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Neil Postman, Chair, (1931-2003) New York University Culture and Communications Department

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Amusing Ourselves to Death Chapter 1 The Medium Is The Metaphor Neil Postman, Chair, (1931-2003) New York University Culture and Communications Department – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Neil Postman, Chair, (1931-2003) New York University Culture and Communications Department


1
Neil Postman, Chair, (1931-2003) New York
University Culture and Communications Department
Amusing Ourselves to Death Chapter 1 The Medium
Is The Metaphor
2
What is the task of the social critic?
3
TO INDUCE DISSONANCE
4
"People who like to avoid shocking discoveries,
who prefer to believe that society is just what
they were taught in Sunday School, who like the
safety of the rules and maxims of what Alfred
Schutz has called 'the world-taken-for-granted,
should stay away from this course.
Peter Berger
Invitation to Sociology
5
"To believe that the world is only as you think
it is, is stupidThe world is a mysterious
place."                                          
      Carlos Cataneda Journey to Ixtlan The
Lessons of Don Juan
6
I am teaching you how to see as opposed to
merely looking , and stopping the world is the
first step to seeing . Stopping the world is not
a cryptic metaphor that really doesn't mean
anything. And its scope and importance as one of
the main propositions of my knowledge should not
be misjudged.       I am teaching you how to
stop the world . Nothing will work, however, if
you are very stubborn. Be less stubborn, and you
will probably stop the world with any of the
techniques I teach you. Everything I will tell
you to do is a technique for stopping the world.
7
Understanding Begins With Contradiction Susan
Sontag
8
This I Am Wondering About..
  • The last sentence in the chapter, our metaphors
    create the content of our culture, is a little
    confusing.
  • How can Postman make the jump from media to
    metaphor and from metaphor to content of
    culture?
  • Why is television a metaphor? I could see when
    someone is talking or writing they need to
    compare things they are talking or writing about
    to something else to help create an image in
    their listeners head, but television provides
    the image flat out??

9
Pivotal Terms In The Study of Human Communication
101 Things I Learned in fourOne7
10
If you wanna play the game, you gotta speak the
language..
  • The Literal Definition
  • Metaphor
  • A metaphor asserts a structural similarity
    between two domains normally thought to be
    separate

11
All subjects are based on powerful metaphors
which direct, and organize the way we do our
thinking.
12
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13
The Raisin Bread Metaphor
Imagine an enormous loaf of bread-dough with
raisins scattered through it. The dough is
expanding, and, as it does, it drives the raisins
apart in all directions. If this is a model of
the universe, the raisins are the galaxies, and
space is being created between them all of the
time. .
14
Our raisin is the Milky Way galaxy
15
What metaphors have been used to describe the
Internet?
16
What metaphors have been used to describe the
Internet?
Cyberspace The Information Super Highway The
Digital Frontier The Electronic
Marketspace Virtual Community
17
cyberspace
18
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19
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20
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21
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22
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23
What do you think?????
  • What are some of the metaphors which might be
    used to describe and think about the role of the
    teacher?
  • Teacher As...

24
Teacher as Gardener
25
Teacher as Mountain-Guide
26
Teacher as Entertainer.
27
Teacher as Information Conduit
28
? Teacher as Coach.
29
Teacher as Evangelist.
30
Teacher as Salesperson
31
What do you think..?
  • What are some metaphors which might be used to
    describe intimate-romantic relationships?
  • Relationships As..

32
Relationship as uncontrollable force..
  • I was overcome
  • We are just drifting
  • I am falling fast
  • It is almost like an obsession
  • He takes my breath away
  • I felt like a couldnt breathe
  • It was meant to be.
  • We are like magic
  • Falling head over heals.

33
Relationship as Danger...
  • You better keep on your toes.
  • It was almost frightening.
  • We both felt tied down.
  • Be careful.
  • You may get hurt or burned.
  • In your arms I never felt more safe
  • It is so good because we both feel safe..

34
Relationship as Machine..
  • The relationship is rubbing me the wrong way.
  • Seems to be lots of friction lately
  • Been pretty much on-off, on-off
  • God, the sparks just flew.
  • I think we are headed for a breakdown.
  • Things are really clicking.
  • Cant complain, running smoothly

35
Relationship as Game or Sport
  • You going out hunting?
  • It was a rebound date.
  • Did you score?
  • Why do you play cat and mouse?
  • Would you ever cheat on me?
  • I need a kiss, its a rule.
  • It was nice to win one for a change.
  • Every time I hear something bad about my ex
    its like a trophy.
  • Stranded at first base again, huh?

36
Relationship As Container
  • I really feel trapped.
  • We both needed our space.
  • Just our inner circle..
  • She was cramping my style.
  • Its an inside-outside thing.
  • Outside interests were getting in the way
  • We have developed our space

37
Relationships as War
  • I got ammunition to use against him
  • It such a battle
  • Your going to be another casualty
  • Do you keep a body count?
  • I held off his advances.

38
Relationships As Work
  • We really need to work on it.
  • I know we can make things work.
  • We need to cement our relationship
  • We are rebuilding
  • Are you going to work things out?
  • The foundation is a little shaky.
  • Its getting to be a real effort to love you.

39

Email From Suzanne (After the Divorce)
I'm bummed that I couldn't make this work. I'm
really bummed that while there aren't kids to
worry about in this marriage, I'm going to lose
you and Tracy. Life sucks!

40
Relationships as Economic Exchange
  • We forged a compromise
  • She cut of the supply.
  • A favorable rate of exchange.
  • Gotta give a little, take a little
  • Like buying a new car.
  • Really did not invest much.
  • We struck a deal.

41
Relationship as Manufactured Product
  • We were made for each other.
  • We are putting the parts back together..
  • We have some building to do

42
Relationship as Journey
  • We are progressing
  • Things are going to fast, we need to slow down
  • What a trip.
  • We are stalled, things are at the crossroads..
  • I think we are both headed in the same
    direction.
  • There is no turning back.
  • We on on our way to forever

43
Relationship as Adventure/Quest
  • He is so intriguing.
  • We are still discovering each other
  • I need to find myself
  • There is so much to discover
  • She is so mysterious
  • It has opened so many new horizons

44
Relationship As Organism
  • I cant live without her
  • She is lovesick
  • We are in our infancy.
  • Need to pump some life into.
  • My love will never die
  • Do you think we can survive
  • We have grown so much
  • It needs resuscitation

45
Relationship as Family
  • He is like my big brother.
  • We take care of each other
  • We watch out for each other
  • We would kill for each other

46
Relationship as Fairy Tale
  • This cant be happening
  • I was in his spell.
  • I was zapped
  • How did I get so lucky.
  • How did we ever find each other
  • Do you think we will live happily every after..
  • You are my angel

47
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
48
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
  • What are out cultures media metaphors?
  • The Voice
  • The Printed Word
  • The Television
  • The Computer

49
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
50
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
  • Mediums function metaphorically by
  • influencing how we think

51
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
  • Not simply machines for conveying information
  • They function like metaphors to influence our
    view of reality

52
Media Metaphors Are Like Theories-They Furnish a
Camera Lens
  • Through which we view the world
  • Through which we sequence the world
  • Through which we frame the world
  • Through which we classify the world
  • Through which we enlarge/reduce
  • Through which we color the world
  • Through which we make an argument about what the
    world is like

53
What does it mean to say that the medium is the
metaphor?
  • 2. Mediums assert a structural similarity

    between their content and the world of whatever
    portion of it they are representing.
  • Media Imply They Are Showing Us
  • The World

54
Agree or Disagree?
  • Also, even if the medium did change the message,
    it was only a slight change, today since
    television, radio, and even computers are so
    common, I dont think that says the message is
    affected by the medium is as true as it used to
    be.

55
Pivotal Terms In The Study of Human Communication
101 Things I Learned in Communication fourOne7
56
The Medium-Cognition Relationship How is your
mind influenced by television?
  • How is the way you think
    about relationships
    about education
    about politics
    about religion
    about
    consumption
  • Influenced by exposure to this particular form of
    communication

57
This I Am Wondering About..
  • The last sentence in the chapter, our metaphors
    create the content of our culture, is a little
    confusing.

58
Mediums function like metaphors to shape out
messages and our mind
101 Things I Learned in Communication fourOne7
59
What does it mean to say that television is like
radiation?
60
What does it mean to say that television is like
radiation?
  • Invisible
  • Always with us
  • Harmless in small doses
  • Fatal in high does
  • Damage that you cant see
  • Effect take a long time to develop

61
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62
Very simply, sunburn and UV light can damage your
skin, and this damage can lead to skin
cancer. Most people receive 80 of their
lifetime exposure to the sun by 18 years of age.
Remember, skin cancer is very slow to develop.
The sunburn you receive this week may take 20
years or more to become skin cancer.
63
This I am wondering about..
  • One thing I did not quite understand is
    Postmans reference to smoke signals.
  • When referring to the political arena, Postman
    states you cannot do political philosophy on
    television. Its form works against the content.
    I am not sure what this means.

64
According to the Boy Scouts
  • One puff meant ATTENTION. 
  • Two puffs meant ALL'S WELL. 
  • Three puffs of smoke, or three fires in a row,
    signifies DANGER, TROUBLE, OR A CALL FOR HELP.

65
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66
All Messages Have
101 Things I Learned in Communication fourOne7
Form
Substance
Style
67
There is a relationship between medium form and
message substance
101 Things I Learning in Com fourOne 7
  • Our attention here is on how forms of public
    discourse regulate and even dictate what kind of
    content can issue from such forms.
  • Neil Postman
  • Amusing Ourselves To Death

68
All Mediums Have Biases
101 Things I Learning in fourOne7
  • A medium favors certain types of message content
  • A medium may favor certain modes of representing
    or symbolizing the world
  • A medium may favor certain cognitive capacities.

69
  • If all mediums have biases, and a medium may
    favor certain types of message content/message
    substance, what types of content does the
    televisual medium tend to favor?

70
What types of message content does the
televisual medium favor?
101 Things I Learned in Communication fourOne7
  • 1. Conflict (harmony is boring)
  • 2. Drama (in the form of narrative)
  • 3. Immediacy
  • 4. Novel or the unusual (bad vs. Good)
  • 5. Simplicity vs. Complexity
  • 6. Visual (rapid visual imagery)
  • 7. Emotional vs. rational

71
Voices From The Front
  • He begins talking about a clock..now if one
    looks at a watch to see what time it is, he or
    she is usually not interested in how the watch
    worksand it one watches TV, no one is not
    concerned with how it is controlling how one
    thinksbut than he begins to talk about.this
    section really confused me.

72
I am teaching you how to see as opposed to
merely looking , and stopping the world is the
first step to seeing .
73
Why are media consumers so unaware of the
influence these messages might be having on their
attitudes, values and buying habits?
74
It is because they dont know about the power of
the messages, how the media work or how to impact
the system.
75
Voices From The Front
  • I did find it hard to follow the part about
    Lewis Mumfords idea of the clock and the
    creation of the idea of moment to moment What
    does in every tool we create, an idea is
    embedded that goes beyond the function of the
    thing itself, mean?

76
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77
  • "The mechanical clock dates from the 14th
    Century... The machine that mechanized time did
    more than regulate the activities of the day it
    synchronized human reactions, not with the rising
    and setting sun but with the indicated movements
    of the clock's hands so it brought exact
    measurement and temporal control into every
    activity, by setting an independent standard
    whereby the whole day could be laid out and
    subdivided".

Lewis Mumford Technics and Human Development
1967
78
We eat, not when we are hungry, but when the time
is appropriate
79

We sleep when the clock denotes an acceptable
hour, not when we are tired and we awaken not
when we are fully rested, but when time
necessitates us to do so
80
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81

We judge our relative success by how many hours
of our day are filled with activity.
82

We judge the measure of our worth by how much an
hour we can charge and as such, time is a
commodity too valuable to be wasted
83

We even assess the relative health of our body,
via its physiological rhythms, with the second
hand of our watches
84
What is Intelligence?
85
The Medium-Technology-Culture Relationship
  • What is the function of air conditioning?

86
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87
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88
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89
The Medium-Technology-Culture Relationship
  • What is the function of the automobile?

90
The Medium-Technology-Culture Relationship
  • First-Order Effects
  • Second-Order Effects


    Lee Spoull and Sarah Kiesler
    New Ways of Working In
    The Networked Organization

91
"We Shape Our Tools and they shape us."
McLuhan
92
The Medium-Culture Relationship
When you add a new technology to a culture you
do not get the old culture with a new
technology, you get the possibility of a
transformed culture. Neil Postman Amusing
Ourselves To Death
93
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94
No More Teflon We Like It Sticky
  • Medium Function Like Metaphors
  • The Form Of A Medium Influences Message Substance
  • The Influence Of Technology On A Culture Is
    Always Multi-Functional

95
(No Transcript)
96
Neil Postman,Chair Culture and Communications
Department New York University
Loving Resistance Fighters
97
This I Am Wondering About..
  • The last sentence in the chapter, our metaphors
    create the content of our culture, is a little
    confusing.

98
After all, anyone who has studied the history of
technology knows that technological change is
never neutral. A new technology sometimes creates
more than it destroys. Sometimes, it destroys
more than it creates. But it is never one-sided.
Neil Postman Informing Ourselves To Death

99
Neil Postman
  • What is the problem to which this technology is a
    solution?
  • If there is a legitimate
    problem here that is solved by the
    technology, what other problems will be
    created by my using
    this technology?

100
"We Shape Our Tools and they shape us."
McLuhan
101
the greatest danger in times of turbulence is
not the turbulence -- it is to act with
yesterday's logic. Peter Drucker Management
Consultant
102
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103
"In this class we use the Socratic method. I call
on you, ask you a question and you answer it. Why
don't I just give you a lecture? Because through
my questions you'll teach yourselves. Through
this method of questions and answers, questioning
and answering we seek to develop in you the
ability to analyze that vast complex of facts
that constitutes the relationships of members
within a given society. Questions and answers. At
times you may feel you have found the correct
answer, I can assure you this is a complete
delusion on your part.
104
You will never find the correct, absolute, and
final answer. In this class there is always
another question to follow your answer, yes your
on a treadmill, my little questions spin the
tumblers of your mind, your on an operating
table, my little questions are the fingers
probing your brain. We do brain surgery here, you
teach yourself the law, but I train your mind.
You come in here with a mind full of mush and
you leave thinking like a lawyer."
105
Media are like synecdoche (substitute A part for
the whole)
  • Raymond Gozzi
  • Ithaca College

106
synecdoche      syn ecdoch ic (s n k-d k
k) or syn ecdoch ical (- -k l) adj.
  • A figure of speech in which a part is used for
    the whole (as hand for sailor), the whole for a
    part (as the law for police officer), the
    specific for the general (as cutthroat for
    assassin), the general for the specific (as thief
    for pickpocket), or the material for the thing
    made from it (as steel for sword).

107
Riddle Me This Batman.
108
What is the Teflon-Factor
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