On the coat-tails of the brief look and Michael Baxandall’s analysis of renaissance art, it is only appropriate to add something about Canadian media theorist Marshall McLuhan both to our on-going discussion (please comment) and to our blog roll.
McLuhan is famous for having stated that “the media is the message”, considering anything that extends our basic senses to be media, thus anything from the shovel to internet to interact with human sensory perception as a form of extension. The important thing was to understand the “ratio” or proportions of the relationship between the extension and the psycho-neural sense itself. In this context, in many cases the medium becomes the message as the relational ratio increases to the point that the significance of the extension to both the individual and the contextual community becomes more important than the psycho-neural perception of the original “sender” or “receiver”.
McLuhan also theorised that while media may act as an extension, it may also cause “amputation” of human perception. Simply put, although media has many advantages to our ability to interact with our environments, overstressing one form of media may curtail or damage other forms of sensory perception. You all remember Mom telling you that “if you stare at that TV all day your eyes will become fixed like that”. I notice a direct relationship between the amount of TV my kids watch and their ability to interact civily and appropriately in non-network life.
The implications for those of us who use blogs and multi-media classrooms are serious. Where to find the balance? How to measure success? I always check my blogs for comments, often to be disappointed that there are none. Is this failure? Not really. Multi-media must be used in proportion to the messages intended. It must be used as an extension. Overuse may lead to perceptory amputation. This has significant implications for cultural understanding too. In Italy, with Italian students used to easy interaction in piazza and a high degree of “physical” or direct communication, there is probably less impetus to comment on blogs. This is very normal.
but I still like comments! Heh heh – consider the act of making a comment as an act of inter-cultural communication!