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Week Two—Media Revolutions

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Media, Social and Cultural Change—The Third Media Revolution—Thinking with It, Working with It

Lecture recordings provided elsewhere. All are highly recommended. The second two, on the second and third media revolutions, are required. The first is optional. However, I recommend it as it’s on the first media revolution (writing) and on media and communications in general. It will provide a good overview of many relevant issues if you listen to it.

Two of the videos mentioned (Sonic Sea and Amazon Go) are below in the required preparations for this week.

The other two are:

Footage of Elizabeth Eisenstein discussing the printing press as agent of change

The Guardian (2017) The Intelligence Explosion, February 20, (a short dramatisation of a meeting that includes a very sophisticated robot) 


Media, Social and Cultural Change—The Third Media Revolution—Thinking with It, Working with It

Do the readings, engage with the videos and explore the sites for this week. Read carefully through the Course Outline.

Note that it’s a good idea to have written a blog entry before the class this week. If you haven’t you will find it more difficult to fulfil the requirements for Assessment Task 1. Get organised now!

This week is an introduction to how the course works and to some of the main themes. What are advanced media issues? What do you know about media and communications so far?

This weeks’ tutorial is based on both Week One’s lecture and this week’s lecture.

Tutorial Activities: 

1. Introductions, questions about the course, etc.

2. Initial discussion of media, cultural and social change, and of the various concepts and practices that could be named “media” or “communication”, based on lectures and readings. Conceptual Speed Dating.

3. Mind-mapping. If you don’t know what mindmapping is, it’s essentially mapping out the parts of an idea or issue or research topic, and drawing in the links (you can also look at the section on Visual Note-Taking in the Resources section on the front of the Course Moodle page—not exactly the same as Mind-mapping but it’s close!). You can get software to do this, some of it free, but you can just as easily do it with pen and paper (I use pen and paper or the commercial software Scapple I also make a lot of sound notes, using phone Apps.We can talk about how you might do this non-visually if you’re interested. I then transcribe them using Dragon dictation software (which is not free but you can use the Mac OS for this, although it’s not quite as good) Some useful links for mindmapping if you’re interested:

Mindmap everything you know (theories etc), in as much detail as possible, about the relations between media, culture and society. Then start a new map. Mindmap everything you do at the junction of media, culture and society, individually and in social groups. Compare these two maps. Is there a relationship between them? Have you seen connections between the theories and the world you’re actually immersed in? Where are there points of friction between what you think or believe (or have been told in classes) about how things work, and what you actually do, or how you actually experience media, cultural and social change?

4. Discussion of media and communications theories and thinkers you are familiar with then compare that with and more recent ideas discussed in the readings, videos and sites for this week—group work and/or general class discussion.

Required Readings/Explorations: These are here to get you to begin to think about the history and present of ideas about media and communications from as many perspectives as possible. This looks like a lot but in fact it’s only about 31 pages of reading, about 10 minutes of video and three web sites to look at for five minutes. All this will give you a good way into the course.

A general hint: if a reading is easy, slow down a little around the main points so you remember them. If a reading is hard, slow down a little (or even a lot) so you can give the ideas enough time to emerge for you. Spend time with sentences or paragraphs that appeal to you, that you don’t understand, or possibly both at the same time. Changing speed sometimes opens up thinking.

Amazon (2016) ‘Introducing Amazon Go and the world’s most advanced shopping technology’,, December 5,

[pdf elsewhere] Murphie, Andrew (2017—unpublished) ‘The Third Media Revolution (ARTS3091 version)’ [note that you only have to read pages 1-4, down to “his new work is titled “Tsunami”]

[online] Jeffries, Stuart (2011) ‘Friedrich Kittler and the rise of the machine’, The Guardian, December 28, <> [on perhaps the most famous of the “German media theorists”]

online] Carigan, Mark (2014) ‘Philosophy of Data Science series – Noortje Marres: Technology and culture are becoming more and more entangled’, LSE Impact of Social Sciences blog, December 3, <> [on digital culture, society and the way methods of research are being transformed for everyone]

[online] Parikka, Jussi (2013) ‘The Geology of Media’, The Atlantic, October 11, <> [on media and the environment]

[online] Thacker, Eugene (2003) ‘What is Biomedia?’, Configurations, 11(1), you only need to read the one page beginning of this, which is online at <> (the full article is available via the library)

[online] the two short trailers for Werner Herzog’s documentary Lo and Behold, which you can find here—<>

[online] Judge, Jenny and Powles, Julia (2015) ‘Forget the internet of things – we need an internet of people’, the Guardian, May 25, <>

[online] Represent (digital democracy site using phone apps to organise democratically at a grass roots level)

[online] ‘Data Selfie’ (giving you back your Facebook data)

[online Brandt, Michael (2016) ‘AirPods Aren’t Headphones, They’re Apple’s First Implants’,, September 22,

[online] CloudServices (an art technology project that considers the junction of world and information—watch the CloudServices Preview to see how it works, linking clouds, bacteria, DNA, and information transfer through the natural environment),

[online] Anon, (2016) ‘Wolf Species have Howling Dialects’, University of Cambridge, February 8,

[online] NRDCFlix (2016) Sonic Sea (trailer),, February 18,  [about the sound pollution of the ocean and how this affects whales and other marine animals—this is a great example of the conflict between the ‘world as medium’ and the ‘becoming-environmental of power’ discussed in the Third Media Revolution reading above]

[pdf elsewhere] Gaglianoabc, Monica, Rentoncd, Michael, Duvdevania, Nili, Timminse, Matthew & Mancusof, Stefano (2012) ‘Acoustic and magnetic communication in plants: Is it possible?’ Plant Signaling & Behavior, 7(10): 1346-1348

[online] McGowan, Kat (2013) ‘How Plants Secretly Talk to Each Other’,, December 20, <>

[online] Flemin, Nic (2014) ‘Plants talk to each other using an internet of fungus’, BBC Earth, November 11, <>

Extra Resources (not required)

[online] The highest recommendation of any in the extra resources for the course. These “lectures” by McKenzie Wark—in fact, shortish and intelligent critical summaries of key media thinkers—is well worth reading your way through. They’re all good but I especially recommend: Cory Doctorow, Lev Manovich, Tiziana Terranova, Wendy Chun, Alex Galloway, Benjamin Bratton, Lisa Nakamura, Kodwo Eshun, Jussi Parikka (A Geology of Media) and Keller Easterling.

[online] Evans, Philip and Forth, Patrick (2015) ‘Borges’ map: Navigating a World of Digital Disruption’, bcg.perspectives, <>  [highly recommended—a business perspective on digital disruption]

[pdf elsewhere] Murphie, Andrew and Potts, John (2003) ‘Theoretical Frameworks’ in Culture and Technology London: Palgrave Macmillan: 11-38 [a brief history of ideas about culture, technology and media]

[online] Rathi, Akshat (2017) ‘Scientists have caught viruses talking to each other—and that could be the key to a new age of anti-viral drugs’, Quartz, January 22,

[online] Go to the Canadian Broadcasting Site Archives and watch/listen to the material on McLuhan. <> [view at least one of these short clips]

[online] Theory, Culture & Society (2013) ’Interview with Celia Lury, Luciana Parisi and Tiziana Terranova on Topologies’, Theory, Culture & Society, January 15, <>. [This is one of the more difficult readings on the course, on topology, society and media. However, two paragraphs are key: 1. the paragraph beginning ‘The claim we make in the introduction is that we no longer live in or experience movement or transformation as the transmission of fixed forms in space and time but rather …’ and 2. the paragraph beginning ‘The question of political subjectivation in network culture is of course crucial for thinking the common as alternative to neoliberalism…’ (‘subjectivation involves the way our sense of self in relation to what we can do in the world comes about, or is produced by our social and technical circumstances)]. Topology in mathematics and social theory is to do with the way aspects of the world can be constantly deformed, bent around like elastic, folded over itself, etc and still have some recognisable qualities (even if these might change over time). As Lury, Parisi and Terranova write here, thinking in terms of topology allows us to understand an important quality of the contemporary world. This is that ‘…we no longer live in or experience movement or transformation as the transmission of fixed forms in space and time but rather movement—organised in terms of ordering and continuity of transformation—composes the forms of social life itself’.