Posts Tagged ‘media’
45 years ago, four eminences took the stage at the University of Toronto: Irish actor Jack MacGowran, best known for his interpretations of Samuel Beckett; English poet and dramatist W.H. Auden; American architect and theorist of humanity’s way of life Buckminster Fuller; and Canadian literary scholar turned media technology oracle Marshall McLuhan. Now only did all four men come from different countries, they came from very different points on the intellectual and cultural map. The CBC recorded them for broadcast on its long-running series Ideas, prefacing it with an announcement that “the ostensible subject of their discussion is theatre and the visual arts.”
Key word: ostensible. “That topic is soon forgotten as two modes of perception clash,” says the announcer, “that of Professor McLuhan, who is one of the most famous interpreters of contemporary 20th-century cultural trends, and that of W.H. Auden, who cheerfully admits to being ‘a 19th-century man’ and sees no reason to change.” And so, though Fuller and MacGowan do occasionally provide their perspective, the panel turns into a rollicking debate between McLuhan and Auden, more or less from the point where the former — making one of his characteristically compelling proclamations — declares that modern media brings us to a world in which “there is no audience. There are only actors.” But the latter objects: “I profoundly disapprove of audience participation.”…
The conversation is above; for more of the backstory: “Marshall McLuhan, W.H. Auden & Buckminster Fuller Debate the Virtues of Modern Technology & Media (1971).
* Aldous Huxley,
As we mind the message that is the medium, we might send tasty birthday wishes to John Montagu, Fourth Earl of Sandwich; he was born on this date in 1718. Lore suggests that the Earl, an enthusiastic gambler, instructed his servants to skip the distraction of a served meal, asking instead for “meat between two pieces of bread” to be consumed as he remained at the gaming table. While there’s no real historical support for the tale, the comestible is nonetheless still known as a “sandwich.”
Montagu also had a nautical edge, serving as First Lord of the Admiralty from 1771-1782. He was sufficiently regarded that Captain Cook named the Sandwich Islands in his honor. On the other hand, he was widely blamed for the sorry state of readiness displayed by the British Navy during the “Unpleasantness with the Colonies.” (Indeed, it may in gratitude for Montagu’s help– however inadvertent– that American’s have adopted the sandwich as our national dish…)
“If it weren’t for Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of television, we’d still be eating frozen radio dinners”*…
There’s no denying that newspapers are in jeopardy; emerging electronic media have eaten away at both their audiences and their advertising revenue. But lest we count them altogether out, we might remind ourselves that folks have been predicting their demise for decades.
From the March 1922 issue of Radio News magazine:
Seated comfortably in the club car of the Twenty-first Century Flyer — fast airplane service between London and New York — the president of the Ultra National Bank removes a small rubber disk from his vest pocket and places it over his ear. A moment hence, he will receive by radiophone the financial news of the world. Simultaneously, millions of other people all over the globe will receive the message. At designated hours, news of a general character will also be received.
The broadcasting of news by radiophone had long displaced the daily newspaper, and…
Don’t scoff! The day may be nearer than you suspect. In Hungary, a wire “telephone newspaper” has been successfully conducted for more than 25 years. For nearly a year, financial news direct from the Amsterdam Bourse has been broadcasted by radiophone to 200 banks and brokerage firms in Holland. And within a few months the German Government has installed near Berlin a wireless telephone station for the broadcasting of general news on a regular daily schedule throughout the entire country.
More on the premature reports of the death of the newspaper at “1922: Radio Will Kill the Newspaper Star.” (See also “The Newspaper of Tomorrow: 11 Predictions from Yesteryear.”
* Johnny Carson
As we strap on our jet-packs, we might recall that it was on this date two years earlier, in 1920, that Scientific American got a forecast powerfully right; in an issue cover-dated the following day, it made then-bold prediction that radio would be come an important medium for delivering music.
It has been well known for some years that by placing a form of telephone transmitter in a concert hall or at any point where music is being played the sound may be carried over telephone wires to an ordinary telephone receiver at a distant point, thus enabling those several miles away to listen to the music. Such systems have been in use in London between a number of the theaters and hotels for many years, but it is only recently that a method of transmitting music by radio has been found possible.
It has now been discovered that music can be transmitted by wireless in the same manner as speech or code signals and as a result of research work on radio telephony at the Bureau of Standards it has been proven that music sent by this means does not lose its quality. It is, therefore, obvious that music can be performed at any place, radiated into the air through an ordinary radio transmitting set and received at any other place, even though hundreds of miles away. The music received can be made as loud as desired by suitable operation of the receiving apparatus. The result is perhaps not so very different from that secured by means of the ordinary telephone apparatus above mentioned, but the system is far simpler and does not require the use of any intermediate circuit. The entire feasibility of centralized concerts has been demonstrated and in fact such concerts are now being sent out by a number of persons and institutions. Experimental concerts are at present being conducted every Friday evening from 8:30 to 11:00 by the Radio Laboratory of the Bureau of Standards. The wave length used is 500 meters. This music can be heard by any one in the territory near the District of Columbia having a simple amateur receiving outfit. The possibilities of such centralized radio concerts are great and extremely interesting. One simple means of producing music for radio transmission is to play a phonograph into the radio transmitter. An interesting improvement upon this method is being utilized in the experiments at the Bureau. The carbon microphone, which is the mouthpiece of an ordinary telephone, is mounted on the phonograph in place of the usual vibrating diaphragm. As a result the phonograph record produces direct variations of electric current in the telephone apparatus instead of producing sound; thus while the music is not audible at the place where the phonograph record is being played, it is distinctly heard at the different receiving stations.
As 2009 draws to a close, and we do our best, with an eye to a better 2010, to learn from our errors, the good folks at Regret the Error have helpfully compiled “Crunks 2009: The Year in Media Errors and Corrections.”
It features such capital corrections as this, from the British Medical Journal:
During the editing of this Review of the Week by Richard Smith (BMJ 2008;337:a2719,doi:10.1136/bmj.a2719), the author’s term “pisshouse” was changed to “pub” in the sentence: “Then, in true British and male style, Hammond met Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, in the pub and did a deal.” However, a pisshouse is apparently a gentleman’s toilet, and (in the author’s social circle at least) the phrase “pisshouse deal” is well known. (It alludes to the tendency of men to make deals while standing side by side and urinating.) In the more genteel confines of the BMJ Editorial Office, however, this term was unknown and a mistake was made in translating it into more standard English. We apologise for any misunderstanding this may have caused.
And this, from the Los Angeles Times:
Bear sighting: An item in the National Briefing in Sunday’s Section A said a bear wandered into a grocery story in Hayward, Wis., on Friday and headed for the beer cooler. It was Thursday.
… Such exalted errata (and consequent apologia) as this, from The Sun (UK):
In my column on August 22 I suggested that Sharon Osbourne was an unemployed, drugaddled, unfit mum with a litter of feral kids. This was not intended to be taken literally. I fully accept she is none of these things and sincerely apologise to Sharon and her family for my unacceptable comments. Sorry Sharon…
…Such terrific typos as this, from The Daily Universe, a student paper at BYU:
In printed copies of Monday’s Daily Universe, due to a spelling error in a photo caption, the word “apostles” was replaced with a different word. The Daily Universe apologizes to the Quorum of the Twelve and our readers for the error.
(The spelling error appeared in a photo caption in which the word “apostle” was rendered as “apostate.” In referring to activities at the General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last weekend, the caption read in part, “Members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostates and other general authorities raise their hands in a sustaining vote…”)
And it features some exquisite headlines of the poorly-chosen sort, like the one at the top of this post and this particularly tasteless use of the First Children:
See more in each of these categories and others (e.g., Sources, Misquotes, Hoax) here.
As we wonder how many of the wounds afflicting the traditional press are self-inflicted, we might recall that it was on this date in 1916 that James Joyce’s semi-autobiographical Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in New York (having been previously serialized in Ezra Pound’s review The Egoist). It was published in the UK the following year.
Your correspondent’s time in the land of consistent snow and occasional power continues; so per earlier alerts, (Roughly) Daily is unlikely to be roughly daily again until early in the New Year…