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New Media, Communication, and Society

A Fast, Straightforward Examination of Key Topics

Mary Ann Allison and Cheryl A. Casey

New Media, Communication, and Society is a fast, straightforward examination of key topics which will be useful and engaging for both students and professors. It connects students to wide-ranging resources and challenges them to develop their own opinions. Moreover, it encourages students to develop media literacy so they can speak up and  make a difference in the world. Short chapters with lots of illustrations encourage reading and provide a springboard for conversation inside and outside of the classroom. Wide-ranging topics spark interest. Chapters include suggestions for additional exploration, a media literacy exercise, and a point that is just for fun. Every chapter includes thought leaders, ranging from leading researchers to business leaders to entrepreneurs, from Socrates to Doug Rushkoff and Lance Strate to Bill Gates.

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9 Hearing and Seeing Different Societies (Mary Ann Allison)

Extract

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CHAPTER 9

Hearing and Seeing Different Societies

Mary Ann Allison

Media environments

The media environment in which an individual or a society exists plays a significant role in shaping the person or society. But until something draws our attention to our media environment or we’re prevented from using it (by, for example, losing a mobile phone), we rarely notice it. As media theorist Marshall McLuhan wrote, “Fish don’t know water exists till beached” (1970, p. 191).

Because we humans are social animals, our communication media affect us as much as our physical environment does. But we often don’t notice how much difference various communication technologies make in our lives. Like air, unless it is polluted or missing, the technology is just there. And because it is there, most of the time we use it.

Even more rarely do we consider how a different media environment might affect us or others, or whether there is a particular communication environment we might prefer.

Media ecology: The study of media environments

Some media scholars (and I am one), called media ecologists, study the ways in which different types of media technologies and customs affect our daily lives. Clearly societies in which most people have access to the Internet via personal computers or mobiles are unlike—in some important way—societies in which radios are the most powerful communication technology available to most people.

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