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Response to Understanding Media

I was usually slow in reading assignment not only because I read really slowly but also that it’s so easy to get me distracted from reading a book especialy while the laptop is on (for looking up words in the dictionary! seriously!). There was a fantastic stop motion animation which perfectly described my situation and I still love it. (Watch “Procrastination” by John Kelly.)

[end of procrastination]

Fairly speaking I’m doing much better with this book (than, of couse, Ong’s Orality and Literacy, I never post my response yet since I haven’t finished. It’s sad but I’m sure I would finish some day before the end of this semester ), and I really appreciated the chapter of “Media Hot and Cold”.

The “medium is the message” idea is like widely accepted these days. It feels like tendency that the medium itself becomes the point and (some) people are tending not to care about the “content”. Now we have an explanation fair enough that this is the message itself. Several years back almost all governmental departments are setting up websites just to follow the hype of “e-government”. So did education instititions with e-education thing. It’s more like a fashion to toss everything online and they made their point. But one thing I’m not sure about is that while the medium becomes the message, where should we look for the real/traditional content other than the manipulated message? Maybe have to be in a traditional medium?

The categorizing of media into cold and hot looks surprisingly practical. I’m totally in with the definition that “hot medium is one that extends one single sense in ‘high definition’ … the state of being well filled with data”. It’s interesting that radio was categorized as the hot media maybe it’s just “cooling” down after 60s.

While I’m thinking of categorizing the Web 2.0 hype and traditional Web 1.0 era online mediums, it’s becoming hard to get to a conclusion. The old school websites are static and scattered, and they required the visitors to “look into depths” and to compile the information themselves. It fulfills the definition of “cool media” of being low-fi and participation-required. Web 2.0 seems to be a bit confusing. The core value being collaboration and share, the Web 2.0 online services are looking for much more participation from their users, are they cool media then? My answer is no. The seemingly participation takes place at the production end of the media, at the broadcasting end these medias are definitely hi-fi and overwhelming for the perceivers. That’s why we are more and more bugged by the “information overload” and have to find a way out of there.

I especially like the ending statement of the chapter that:

So the hotting-up of one sense tends to effect hypnosis, and the cooling of all senses tends to result in hallucination.

I started a website in early 2007 for people to share their dreams. With the other cofounder we set up some basic principles of the website that 1) we moderate all submissions other than completely open sharing, 2) we do not encourage people to interprete the dreams in any form of “sign reading” or whatever. It now seems that we created a super “cold” media back then, and it would be wonderful if people get hallucination from our site.


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