Exploring the Media Ecology

Of all the media theorists Marshall McLuhan is perhaps the most famous and in the 60s, there was perhaps no more well known academic figure in the entire communication discipline. McLuhan’s ideas have stood the test of time, yet at the time of their conception they were widely dismissed by the scientific community for reasons we will return to later (Scolari, 2012). In recent years the theory most accredited to McLuhan, the media ecology, has enjoyed a high degree of resurgence, with organizations such as the Media Ecology Association (MEA) leading the way. This theory, as Neil Postman proposed in a 1975 address, focuses not on specialization, but rather on making more generalize, bigger picture, connections (Salas, 2007). The media ecology can best be viewed as a framework, a way of looking at the world through the lens that mediums and technology are far more influential than the content of the messages they provide. This is the basic concept behind the phrase that epitomizes McLuhan’s contributions to this theory, “the medium is the message” (McLuhan, 1964, p. 7). Before we delve further into the tenants and contributions to the media ecology theory, it is useful to look at the metaphor around which it is organized, that of an ecology.

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I forgot. Oops. A case study in impression mismanagement in the political sphere

Every four years we hold elections for the most powerful position in the world, the President of the United States. It is a position that requires a strong, intelligent, even-keeled person because they represent our country on the world stage. The term “stage” is one that evokes images of the theater. In fact, you could look at any human interaction in that way, a performance on a particular stage. That concept is what Goffman’s Dramaturgical theory addresses. Goffman’s theory has been criticized for being apolitical, however, as this study will demonstrate, this is not the case and Dramaturgical theory can be applied to the political sphere.

One concept from Goffman’s theory is the idea of “Impression Management”. This is the way we go about assessing a situation, consciously or unconsciously, and determining which behaviors to portray and which ones to mask in a particular situation. In politics, this may be consciously monitoring what a candidate says during a debate in an effort to remain ideologically consistent. Mismanagement of ones impression can cause one to lose face, something that, especially in the modern political world, can be devastating to one’s campaign. In communications studies face refers to “the image of yourself that you want others to see and believe” (Wood, 2010, p. 243) The purpose of this study is to investigate the consequences of mismanaging one’s impression in the political sphere. These impression mismanagements are called “political gaffes” and have been the fall of many campaigns and even presidencies. During this study I investigated Rick Perry’s recent political gaffe and the consequences of it. The purpose of this study is to answer the question: how does impression mismanagement effect our perceptions of our leaders and potential leaders? A secondary question central to this research is how politicians attempt to recover from those gaffes. Hopefully, through a better understanding of the public reaction to political gaffes, we will be able to pave way for further study on the recovery from instances of impression mismanagement.

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Sell me this USB stick

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It’s about that time of year where graduates across the country, like myself, are out making their first foray into the ‘real world.’ It’s a time of transition that, at times, feels like treading water. So how does one break the monotony of endless searches on LinkedIn and company research? Well besides doing whatever it is that you like to do in your free time, you could also begin taking some proactive steps towards achieving the career you are looking for. Why listen to me, you might ask, you are in the same boat as I am. You would be right there, but you should listen to me because I know how good it feels to make progress, even if that progress is tied up in a non success.

A couple days ago I was browsing the /r/forhire section of reddit when I came across a posting asking for someone to do some freelance Copywriting work. Knowing in the back of my head that I was looking at many similar positions I figured it would be prudent to at least attempt to submit something – you can’t succeed at what you don’t try. The assignment was to write some copy for a simple USB stick, like the one pictured, which was to be sold as an advertising specialty. We were supposed to also come up with a name for the product as well. If you know me, you know I love to inject a little humor into things and try to have fun with them. The design of the USB stick reminded me of what I tend to use that particular style for most, nervous fidgeting, something I decided to include as imagry in the copy I wrote. Below is what I submitted:

Product Name: The Flippy Stick

Description:

“Flexible, Strong, Efficient” these three words are likely descriptors of your company, so shouldn’t your advertising specialties reflect that as well? The Flippy Stick stands at the pinnacle of USB storage stick technology, with a sleek, modern design and bold, bright colors which help it stand out from the competition ensuring that your flash drive will be the one that potential clients fidget with during the trade show. Like your company or brand, the Flippy Stick will stand above the competition with its attractive design, remain strong in the face of adversity (read: washing machines), and with its capless design, remain the most efficient product on the market. When choosing an advertising speciality, remember, size does matter.

Now I should go ahead and say here I received a quick response that the company had, unfortunately, already filled the position. But nonetheless there was a sense of accomplishment that came with actually taking some steps forward and garnering some work experience even if it was miniscule. I guess the point here is that you shouldn’t be afraid to start working before you are hired. If you want to do something, go ahead and do it, and I promise people will appreciate your ‘proactiveness.’ Don’t be afraid to take risks, be it putting yourself out there with freelance work, or trying to reach out to the CEO at that company you really want to work for, you might find that your precociousness is eventually rewarded.

How the New Batman/Superman Movie Should Begin

So I am of the half of the people who actually really loved the new Man of Steel movie. However I do agree with the complaint a majority of people seem to have, the crazy amount of destruction that happened in the fight with Zod was a little over the top. But with the announcement of the Batman/Superman movie I think it all makes sense. In MoS Superman wasn’t sure how to truly manage his power, and because of that he ended up pretty much destroying Metropolis in his fight. Well I doubt that is something that Batman would take very lightly sitting over in Gotham. In the comics it is well documented that Batman thinks Superman is potentially very dangerous (this is why he had the contingency plans that caused all the events in JLA: Tower of Babel). I think that Zack Snyder, if he is smart, will use a confrontation between Batman and Superman to address the issue. I see Batman going into Metropolis to find out more about the alien, he confronts Clark and gives him a “great power = great responsibility” talk and basically tells him to stop being so sloppy. That moment would allow the filmmakers to correct the main complaint with the MoS movie without messing with the universe created by the movie, as well as giving a plausible bridge for Batman’s entrance into this film universe. Just a fanboy’s humble opinion.