replay’s Quiet Revolutionary.” The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 19 Jan. 2015. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(2)          “Has Expanded Replay Worked Well In Baseball? Here’s Our Call.”FiveThirtyEight. N.p., 12 Sept. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(3)          “Breaking down an Average NFL Game.” SportsonEarth.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(4)          “The World Record for the Mile Run.” The World Record for the Mile Run. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(5)          Avila, Jim, and Serena Marshall. “Riddell Unveils Overhauled New Football Helmet SpeedFlex.” ABC News. ABC News Network, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

(6)          ESPN Internet Ventures, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Netflix is the Massage

As mentioned before, Netflix was able to change the television industry. But how was it able to change it in just about 25 years? From having good marketing strategies to the timing. When Netflix was founded it knew that people enjoyed buying and renting movies. To make it even more convenient, Netflix started a DVD delivery system. As Marshall McLuhan mentions that we focus on the obvious. We know that there are changes, the advantages and disadvantages of a new system but rarely do we know that the new system or invention had changed our lives. Sometimes it is a long change, other times it is a subtle change that we don’t even realize it (Mark Federman)  “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication” (page 8) bring up a good point on how Netflix works. The content of Netflix is great but the reason why it could become so big wasn’t because of its content but the nature of the media. It is convenient. We don’t have to store physical DVDs or go to a store to get a movie. We can see anything easily anywhere.

Netflix being electric technology could change the way society is now because “electric technology fosters and encourages unification and involvement. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without knowledge of the workings of media” Which is true, Netflix was introduced in 1997. There were a lot of technological improvements but we still didn’t understand it well enough. We didn’t that it was slowly changing the DVD industry because we couldn’t understand it well enough.

McLuhan also mentions that a medium is the message; it is an extension of us. It is proven to be true with the analysis of different mediums. In this case, Netflix is an extension of us. We might deny that it isn’t an extension of ourselves but we are the reason why that medium is so big. Even the content of the medium is tailored to our preferences and our likes. By watching certain movies and television shows, Netflix can give you a suggestion of other movies and television shows that you might like to watch. That isn’t the only thing that it is a part of us. It tries to be like us by having a “brain”. It categorizes the contents into different parts very much like our brain. Netflix is also able to tell you the likes of others by getting information from other social media like Facebook.

McLuhan argues that the message is the medium. The content or the use of the innovation is not the message. The message is the “change in inter-personal dynamics that the innovation brings with it” (Mark Federman) In the case of Netflix, it isn’t the content of Netflix or how it was founded but possibly the changes of lifestyle of us as humans and the changes in users in the internet because of Netflix. It is the change of point of view in people because of Netflix. Because of Netflix, people have found ways to learn about less known shows and movies and some have a positive attitude toward the movie industry when knowing it isn’t all “Hollywood”. The point is that the obvious changes aren’t the actual message. The message is hidden, it is not obvious.

For McLuhan, the changes, the innovation was television. It is interesting to see how that had change over time. Television is still around but the way it is watched has changed a lot. But I also believe that McLuhan knew that there would be changes. Just like he said “the medium, our process, of our time- electric technology – is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life. It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate practically every thought, every action, and every institution formerly taken for granted” Many innovations have change the way our society works from our personal life to our social life. The changes have its advantages and disadvantages but many things that we took for granted in the past and in the present might not be there anymore in the future because of the many changes.

In conclusion, like many different mediums, Netflix was able to change the way our society is. It reshaped and restructured how our personal and social life is. It changed the way different industries that we took for granted, disappear or restructure.

Footnotes:

  1. Mark Federman, “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?”. Utoronto.ca. July 23, 2004. http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm
  2. McLuhan, Marshall. “The Medium is the Massage”
  3. Image: http://s3.amazonaws.com/digitaltrends-uploads-prod/2013/12/netflix-movies-expiring-jan-2014.jpg

Subconscious Advertising: What Role Does Medium Play?

Although some may deny it the society we live in today is dominated by a very consumer based culture.  So much of what people see, hear and talk about consumer goods, everything from the newest snack food to hottest new car to sickest new pair of Nike shoes.  The medium that plays the biggest role in this consumer based society is advertisement.  Advertisement itself is not an incredibly new concept, people have been advertising the goods and services for quite some time now.  However advertisement used to be a very small slightly insignificant medium such as verbal advertising, billboards, and newspaper/magazine ads.  These mediums reach many people but nothing compared to the advertising mediums of today’s society.  In Marshall Mcluhan’s, The Medium Is The Message, one of the main points made is that the way information is portrayed is just as important if not more important than the actual content of the information itself.  I can’t hardly think of a technology that focuses on this ideal of the importance of the medium itself than modern day advertisement.  Today ads are everywhere we look, there are constant commercials on every television and radio station worldwide, every website anywhere on the internet has some form of advertisement, there is even ads on cars, trains, planes and busses.  This constant exposure to ads of such a variety of mediums raises questions such as, Are certain forms of ads more efficient than others?  Would more people call a number heard on a radio ad or click on a link in an online ad for the same product?

“Americans born since World War II have grown up in a media-saturated environment. From childhood, we have developed a sort of advertising literacy, which combines appreciation for technique with skepticism about motives. We respond to ads with at least as much rhetorical intelligence as we apply to any other form of persuasion.”(1)  Marketing and advertisement has become an entire field of study in today’s society devoted to answering questions like the ones above.  Almost every company now has some sort of a marketing team devoted to nothing but researching new ways to promote and advertise for the company.  Marketing teams put a lot of time, thought, and research into the little details such as color scheme, sounds, fonts and other things that some people would argue have nothing to do with the product/service the ad is representing.  The small things like color and font may not change the product itself but they may convey a certain subconscious emotional response in the consumer causing their perspective of the content of the ad to change.

Footnotes:

Magazines as a Medium and an Archive

Merriam-Webster defines an archive as a place in which public records or historical materials (such as documents) are kept; also : the material that is stored in an archive (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary copyright © 2015 by Merriam-Webster, Incorporated). Common synonyms of the word archive are files, logs, documents, catalogs, etc. Archive is one of the many words that can have a variety of meanings depending on who you ask. In Ann Cvektovich’s, An Archive of Feelings, she expresses an archive of feelings as, “an exploration of cultural texts as repositories of feelings and emotions, which are encoded not only in the content of texts themselves, but in the practices that surround their production and reception”[1]. While Cvetovich’s archive of feelings focuses on the trauma of the homosexual lifestyle, I want to explore a different archive of feelings and also a medium of reading: Magazines. Magazines are something very big in today’s society. They are in homes, offices, waiting rooms, grocery stores, etc. Everywhere you go you can have access to what is going on in the world of celebrities, new home improvement methods, the upcoming athletes, and so on. There is just about a magazine made for every age group, gender, and personality. But what do some of these magazines do for us?

In Marshall McLuhan’s, The Medium is the Massage, we are exposed to the idea of mediums being the message. Magazines are a controversial medium in terms of their dependability.  While many magazines can be useful and reliable, there are many that are the exact opposite. When you are in line at the local Kroger, your eyes gets caught by a picture of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie with a tabloid saying something intriguing that makes you want to read more. 90% of the time, that tabloid is providing false or skewed information to the reader while giving no interest to the lives of the people it may effect. False advertisements such as these give magazines a bad rep. Many magazines are out to provide beneficial lessons and entertainment to a specific audience.

Better Homes & Gardens is a very popular magazine directed toward the typical housewife. As stated in a review, “Better Homes & Gardens provides the readers with information to make more informed decisions and covers subjects such as education, parenting, travel, gardening, health, cars, money-management and home entertainment.” An archive such as this is sharing so much information into home improvement and well-being.

Men’s Health is a magazine directed toward the typical man ages 16+ (roughly). By sharing workout routines, eating habbits, and sexual tips, this magazine is “helping out” the typical male reader. A man subscribes to Men’s Health simply for the reason of being taught how to improve in different aspects. By having such a resource, men are able to read and practice new ways of life to be “better”.

Magazines act as an archive in many different ways. They share catalogs, stories, and lessons to benefit readers. There are a good amount of magazines that carry false information simply for the act of entertainment, but many people find pleasure in this. That is their ultimate goal. There are also plenty of examples of reliable magazines that are trying to air the desired reader. All of these magazines are an archive in their own unique way. They stand for many different things and share specific fact or fiction articles with the reader.

Footnotes:

[1] Cvetkovich, Ann. Introduction. An Archive of Feelings: Trauma, Sexuality, and Lesbian Public Cultures. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 2003. 1-15. Print. 05 Feb. 2015.

[2] “Better Homes and Gardens New Houseplants Book.” Summary/Reviews:. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Feb. 2015.

Picture:

https://www.uclahealth.org/Pages/for-patients-and-visitors/gift-shops/books-and-magazines.aspx

Video Games and How They Interact With Us

These days there are many people who enjoy playing video games. Some people can even play for hours each day. So what is it that draws us to video games? Through books, we can read fascinating tales and we are able to live vicariously through the characters. Movies allow something similar. In Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage, he points out that human people are visually biased (page 117). McLuhan also argues that people enjoy television because it is projected at us (page 125). This is unlike reading a book where we must imagine the images ourselves, and it brings the movie one step ahead of the book. Video games are another step up even from that. While talking about television, McLuhan says, “You are the screen” (page 125). Video games allow us to be surrounded by the screen. Video games take us to a whole new world where we can create an alternative self and live alternative lives. If we make a mistake or decide we want another start, all we need to do is create another save file. If we want a different life entirely, all we need is another game.

This is how I view myself.
Pictured above is Arno, of Assassin’s Creed. While playing as Arno, I am a man skilled in swordsmanship in parkour. In reality I am none of those things.

Video games allow us to explore ourselves in a way that books or television never could. While television can show us what we want, videogames allow us to be what we want. Through choosing the right game, a player can achieve anything. There are games that allow us to do anything from becoming a trained assassin to becoming the mayor of a town. Usually, we can even change our character in some ways to make them exactly what we want to be. Sometimes this simply means choosing a different set of clothes, or switching out the character’s weapon for one that is more you, but sometimes this can mean changing things like species, gender, or appearance. During the time that we are playing that game, we become that character. If I am playing a game and my character is killed, I do not say, “My character died.” I say, “I died.” I speak as if I am my character regardless of whether I spent three hours altering his appearance and abilities or if he was the only character to choose from and I was not able to alter anything about him. Because the player has complete control over that characters actions, the player and the character become one. It is in that way that the player is able to insert themself into a fictional world. With new virtual reality technology, people are going to be able to enter those other worlds like never before. Goggles with fold down headphones allow people to experience 3D sound [1]. While there are currently not many games that support this type of feature, it won’t be long before virtual reality enters homes around the world.

Being able to enter another world in that way can be exciting. There are no limits to what a person can be. The life a person has in a game can be something that they would never once desire for their actual life, but since the world of the game is fictional, it can be fun to live it for a little while. People are naturally drawn to the chance to do the things that they would never be able to do in their own life. In video games we are assassins, race car drivers, and Pokémon masters. Video games allow us to create a brand new life. Whether it is a more exciting life, or a more manageable one, video games provide us with whatever we need.


[1] Oculus Rift Product Review

Image – https://www.pinterest.com/pin/371476669239195106/

 

“The Medium is the Massage” and the Search Engine

Our generation is the last of its kind. I was born in 1993 and growing up, I went to grade school, like every other child. All through elementary school, the only true source of information were textbooks. I remember going to the library in order to find books on topics I was going to research. Now, kids of all ages and adults have the ability to use search engines in order to acquire the information that’s needed. I’m referring to ‘search engines’ and not the internet or Google mostly because both of these things have turned into bigger commodities than just providing information. I want to specifically look at the conflict between learning in today’s society with the ability to obtain any bit of information imaginable through a search engine.

In Marshall McLuhan’s book, The Medium is the Massage, one of the topics discussed is the relationship between media and the medium through which it is presented. Another way to think about it, according to McLuhan, is the battle between the old environment and the new technology. This dispute can be seen between learning in the modern-day classroom and this relatively new ability to utilize a search engine for information.

In elementary and high school we are taught facts, formulas and the application of these lessons. Now that there is a plethora of information, more information available than we will ever use, what in the curriculum is obsolete? Is it important to memorize every capital of each US state, like I was required to do elementary school? Is memorization itself now nearly obsolete? Why spend hours in and out of the classroom committing to memory what you can search and find in less than a second? How can we adjust the curriculum (teaching environment) to this new form of acquiring instantaneous information (medium)?

This conflict between the classroom and the ability to ‘search’ needs to be recognized by teachers. Educators must now focus on teaching students about processes of applying information, problem solving and collaborating (1). The emphasis in school for the 21st century student is no longer about learning new information, but learning how to use information. Having the information, such as mathematical formulas or the history of Constantinople, is not the issue, like it may have been 15 years ago. There is little use for this sort of information unless it is taught to students how to apply new aged media to real-life solutions.

This brings up the issue of intellect. Intelligence is traditionally recognized by ‘knowing’ a lot. Today, what does that mean? Anyone with an electronic device from 2003 and a hand can know everything about anything. If students are provided with the tools to properly apply this ability, then I think the new standard for intelligence is bound to change. We are living in a fast-paced world and it will become ever-more important to learn the skills of improv and problem-solving. A key benchmark in education in our current era will be whether or not students can draw on lots of different types of information and bring them together to work out a solution, to gain a new perspective on a situation or to develop our knowledge of something (1). So in a sense, we are not getting less smart, just a different smart.

Footnote:

(1) Joanne Orlando, The Washington Post, “Technology is ruining our memory. Here’s why that doesn’t matter.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2014/12/08/technology-is-ruining-our-memory-heres-why-it-doesnt-matter/