On e²mc we’re thinking through the various meanings of “media ecology.”
The first, chronologically, is the medium theory of Harold Innis, Marshall McLuhan, Walter Ong, and others — sometimes called the Toronto School of communication theory. Neil Postman’s “New York school” can be considered a more critical and pessimistic adjunct to this tradition.
As a second tradition I’ve lumped together the so-called “cultural environmentalism” of public domain defenders like James Boyle and Lawrence Lessig — which embraces the open-source, open-access, and “free culture” movements — with the “mental environmentalism” of culture jammers like Adbusters. The first is a movement led by legal theorists engaged in internet, digital media, and intellectual property debates. The second comes out of a left-wing critical theory tradition, with one foot in the neo-Marxist Frankfurt School and a second in the more anarchist-leaning Situationist milieu.
The third strand we’ll be exploring is the more recent revival of ideas of media ecology — the plural “media ecologies” is preferred here — by theorists like Matt Fuller, Mark Hansen, and Jussi Parikka. Their work is indebted to the ones mentioned above, but also strongly rooted in the (post-)poststructuralist “new materialisms” of philosophers like Deleuze and Guattari, among others.
Join us there for links to readings and videos, as well as discussion and debate (which anyone is welcome to participate in).