Studio Lab #1: The Bias of Communication Media

A Tech114-D202 Laboratory Assignment

The four methods of communication we used were: Short Messaging Service (SMS, aka text messaging), Instant Messaging, Facebook, and written letters. The written letter was obviously the least technological of the four methods. Regardless of this fact, it was one of the easiest ways to transfer messages as nothing gets easier than passing along a small note. The technology involved in SMS made it one of the more difficult technologies to use. Mobile phone keypads are not ideal for typing out long messages and can be quite frustrating when time is of essence. Instant messaging and Facebook were both efficient as they allowed the use of full sized QWERTY keyboards to type out messages quickly.

One of the first things that caught our eyes in the McLuhan Playboy interview was the fact that the technologies of our time are almost invisible. He quotes, “Of the psychic and social effects of this technology as a fish of the water it swims,” shows how an average person is unaware of the presence of these technologies. This was interesting, as one of our group members utilised the SMS feature on his cell phone; this at first seemed odd as the first technology we were supposed to use was ‘cell phone.’ The point here is that SMS was so much a part of his life that he was oblivious to the fact that the usage of ‘cell phone’ meant ‘transmitting your voice over distances.’ Another point that stood out was that technology is an extension of our selves. One thinks of his/her hands as an extension of him/herself; they are always readily at hand (pun intended). When one needs them for something, they are always there. Likewise, when we were asked to use technologies to transmit a message, half the class all of a sudden had cell phones in their hands. This was the same with Facebook and instant messaging. Throughout the lab, most people in the room were seen updating their Facebook profiles – these technologies are readily available at a moment’s notice.

Text-based communication methods were used in all four cases of our experimentation. They were mostly simple, as all that was required to pass along a message was to copy and paste the message or forward the message to the next person. Without having to retype or rewrite the original message every time, these technologies allowed us to transfer messages fast and efficiently.

One common drawback of using these technologies to communicate was the fact that they all required physical ‘tools’ in order to make a contact. For example, one would require a writing utensil and paper to communicate via written letter, or a computer (any device with a web browser) and internet connection to communicate via instant messaging or through social networking sites, such as Facebook. Of course, to communicate through SMS, the physical phone itself is obviously essential. Another obstacle they shared, with the exception of written letters, was that they all required for one to know one another’s contact information, be it phone numbers, or e-mail addresses, before making contact was even possible.

This exercise brought us together to utilise technology in order to communicate with one another. Using it on everyday basis, we had not realised how deep it has crawled into our daily lives. With high-technological means of communications being vastly available, old ways of communications such as typed/written letters become less efficient. Relying on the technology that we use every day, we mostly consider it as given and do not realise how much it has changed the way we talk, shop, live and do all the routine activities day by day.

Messages were sent in this order:

SMS: Samuel -> Serge -> Scott -> Justin -> Devon –> Philip –> Samuel

FB: Serge -> Scott -> Justin -> Devon –> Philip –> Samuel –> Serge

IM: Scott -> Justin -> Devon –> Philip –> Samuel –> Serge –> Scott

WL: Justin -> Devon –> Philip –> Samuel –> Serge –> Scott –> Justin

Names/Student #: Samuel Kyongryoon Oh (301092910)

Sergey Khomutovskiy (301102701)

Scott Inglis (301091467)

Justin Casol (301098843)

Devin Cook (301098022)

Philip Polotsky (301090020)

Section Number: Tech114-D202

Instructor: James Philips

Teaching Assistant: Azmina Karimi

Date Submitted: Jan. 22, 2009

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    • Edwin Fang
    • January 22nd, 2009

    Hahaha now its your turn!

    • Samuel Oh
    • January 22nd, 2009

    huh? i dont get it

  1. Maaaan, you know there is such thing in the web like search engine, http://google.com if you don’t, go there to understand why this post is bullshit

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