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Annotated Bibliography

Page history last edited by Danny 15 years, 5 months ago

Annotated Bibliography




Barnes, S., Strate, L. (1996). The educational implications of the computer: A media ecology critique. New Jersey Journal of Communication, 4(2), 180-208. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.



The article discusses the vantages and disadvantages of computer media as an educational medium in curriculum and in classrooms. Some argue that print is much more superior to technology as an educational medium. Analyzes of technology, remind us on what was said about television of the failures of having any educational purpose in the classrooms. Neil Postman suggest that we should question the educational purpose of technology, mainly computers; seriously and within a historical perspective in the educational system. Postman uses media ecology theory to prove that “digital medium and hypertext computer networks” is an educational medium. He also defines what media ecology is, “the study of media environments, is a perspective that is concerned with the social, cultural, and psychological impact of media and technology”. Postman uses theoretical critique to try and prove that computer-based media is educational in the classrooms. He uses television as an example to prove his theory about computer media for an educational medium.



Bennett, S. (1999). Media Ecology Association. Retrieved March 24, 2008, from




Bennett, along with the Media Ecology Association, examine that both technology and technique play a leading role in the relationship between the study of media environments and its communication with human affairs. With a special interest in looking at the merging environments, Bennett draws conclusion upon the era of unpredictable change from two main media ecologists; Christine Nystrom and Neil Postman. Nystrom’s belief that media ecology is a “preparadigmatic science,” works in conjunction with Postman’s theory that media ecology is the study of “media as environment; (in which,) it tries to find out what roles media force us to play, how media structure what we are seeing, why media make us feel and act as we do” (Bennett). As the study continues, the association is spreading its goals and research by letter mail, an online website, journal publications and by holding California based conventions. Though research is still being conducted as daily life continues, Bennett summaries that the effect of media plays an inherent role on human behavior in the complex environment we all live and progress in. 


Carey, J. W. (1998).  The Internet and the end of the national communication system:

Uncertain predictions of an uncertain future. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 75(1), 28-34. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.


The author proposes predictions for the effects of the internet on America’s traditional national communication system, which was based on telegraphs and railroads. The traditional method of linking individuals with a centralized source of information and culture created a more unified nation, yet subdued the community and local agenda. With the wide and complex dimensions to the internet, Carey explains that the traditional method of control is not applicable to this new media. Separatist movements have struggle in the past, but their efforts are all the easier in the new medium. “This trajectory can be summarized in the following way: the Internet is at the center of the integration of a new media ecology that transforms the structural relations among older media, such as print and broadcasting, and integrates them to a new center around the defining technologies of computer and satellite.” Corporations strive to find ways to control the medium, but it is deeper and much more complex, spanning a global social network. This new media ecology develops by people’s national migrations, the formation of diasporic groups, and by online social groups.



Gencarelli, T. F. (2000).  The intellectual roots of media ecology on the thought and work of Neil Postman. New Jersey Journal Communication, 8 (1), 91-103. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.


The author discusses Neil Postman and his work and thought about how he put together and created the “theoretical framework for understanding media that has come to be known as media ecology.”  Neil Postman is the person most responsible for this theoretical framework for understanding media ecology.  The author states that the term media ecology was coined by Marshall McLuhan.  Although it was invented by Marshall McLuhan, Neil Postman was the one who really defined and expanded its meaning over the course of a career.  Neil Postman has a span of 24 books and innumerable articles. Postman with these books and articles created a theory of media of great significance and coherence and which continues to generate new thoughts and meanings.  The author explains Postman’s theory of media ecology as it is based in four themes that recur across his work which is media education, media/cultural conservatism, technological criticism, and general semantics or the study of language of medium/technology.


Gronbeck, B. E. ( 2000).  Communication media, memory, and social-political change in Eric Havelock. New Jersey Journal Communication, 8 (1), 34-45.


            Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.


The author explains that Eric Havelock is a classicist and that he is “often viewed as one of the strongest proponents of the so-called orality-literacy theses.”  The author describes Eric Havelock’s work as the foundational to the idea of media ecology.  Havelock’s most worthy noted contribution to the theory of media ecology, it is debated, is the “manner in which he makes moral codes and communication codes inseparable through a theory of memory. That inseparability allows the linking of the psychological and social life worlds and explains Plato's need to destroy traditional rhetoric and poetics.”  This article attempts to study Havelock’s theory about those relationships to specify his main contributions to “orality-literacy theorems” or other words are now being called theories of media ecology.  The author states that after reviewing Havelock’s theory it permits the “examination of human collectivities that triangulates to communication processes, the interiority of subjectivity and the exteriority of social-political organization.”


Lum C. M. K. (2005). Perspectives on culture, technology and communication: The media ecology tradition. New York, NY: Hampton Press.

Lum's book is an academic text requiring close examination and can be effectively used in the classroom.  Lum's task was not an easy one. How do you pick from the wide range of scholars that contribute to the media ecological tradition? Obviously, you start with the most cited James Carey, Jacques Ellul, Harold Innis, Susanne K. Langer, McLuhan, Ong, Postman, and Benjamin Lee Whorf--and go from there. The book does a good job of explaining the basic concepts these scholars brought to the intellectual tradition called media ecology. Artists will be particularly interested in Christine Nystrom's chapter, "Symbols, Thought, and 'Reality': The Contributions of Benjamin Lee Whorf and Susanne K. Langer," and John Power's chapter "Susanne Langer's Philosophy of Mind: Some Implications for Media Ecology." These chapters focus on different forms of representation and the role of symbolic meaning in media ecological studies. As Langer argues, the most basic features of anything exist in its form. It is the form of a medium rather than its content that molds and shapes our view of the world. This is the essence of media ecological thought.



MacDonald, M. (2006). Empire and communication: The media wars of Marshall McLuhan. Media, Culture & Society, 28 (4), 505-520. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.


 In Empire and Communication: The Media Wars of Marshall McLuhan, McLuhan talks about his views on media ecology and how it has affected societies. He is also criticized by other media ecologist (Paul Virilio and Friedrich Kittler), about his theories and views on certain ideas about media. McLuhan main theory in media is “the medium is the message; the medium is the massage; and the medium is the mass-age”. An example that he gives among others is that television has become a huge part in society; television is a medium, it can reach a mass of people in a short amount of time and space. Advertising in television can reach masses of people at the same time and can create the ideal consumer. McLuhan also touches on media and technology and how we are slowly but surely becoming technology ourselves an example of that would be implants, pace makers and mechanical prosthetic limbs.


McLuhan, E. (2000, June) In J. Sternberg and M. Lipton (Eds.) The Fordham Experiment. Media Ecology Association 1. Fordham University. Retrieved on April 1, 2008 from




In Eric McLuhan article "The Fordham Experiment", he describes his experiment demonstrating and identifying the differences between the effects of movie and the effects of television to an audience.  Eric McLuhan and Harley Parker took a group of their college students, divided them into two groups and separated them with a screen arranged in the middle of a classroom.  Both groups watched the same two films, but one side watched the screen with reflective light (movie) and the other watched light passing through the screen (television).  McLuhan and Parker showed two films, one with a strong plot and one without: Journey into History and Dream of the Wild Horses.  Students were asked to write a half page response displaying how they felt when watching.  Results reported that cinematic techniques, references to specific scenes, and objective references were felt more by those watching reflected light, but those watching light passing through the screen felt more involved—sensory, emotional and total involvement, and a loss of the awareness of time.  McLuhan concludes that his experiment successfully shows that there is a clear difference between the effects of movie watching and television watching.


Nevitt, B. (1981). Via media with Marshall  McLuhan. Kybernetes, 10(4), 235-240. Retrieved from Emerald Management Xtra database.


Marshall McLuhan spent much of his life exploring hitherto ignored psychological and social effects of technological innovation. MuLuhan demonstrated how to perceive hidden-process patterns of new environments which were endangered by human artifacts such as communication media. The researcher would use models and metaphors to organize ignorance for continuing discovery and invention, rather than   categorizing knowledge by establishing new concepts and theories. McLuhan recognized every artifact, software or hardware, as a communication medium that transforms its users.



Newhagen, J. E. (1998). Hitting the agenda reset button: Matching Internet research with development convergence. The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 4(4), 112-121. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.


Historically, the internet has been known to be the mass communication for media scholars. This article explains the phases and the life cycle of technology. It discusses how old theories are being added to new ones and is beginning to implement into new media research. When new media system develops, that is when fresh theories are adapted. Theories can quickly change due to new technology coming in, which means we have to refuse old theories and make new theories without looking on their use. As McLuhan anticipated, we view media research through the present like a “rear-view mirror”. There are ways to break out of this cycle; it is by asking the right questions when you know a change is taken place in media ecology. Some questions to ask would be “what is really new about the new technology?” and “what new technology distinguishes it from the old pattern?” These questions can help researchers build on new theories. The article is mainly about the media life cycle, from possible research under falls; at three stages “infancy, maturity, and decline”.




Ramos, L. (2000). Understanding literacy: Theoretical foundations for research in media


            ecology. New Jersey Journal of Communication, 8(1), 46-55. Retrieved from


Communications Abstracts database.


The article finds all major influential scholars to media theory, it draw strict attention to literacy. “From their study of literacy and its consequences, a set of theories and approaches developed that has provided media ecologists with frameworks with which to study all other media.” This article reviews the major works of Harold Innis, Eric Havelock, Marshall McLuhan, Jack Goody, Walter Ong, and Elizabeth Eisenstein, with a focus on developing writing systems and printing. The theories developed from the scholars are the framework for media ecology. The author concludes that Nystrom and Postman grieve the printed word and Meyrowitz and Levinson, are more enthusiastic. Interests in cultural and cognitive changes are influence, like all media ecologist, by these early scholars. The author touches on other themes present in the works of the framers of media ecology. Article states that the focus of literacy in media ecology theory is not the focus of all scholars, but that of this article. Author concludes that literacy is essential to understanding media ecological approaches to later media, such as radio, television, and computers.


Strate, L.  (2000). The Ecology of Association. Proceedings of the



Media Ecology Association, 1.  Retrieved on March 26, 2008 from







The author proposes the idea that human ecology is essential a communication ecology, in which all forms of media aid in the binding agent. Strate (2000) adds that with an emphasis on “ritual, ritual is the most basic technology through which we preserve knowledge and maintain social cohesion” (p. 2). Accordingly, the author adds that within such an ecology, “it is media that capture our attention and imagination, and it is through media that we understand other phenomena,” (Strate, 2000, p. 4) thus including human behavior. In a lasting thought, Strate (2000) concludes that “One of the most important ideas in the media ecology literature is that there are distinct media environments, and categories such as the oral, scribal, print, and electronic media environments, within which cultures grow and forms of consciousness evolve…[in which] any technology or extension of man creates a new environment or a medium as the message” (p. 6). Thus, the essential relationship between media and human ecology is that of a communication based society in which forms of technology aid in the balancing social cohesion and growth.




Strates, L., Lum, C. M. K. (2000).  Lewis Mumford and the ecology of technics. New Jersey Journal Communication, 8, (1), 56-78. Retrieved from Communications Abstracts database.



This article explores the start of media ecology as an “intellectual tradition and a theoretical perspective on the study of technology, media, and culture. “  Lewis Mumford’s scholarship focuses on three main portions that have factored into the foundation of media ecology.  These aspects are his epochal historiography of technology, the techno-organism in his thinking about technology and human development, and his critique of the megamachine.  The authors also talk about how Mumford was a “champion of rationality and planning.”  In the past it was concerned cynical but in today’s society it is quite modern.  Take into account that rational, logical approaches to the world had much to do with the dispersal of modern techniques and philosophy of the machine.  Mumford “saw an irrational drive to power at its core.”  The article ends with a discussion about the ecological morals in Mumford’s work, his life, and the activism embedded in his media ecology.  This applies to media ecology because Mumford’s scholarship has several works that have contributed to media ecology.


Tabbi J., Michael W. (1997). Reading matters: Narrative in the new media ecology. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.



It contains twelve exquisite essays in there original form and are published here in this book for the first time ever and are the works of numerous distinguished scholarly-critics on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. It covers a wide range of contemporary literature, from the canonical novels of high modernism and postmodernism through subjects and only recently put on the academic agendas, such as cyberpunk and hypertext fiction. In an age that has proclaimed the death of the novel many times over and over, the editors and contributors have argued persuasively for the continued vitality of the literary narrative. By responding in numerous nifty ways to the capabilities of other media, they assert, the novel has enlarged and redefined its territory of representation and its range of techniques and play, while maintaining its viability in the new media assemblage.




Zimmer, M. (2005). Media ecology and value sensitive design: A combined


approach to understanding the biases of Media technology.  Proceedings of the



Media Ecology Association, 6, 1-10.  Retrieved on March 26, 2008


from: http://www.media-ecology.org/publications/MEA_proceedings/v6 /Zimme 





The author discusses how interest, in the biases of technologies. It has driven a supposed link between media ecology and how human beings stand, from a moral stand point. Zimmer continues to explain in conjunction with Postman’s view that media ecology exists to further provide insight into how we behave morally as human beings, in a rather humanistic point of view. Zimmer (2005) adds to that that “value sensitive design would gain the rich intellectual tradition of media ecology and expand its investigations into other media technologies beyond those directly related to computer and information technology” (p. 10).  Accordingly, in a concluding statement, the author finalizes with that media ecology and value sensitive design’s humanistic point of view would “invite productive reconceptualization of the ‘biases of media’, strengthen both traditions, and contribute to the development of a comprehensive and methodologically rich investigation of biases in media technologies” (p. 10). Thus, media ecology would offer insight into the connection with how human beings act in coordination with their moral beliefs.


(Blue Team, Spring 2008)


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