Tag Archives: media

Who’s Going to Save Us?

By Jen Sorensen

By Jen Sorensen

Your sign hosts the other major conjunction that bookends this year: Jupiter conjunct Saturn, the traditional ruler of Aquarius. That event is exact on Dec. 21, 2020. Before we get to that stunning conjunction, Saturn enters your sign on March 21. So you’ll have much of this year to get busy discovering Saturn’s gifts — which can be considerable.
Your 2020-21 Aquarius Astrology Studio is now available for instant access. The Astrology Studio is a perfect complement to the Respect annual edition, and a great birthday gift for yourself or the Aquarius you love. You may order it here.

Configuring Ground (for kids!)

Or, Have You Talked to Your Children About Media?

By Andrew McLuhan

Taught a grade 5/6 class in rural Ontario on Friday (January 15th, 2016). Ten- and 11-year-olds. An introduction to thinking about the effects, as opposed to simply the uses, of technology — which is what the point or goal of “media literacy” should be. Critical engagement. Media Criticism. This was the first time anyone had talked to them in such terms. It is both a privilege and a responsibility.

Figure and Ground: a technique for seeing the whole situation

We talked about ‘figure and ground’ where ‘figure’ is any given technology (like smart phones) and ‘ground’ is everything that goes along with it — electricity, software, manufacturing, education, internet, networks, money, et cetera — all the things that make the technology possible, and all the things that the technology makes possible. ‘Ground’ here is what is meant by ‘medium’ in the McLuhan sense — “an environment of services and disservices”.

An example of Marshall McLuhan’s annotation for ‘figure/ground’, from his library.

An example of Marshall McLuhan’s annotation for ‘figure/ground’, from his library.

We spent quite a while making a white board fill with examples of those things needed for the smart phone to work. Also, all the things we use it for. The youngsters were engaged and having fun.

Then we talked about what would it look like if tomorrow smart phones didn’t work, and weren’t going to work. What would the effect be on their lives, on the world?

Then the internet. What would their lives be like without the internet?

Then electricity. What if we took away electricity?

The point being, that there’s a whole range of things to consider about technology, aside from the obvious i.e. what we can do with them. Technologies change the world, change us. Before you know it, they’re such a part of our lives that we’d be almost helpless without them. They change us socially, and neurologically.

The point being, that considering the ‘bigger picture’ (ground) allows us to make informed choices — fair trade, vegetarianism, shopping locally. Consumers have choices to make which can impact not just their immediate lives. Developers have choices to make as well, that have serious consequences. And if we ever got our stuff together on a large scale, we could decide what we want our societies to be like rather than coping with the fallout from the consequences of decisions we didn’t know we were making. I know, big words.

The point being, that it’s high time we started conversations like this with young people.

I left them with this distillation of that discussion: “We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” They got it immediately.

Andrew McLuhan is the grandson of Marshall McLuhan and a great friend of Planet Waves. This piece originaly appeared on the site Medium.com on Jan. 16, 2016. Please share any comments you may have here, or you may reach Andrew at andrew@umeom.com

Amy Goodman: How The Media Is Ruining This Election

This simple video from AJ+ has gone viral, and with good reason. It’s had 10 million plus clicks on Facebook. What is it? A courageous long-term activist telling the truth. In three minutes, Amy Goodman shows us all what we need to know about the media’s role in poisoning the 2016 elections.

We love you, Amy.