Friday, April 21, 2006

What does McLuhan add to composition studies?

A real awareness of the environment children emerge from, and the effects that environment has on schooling. I guess we have some of that in comp studies, but I love his description of how children love to find things. He isn't a theorist in the way that Derrida, perhaps Foucault, others are theorists. He didn't very often start with an argument about a text--he started with an observation about the world. He started with where his students were at--compositionists should find a kindred spirit, a generous pedagoical spirit in his work.

A comprehensive vocabulary. I am not sure that anybody else in the field has offered such a comprehensive vocabulary. I am pretty consistently able to draw on his extensive vocabularly to understand a technology or genre and why it works, why it presents challenges, why it needs to be understood in the context of a media ecology. Blogging: hot genre, largely visual space (which means textual), the potential for acousitic blogging is hard to reach (where's the conversation), time consuming, better social networking software available, return on investment low for all except the writers, not likely to draw in and enage the non-writers, except those who see its social / therapeutic dimensions rather than writerly dimension. Blogging a figure on the educational / media radar for a while, now receeding into ground, getting used in ways that aren't about "blogging." Just getting used as a tool.

The medium is the massage. I can't believe how the "cutting edge" of new media studies is currently "discovering" the materiality of new media, and never discovering it through McLuhan, never pushing it past where he was at in 1964. All they are discovering is media ecology, sort of, and that the medium is in fact the message. Wow! So how do I make this point without just loosing my cool? I gotta go back and figure out what he really adds beyond what these contemporary scholars are saying. focus on KH and AFW? Others?

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