Elizabeth Ann’s Favorite Communication Technology Theory

The Spring 2010 semester is now in full force and this is my first official blog for my COMM Technology class. My professor has asked me to choose a “favorite” theory that best explains the impact of the evolution of technology on society throughout the history of mankind. I chose Marshall McLuhan’s theory on Technological Determinism. The reason I selected this theory is due mainly to the fact that it makes the most sense to me, as I was able to relate more to McLuhan’s ideas than the other theories mentioned. McLuhan said the “medium is the message”, explaining what the message states is not as important as how the message is communicated, (through which medium). This literature professor taught that technological development determines cultural and social change vs. humans as the driving force. After the lecture on this theory, I searched McLuhan on YouTube, as I was compelled to find out more about him and his teachings. I found and viewed some very interesting footage of lectures and interviews of the scholar.

My own perception of technology is some thing or process that someone invented or discovered that enables advancement of knowledge, enhancement of human life, or the progression of society. As I read about the theory of Technological Determinism, I was able to relate to the profound impact on society by such momentous advancements starting with the very first vocal sounds of oral communication, to communication through drawing, to the development of language, then writing. Writing then led to books, which led to the sharing of thoughts and knowledge. The printing press allowed for mass communication, which guided the evolution of newspapers, magazines, and the ability to more easily and quickly communicate nationally and globally. These events all contributed to the birth of education of the masses. Photography was then invented, which led to movies. The telegraph paved the way to telephones, radio, television, cable, satellite, and now the internet, which allows communication faster than we ever dreamt possible even just twenty years ago.

My rationalization is that these inventions each significantly impacted and shifted the behavior of society as a whole, which directed us on a path that we would not have gone had they not entered our lives. So, as McLuhan suggested, have these inventions caused cultural change? Have they shaped human life? Have they changed the way we perceive ourselves and the world around us? It is reasonable to say that the answer is yes.

My professor says that I am likely to change my mind on which communication technology theory makes the most sense by the end of this course. I do not doubt that prediction, as I have just touched on the very basics of these theories.

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