Week 3: Mind-mapping ‘Media Ecologies’

This week as I read through the prescribed course readings I found that I was swamped with a lot of information about the concept of ‘ecologies’ and ‘media ecologies’. To help me with my understanding I created a mind map of the concepts explored in each reading using bubbl.us. Please see the mind map below for a detailed exploration of ‘Media Ecology’. The references for each section are provided in the mind map- ‘Reading _’ and are correctly referenced below.

Media Ecology mind map created by Annabelle Stackpole March 2013

Media Ecology mind map created by Annabelle Stackpole March 2013

My thoughts on media ecologies:

1- I believe it is important to note that Marshall McLuhan’s explanation of media ecology states that ‘media act as extensions of the human senses in each era’ (Wikipedia 2013). Each era implies that the theory is not just concentrating on the world as we know it now, it can be studied by looking at any period in history and how the communication technologies that were present at that specific point in time impacted humans and therefore resulted in some form of social change.

I think this is important to note as prior to looking at this concept in depth, I myself only thought about how the technology that exists now, being digital media, and how it impacts human life.

When I did some further research into the history of communications technologies I found that communication technologies can be classified into six stages according to Walter Ong (Theo 2011). These include:

  1. Orality (talking only)
  2. Early Writing (pictorial writing then eventually phoentic alphabets, “craft literacy”, parchment)
  3. Later Writing (scrolls then early bound books i.e. codices)
  4. Early Print (Gutenberg and friends)
  5. Later Print (the mass market begins)
  6. Electric (Telegraph, telephone)
  7. Electronic (TV and radio)
  8. Digital (internet, cell phones)

Source: Theo 2011

I myself was only considering the sixth and discounting how the concept of ‘media ecology’ can be applied to the five that came before ‘digital’ communication technologies. I did not consider earlier periods where technologies such as rock paintings, letters, telegrams, books, the telephone etc. were used as the technologies of communication. When I acknowledge this, I realise that these earlier communication technologies compared to what the world has at present affected humans perceptions, feeling, understanding and values very differently.

As an example, today humans value communication technologies that provide instantaneous information and value the ability to gather information from a wide variety of sources. In earlier periods for example the early twentieth century, people could only rely on a limited number of technologies for their supply of information which meant this information and the opinions presented in it is what singularly fed their understanding of events that were occurring in their environment, a concept explored by Milissa Deitz (2010). This is compared to the present time where we read, see and hear news of an event nearly instantaneously and can gather numerous pieces of information and others opinions about it through digital technology (for example in blogs, social media, mainstream media, celebrities, politicians) no matter where we are located in the world.

2- Through my research, I have also read information about media ecologies that state that the communication technologies that are the focus of this theory ‘control’ society (Wikipedia 2013). I think the use of this word in relation to the theory can have quite a negative connotation when said. I think the word ‘influence’ is more appropriate to use, as the concept deals with how human’s perceptions, feelings, values and understanding of things can be shaped by media communication technologies which therefore has an influence on their lives I understand, rather than controlling it.

My thoughts about the way all this information contributes to the development of my final research project:

The concept of ecology and then media ecology was quite difficult to get my head around this week, however I understand that it is simply just a way of thinking about something and the relations that stem from this. I am not sure whether this specific topic is something that really interests me, however this week I really thought about last weeks ideas of machinic flow and technological determinism. Although I did not blog last week these concepts really interest me and I have a lot of unanswered questions as to how these concepts relate to specific technologies humans currently use and technologies that will be used in the future. I would like to possibly explore these theories in my own time and I think it would be a good starting point for my individual research.


Deitz, M 2010, ‘The New Media Ecology’, On Line Opinion: Australia’s e-journal of social and political debate, accessed 17 March 2013 <http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=11410&page=1>

Media Ecology Association 2009, ‘What is Media Ecology’, Media Ecology Association, accessed 17 March 2013 <http://www.media-ecology.org/media_ecology/>

Theo 2011, ‘What is Media Ecology’, Digital Theology, Theo Digital, accessed 17 March 2013 <http://www.theodigital.com/digital-theology/what-is-media-ecology>

Wikipedia 2013, ‘Media Ecology’, Wikipedia, accessed 17 March 2013, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_ecology>

Word: Machinic


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