Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (Understanding Media Ecology) By

Since having some familiarity with Strate’s work, I was interested to see this volume to get his view on the current status of the Medial Ecology field and its possible direction. Early on the author indicates his intent to provide an introduction for those new as well as those already involved with such learning for continuing work as scholars and practitioners. His aim is to offer a new synthesis of foundational concepts for this interdisciplinary and communication centered study of media as environments.

After recapping some of the pioneering work in the field by such luminaries as Marshall McLuhan (University of Toronto), Neil Postman (New York University) and Walter Ong (St. Louis University) in a Preface and Introduction, Strate goes on to convey the “Intersections” among related disciplines and his way of “Understanding Media Ecology.” In the following chapters, he sets forth various means of describing the “Human Condition,” a “Medium” (communication vehicle, technology or other human innovation), its “Bias” (or tendencies), its “Effects” (or social impacts), and the ways it shapes its “Environment.” Finally, the author brings together these ideas into some suggested “Tools” that can be used for media analysis and per his “Conclusion” possible advancement of our knowledge in this regard.

Given my management background, I particularly liked the Strate’s use of charts and diagrams which can also be viewed as summarizing the notions presented (not unlike Genosko’s 978-1433131219

Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition provides a long awaited and much anticipated introduction to media ecology, a field of inquiry defined as the study of media as environments. Lance Strate presents a clear and concise explanation of an intellectual tradition concerned with much than understanding media, but rather with understanding the conditions that shape us as human beings, drive human history, and determine the prospects for our survival as a species. Much than a summary, this book represents a new synthesis that moves the field forward in a manner that is both unique and unprecedented, and simultaneously grounded in an unparalleled grasp of media ecology's intellectual foundations and its relation to other disciplines. Taking as its subject matter life, the universe, and everything, Strate describes the field as interdisciplinary and communication centered, provides a detailed explication of McLuhan's famous aphorism, the medium is the message, and explains that the human condition can only be understood in the context of our biophysical, technological, and symbolic environments. Strate provides an in depth examination of media ecology's four key terms: medium, which is defined in much broader terms than in other fields; bias, which refers to tendencies inherent in materials and methods; effects, which are best understood via the Aristotelian notion of formal causality and contemporary systems theory; and environment, which includes the distinctions between the oral, chirographic, typographic, and electronic media environments. A chapter on tools serves as a guide to further media ecological research and scholarship. This book is well suited for graduate and undergraduate courses on communication theory and philosophy. Media Ecology: An Approach to Understanding the Human Condition (Understanding Media Ecology)

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