Posted by: robertheinz | November 12, 2012

Is it the media’s nature or our media’s nurture?

While reading the first six chapters of The Shallows by Nicholas Carr, I couldn’t stop finding parallels to my own media consumption habits. But even before reading this book I started wondering if this is a common phenomenon among digital natives. The changes of the plasticity of our brain as well as how our synapses fire and wire together due to the media we consume, might after all be only one site of the story. The “socially constructed” side of media use might just be as important for our media literacy.

Whenever a revolutionary technology comes around, we first have to learn its perks and features, having to learn how to effectively utilize it, and coming up with proper media etiquette. Have you ever wondered how the first telephone conversations have sounded like at the time of Graham Bell? They probably sounded just as formal as written letters, driving Bell laboratories to launch a giant telephone etiquette campaign. This process still takes place today. Who has not spent some time wondering about Do’s and Don’ts in social networks or how inefficient e-mails can be for problem-solving? Any particular media might just become what we make out of it.

What impact does this have on our knowledge of media effects? Can we even distinguish between the nature of media and its socially constructed use?

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