In both McLuhan and William’s readings, there is extensive discussion, analysis, and criticism centered on the relationship between technology and human society. Both readings try to explain the role of technology in the development of the society. More specifically, the readings try to identify the role of technology in determining the outcome of events.
The two readings exploit media and technological determinism as the tools utilized in influencing events in the society. McLuhan argues that there is a need for dominant medium of communication. This view places high significance on mediums such as the radio, television, and the internet. McLuhan further argues that the dominant medium provokes real societal change.
It is difficult to identify differences between technological determinism and media determinism since they contain many similarities. However, there are slight differences with the concepts. Reading Raymond William’s article brings out the concept under technological determinism. In the reading, technological determinism tends to insinuate that it is technology that affects social events. Therefore, the emphasis is on the effects of technology instead of the medium. However, there is an overlap between the terms since one can argue that technology is the medium.
Contrary to the views held by McLuhan, Williams believes that social change and progression in the society are brought about by development and implementation of new technological inventions. Therefore, under technological determinism, technology is responsible progression in the society. William also gives alternatives to technological determinism. He calls these alternatives symptomatic technology, which achieve deterministic status depending on the purpose used. This means that the effects of technology do not result from the technology itself, but its practical use in society. The argument has been used by William to support the claim that use of television improves consumer economy. The alternative approach puts technology in a secondary position in determining social change.
It is interesting to note that Williams assumes people to be all knowing. This means that people allow medium into their lives knowing its effects. However, this argument is not true as nobody can predict all the effects of using a new medium. On the other hand, McLuhan believes that people purchase TV sets to be part of their lives for its ability to engage visual and auditory senses. This means it is difficult to perceive the more subtle effects of using TV, which we do not want to be exposed to.
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There is a notion that content of what is aired is what makes us watch TV. People get addicted to certain programs that tend to give most pleasure and sense of power. For instance, in the United States series Community, “Remedial Chaos theory” is the third episode of the third season. The episode received many positive reviews with many praising its unconventional structure.
The episode can be termed as participatory. The structure of the episode reveals how different characters relate to each other depending on the situation at hand. The episode shows how conditions change with the exit of any of the characters. It also demonstrates how some characters do get along easily, how some find difficulty getting along with others, and the ultimate requirement for everyone to work together. The episode may demonstrate how difficult it is to predict effects of TV on an individual as argued by McLuhan.
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