1501. In the early 1970s Alvin Toffler's book about technological change in our culture, Future Shock, became a nationwide best seller. Find this book in your library and read the introduction.

  1. Read chapter six - the subject is friendship and relationships. Does Toffler do an adequate job of explaining modern relationships? Can you find evidence from other scholars that would back up Toffler's assertions? Write a paper that discusses how friendship is affected by technology such as the automobile, the telephone and the interactive computer network.

  2. Read chapter eight - the subject is the growth of the mass media. Do you agree with Toffler's assessment of coming societal change? Why or why not?

  3. Read chapter eighteen - the subject is technological change in education. Future Shock was published in 1970. Do you think that this chapter accurately predicted the state of today's educational system?
1502. Use the sources available in your library to research the growing use of genetic engineering in the development of food products. Analyze this situation from the point-of-view of technological determinism. Realistically, what options are available to people who are opposed to this kind of invention?

1503. McLuhan's Understanding Media, is somewhat difficult to read, yet it contains some of the most widely debated ideas of modern times. One way to approach the text is to read the first chapter, which outlines McLuhan's major thesis, and then to pick one of the chapters in part two (each discusses a particular medium) and try to relate McLuhan's ideas to that medium as you know it today. Here are some questions that relate to the book. (Quotations are from McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, Mentor Books, 1964.)

  1. McLuhan says that the content of a medium is always another medium. Using "television" as an example of a medium, discuss this idea.

  2. What does McLuhan mean when he says that media are "extensions of ourselves?"
    In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that, in operational and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium-that is, of any extension of ourselves-result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.

  3. McLuhan asserts that speech is a technology. What does he mean by this?
    The spoken word was the first technology by which man was able to let go of his environment in order to grasp it in a new way. Words are a kind of information retrieval that can range over the total environment and experience at high speed. Words are complex systems of metaphors and symbols that translate experience into our uttered or outered senses. They are a technology of explicitness. By means of translation of immediate sense experience into vocal symbols the entire world can be evoked and retrieved at any instant.

  4. Discuss the following at length. Can you find comments by Russell and Whitehead that support McLuhan's assertion?
    It was Bertrand Russell who declared that the great discovery of the twentieth century was the technique of the suspended judgment. A. N. Whitehead, on the other hand, explained how the great discovery of the nineteenth century was the discovery of the technique of discovery. Namely, the technique of starting with the thing to be discovered and working back, step by step, as on an assembly line, to the point at which it is necessary to start in order to reach the desired object. In the arts this meant starting with the effect and then inventing a poem, painting, or building that would have just that effect and no other.

  5. Research shows that in many American homes, the television sets are on even when no one is watching them. In fact, it may be that most people pay little attention to the "TV" much of the time it is on. Locate research on this behavior and relate it to the following:
    ...the need to use the senses that are available is as insistent as breathing-a fact that makes sense of the urge to keep radio and TV going more or less continuously. The urge to continuous use is quite independent of the "content" of public programs or of the private sense life, being testimony to the fact that technology is part of our bodies.

  6. Speculate: which world cultures will likely adapt most easily to the highly networked computer communication systems that will come into wide-spread use over the new few decades? Which will adapt least easily?
    One example is the Bedouin with his battery radio on board the camel. Submerging natives with floods of concepts for which nothing has prepared them is the normal action of all of our technology. But with electric media Western man himself experiences exactly the same inundation of the remote native. We are no more prepared to encounter radio and TV in our literate milieu than the native of Ghana is able to cope with the literacy that takes him out of his collective tribal world and beaches him in individual isolation. We are as numb in our new electric world as the native involved in our literate and mechanical culture.

  7. McLuhan says that only "the serious artist" is able to cope with the introduction of new media. Explain why he believes this.
    The effects of technology do not occur at the level of opinions or concepts, but alter sense ratios or patterns of perception steadily and without any resistance. The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception.

  8. What challenges are faced by cultures such as the Amish who purposely seek to remain separate from electronic technology? Why don't they succumb to the pressures described in the quotation?
    A related form of challenge that has always faced cultures is the simple fact of a frontier or a wall, on the other side of which exists another kind of society. Mere existence side by side of any two forms of organization generates a great deal of tension.... When two societies exist side by side, the psychic challenge of the more complex one acts as an explosive release of energy in the simpler one.

1504. In his book Mythologies Roland Barthes discusses the notion of myth. Comment on relationship of myth to ideology.

1505. The following quote is taken from The Hidden Dimension, Edward T. Hall's discussion on proxemics in nonverbal communication. When I was younger, I often observed while dancing that not only were some of my partners hotter or colder than average, but that the temperature of the same girl changed from time to time. It was always at that point, where I found myself establishing a thermal balance and getting interested without really knowing why, that these young ladies would inevitably suggest that it was time to "get some air." Checking on this phenomenon years later, I mentioned thermal changes to several female subjects and learned that they were quite familiar with them. One subject claimed that she could tell the emotional state of her boy friend even at a distance of three to six feet in the dark. She reported that she could detect the point at which either anger or lust was beginning to take over. Another subject used to rely on temperature changes in the chest of her dance partners and would take corrective action before things "went too far." -p. 56.

Choose a cultural, ideological, or technological perspective from which to discuss the implications of this quote and do so.

1506. Most people would probably agree that the best way to experience Shakespeare's Hamlet would be to attend a theatrical production. Which would you argue is second-best: to read the play in written form, or to watch an animated production of the play?

1507. An ideology carries with it certain beliefs about reality that are accepted by those within the ideology as universally true. To question an ideology is to question the validity of those truths, and therefore to question the reality of those who accept the ideology. Not surprisingly, such a questioning process can give rise to considerable argument. Each of the following presents and ideological label, followed by an assertion of truth that distinguishes the dominant ideology. Research one or more of these and discuss the conflicts that have arisen as the ideological beliefs have come under dispute.

  1. Capitalism: those who possess wealth are important - those who do not possess wealth are insignificant

  2. Patriarchy: men are natural leaders - women are natural subjects

  3. Radical Feminism: women are caring and supportive - men are brutish and violent

  4. Abortion ("right to life version"): the human fetus is an individual at the moment of conception - the human fetus is not an individual until birth

  5. Abortion ("women's rights version"): every individual has full ownership of his or her body - an individual's body is the property of the government
1508. The term "gender" refers to sexually related cultural characteristics. Discuss the passage below in terms of the relationship between gender and ideology.

Americans have strong feelings about gender and body motion. When we watch and Englishman or a Latin male cross his legs, for example, we sometimes feel momentarily uneasy. Though we couldn't say why, the gesture strikes us as effeminate. Few of us are consciously aware that the American male generally crosses his legs with knees somewhat spread or perhaps with one ankle propped on the other knee, while English and Latin men re apt to hold their legs and feet more or less parallel, as do American females.

These are not just body conventions, they are body prejudices. An American man has only to try to assume the posture the American woman takes when sending gender signals to learn how awkward and wrong it feels; legs close together, pelvis tipped forward and up, arms snug against the upper body and swinging, when she walks, only from the elbows down. And an American woman is uncomfortable if she tries the male posture: thighs somewhat apart and pelvis rolled back, arms held slightly away from the body and swinging from the shoulder. These different body styles are not dictated by anatomy-by women's broader hips, for example-for it they were they would be universal. Men in Eastern Europe walk with legs close together, and in the Far East, men may hold their upper arms against their bodies, and arm swing beginning below the elbow. - Davis, 9

1509. One line of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" says, "As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free." How many ideologies are represented in this one line? Is there any contradiction in their being simultaneously present?

1510. Analyze this quote. What ideology or ideologies are evidenced in this report. Is the author under the influence of an ideology? Describe an ideology that might cause one to take a different point-of-view of the situation. Is consciousness-raising an option in this situation? Who might engage in such consciousness-raising?

Since India gained its independence from Britain in 1947, the central government has made a concerted effort to bring economic prosperity and social justice to its people. A series of five-year plans has guided massive programs of fiscal investment and human effort. The collective term for these activities is "development."

The results of forty years of development programs present a curious enigma. On the one hand, it can truly be said that India has never been in better economic shape. It has become an exporter of food rather than dependent on foods produced elsewhere. Villages have amenities that are new to them; there is a larger group of prosperous middle-class citizens and traditional patterns of exploitation have been changed by vigorous intervention by the government. On the other hand, there is pervasive discontent about the way development has proceeded. the masses feel that the government has been inefficient and corrupt, and those who work in the development program feel disempowered and blame the masses for getting greedy and too dependent on the government.

Government planners have become increasingly sophisticated about the requisites for development. They have realized that even the immense resources of a national government are insufficient to achieve development. For national goals to be met, the people must participate in digging wells, supporting the laws, investing capital for agricultural machinery, and so forth. To elicit this participation, the government has engaged in a great deal of communication with the masses, designed to create in them a dissatisfaction with existing conditions, an awareness of alternatives, and a knowledge of what can be done to improve their way of life.

This communication program has been very successful. Indians in urban areas and in many of the villages have become dissatisfied with conditions that exist in their communities. However, instead of setting about to change them, their participation in national development seems limited to complaining to the government about these conditions and demanding that the government do something about them. Among development theorists and functionaries, this pattern is known as "passive participation." It denotes a condition in which persons support the development effort but are willing to participate in it only as critics or recipients of the efforts of others. - Pearce 29-30.

1511. In 1980 the United Nations published, Many voices, one world : communication and society, today and tomorrow : towards a new more just and more efficient world information and communication order. Research "The New World Information and Communication Order" and write an analysis of the role of the United States media in world affairs.

1512. International observers criticize United States news media for covering their countries only if their is a disaster - they argue that earthquakes, volcanoes and attempts to overthrow the government are the only contexts in which Americans ever encounter many international cultures. Survey the network television news in your area for a few weeks and report on its international content. Are the international critics accurate in their assessment?

1513. Research the worldwide growth of popular music. Is this medium dominated by products from the "high tech" industrialized nations? Is it an example of "media imperialism?"

1514. The U.S. government proposes to deliver unemployment, social security and other kinds of payments by means of a computerized "debit" card. Research this proposal and comment on its impact on our culture.

1515. Does your school offer a debit card for use on campus? If it does, discuss the impact that the adoption of this technology had on campus life. Talk to your parents about how they obtained spending money when they were your age. How have things changed?

1516. If environments are active, and if systems interact with their environments, then what is the difference between "system" and "environment?" [Hint: this is a difficult question. Consider what we mean by the term "boundary."]

1517. Thomas Pynchon's novel, The Crying of Lot 49, has as one of its themes the relationships between government postal systems and their environments. Read this novel and discuss its ideology.

1518. McLuhan's Culture Is Our Business contains a collection of print media advertisements from the early 1960s along with McLuhan's running critique. If you are interested in the study or practice of advertising, you may find this text of value.

1519. In his book, Turing's Man, J. David Bolter speculates on the changes that computers may bring to human consciousness. For example, Bolter says: The computer was born in the final and most spendthrift decades of Western economic growth. Yet by its very nature it encourages a finite world view, and this may well be the greatest good fostered by the computer. The prime task of the programmer is to manage his scarce resources, to accomplish what he can with near and ready materials rather than solve problems by expansion. - Bolter 227.

Consider the following:

  1. What ideological points-of-view might be guiding Bolter's analysis?

  2. How does his assertion that computers are affecting human consciousness mesh with Ong's point-of-view? McLuhan's?

  3. Many computer terms have become part of our language - for example, input, output, program, hard copy, software, etc. - what do these terms mean to computer programmers? Do they mean the same in common general usage?

  4. Read Turing's Man and discuss the relationship of the computer medium to human communication.

1520. Many word processors have an option that automatically provides "typographer's quotes." This means that when the writer presses the "straight" quote key on the keyboard, the computer figures out whether it should remain straight, and if not, substitutes a "curly" quote (usually option- [ and shift-opt- [ on the keyboard). What other word processing functions can the computer perform automatically? How might this ability of the computer change the way that we write and speak our language?

Internet software generally does not recognize the codes for "curly" quotes. The set of codes used in most American English browsers is called "ISO Latin." Search for this topic on the Internet and write a report that discusses the use of symbol coding schemes on the Internet.

1521. Read "Language and Reality in Modern Physics," by Werner Heisenberg, in The World of Physics, ed. Jefferson Weaver, Simon & Shuster, 1987, 853-857.

  1. Heisenberg says that "... we cannot speak about atoms in ordinary language." Why not? How has the ideology of science changed our language?

  2. On page 853 Heisenberg presents a problem that arises from the use of everyday language to describe reality. Describe that problem?

  3. What does Heisenberg mean by the term "logic"? What is "mathematics" and how is it used to facilitate communication in science?

1522. Lao Tzu, Tao Teh Ching, Perigee Books, 1944.

  1. What does the first sentence mean? Is it true?

  2. Is this an example of fact, opinion or belief. Justify your opinion.

  3. Consider the following statements. Would belief in them constitute an ideology?

1523. Read "Counting Sheep" by Haruki Murakami in A Wild Sheep Chase.

  1. What is "coincidence?" What role does it play in human communication?

  2. Develop a theory that explains the existence of donut holes. Compare your theory with that of another person in the class. Which is the better theory? (How do we decide if one theory is "better" than another? Would a worker at Duncan Donuts naturally produce the best theory? How about the president of Duncan Donuts?)

1524. Read Robert Hooke's book How to tell the Liars From the Statisticians How does statistical truth differ from other kinds of truth? Does the acceptance of statistical truth constitute an ideology?

1525. Arnold Pacey's book, Technology in World Civilization, traces the history of the development of Asian technology. Discuss the ideological implications of the fact that Americans tend to think of technology as a purely "Western" development.

1526. In an article, "Technological Trends in the Twentieth Century," in Technology and Western Civilization Peter Drucker projects the development of technology in the near future. Read this article and discuss the accuracy of his projections.

1527. In an article, "Imperialism and Technology," in Technology and Western Civilization (Kranzberg and Pursell, 1967, vol. I), Rondo Cameron discusses the role of technology in the world-wide European military and economic conquests of the 19th century. Research the nature of imperialist ideology. Do technology and imperialism always go hand-in-hand?

1528. Read Daniel Boorstin's book, The Exploring Spirit. What other books and articles that relate to the human spirit of exploration and discovery can you find in your library? Write a paper on one of the following subjects. In your paper show how the ideology you are discussing relates to communication within the society at the time and/or the way we communication about these past events in the present.

  1. The ideology of early European exploration

  2. The ideologies of those who were "discovered" by the early European explorers

  3. The exploratory ideology of the American space program

1529. The theory of hyperreality argues that the "high tech" societies are in the process of constructing a social reality based on the images, voices and ideas that are constantly presented via the electronic mass media. Write a paper that discusses this theory. You might want to begin with the work of scholar Jean Baudrillard.

1530. The family is an example of a socially determined reality. Much has been written about the ideologies of family, and also about the impact of modern technology on the American family. Use the resources available in your library to research

1531. Adrian Frutiger's book, Signs and Symbols, provides a fascinating look at the historical and graphical development of symbols chosen from a diverse group of cultures. Find this book in your library and report on the development of one particular symbol.

1532. In your school library, find a dictionary of cultural symbols. Look up this symbol, . How many different cultures make use of this symbol? What are its most common meanings?

1533. In the first chapter of Understanding Popular Culture, John Fiske discusses various meanings that can be assigned to the wearing of jeans in American culture. Based on this article, analyze the meanings that you find in your professors' clothing.

1534. Near the end of his book, The Technological Society, Jacquesl Ellul reports on predictions that technologists of the time were making about what the world would be like in the year 2000. Read that section and discuss the accuracy of their predictions.

1535. The 1967 collection of articles from Scientific American titled Science, Conflict and Society seems similar to the 1974 collection titled Scientific Technology and Social Change. Why do you think the word "technology" was added to the title?

1536. Chapter IX of Jacques Ellul's book, The Technological Bluff, is titled, "A Sketch of the Ideologies of Science." Research the subject and write a paper explaining the ideological nature of scientific thinking.

1537. To what extent is this concept of information ideological? How has the adoption of information theory changed our culture? (Much has been written on this subject, see for example: Dordick and Wang, Chartrand, Inose and Pierce.

1538. Disappearing Through the Skylight, by O. B. Hardison, provides a good overview of changes that have come to our culture recently in part as a result of new technologies. Read this book:

1539. What is Hardison's ideological position on technology and cultural change? Does he approve or disapprove of the change?

1540. In the section titled "The Poetry of Nothing," Hardison discusses the effect of technological change on human language. Does he support or refute the argument of McLuhan and Ong?

1541. This quote is taken from Pearce, p. 68. Making "meaning" is not an optional activity in which persons sometimes engage; it is a part of what it means to be a human being. Has your study of human communication convinced you that this is true? Why or why not? Discuss the effects of "meaning making" on the communication environment.

1542. This quote is taken from Murdock, p. 89.

Early reports of peoples lacking language or fire, morals or religion, marriage or government, have been proved erroneous in every instance. Nevertheless, even today it is not generally recognized how numerous and diverse are the elements common to all known cultures. The following is a partial list of items, arranged in alphabetical order to emphasize their variety, which occur, so far as the author's knowledge goes, in every culture known to history or ethnography: age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendars, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethnobotany, etiquette, faith healing, family, feasting, fire making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin-groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, modesty concerning natural functions, mourning, music, mythology, numerals, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, status differentiation, surgery, tool making, trade, visiting, weaning, and weather control.

Which of these activities might not be considered a kind of communication. Explain why.

1543. The term "role model" refers to an individual to whom others look for instruction on how to behave in social situations.

  1. Discuss the importance or irrelevance of the following types as role models.

  2. Have any of these been important role models in your life? Have you had role models who are not listed here? Discuss your answers.

1544. The institution of education is particularly interesting because it must perpetuate itself.

  1. How does the institution of education "educate" us to the need to continue the institution of education?

  2. Courses taken in school have "content" - for example, in math class students study mathematics. However, courses also contain messages about the importance of institutions.

1545. Having taken on the role of designer of this text, I produce the text according to certain rules. For example, different catagories of text are presented with differently colored backgrounds. What other expectations do you have of me as an author? How well or poorly have I met them? What expectations do you think I should have of you in your role as the reader of this text?

1546. The quote that heads the section titled "Berger and Luckmann's Model" is one of Franz Kafka's parables. What is a "parable?" How does Kafka's parable relate to the social construction of reality?

1547. The following quotation is taken from Birdwhistell, p. 14.

However, it must be kept in mind that, while communication is necessary for life, all people who do not communicate precisely as we do not immediately die. As we grow up, we learn that other people may speak different languages, and we can learn that it is possible, if not necessary, to learn how to translate these differences.

Look up the meaning of the term "consciousness-raising." How does consciousness-raising relate to the study of human communication?

1548. Ideology becomes especially important to the study of communication as a tool for wielding power over others. One widely used approach to this study involves a phenomenon first described by Italian social theorist Antonio Gramsci as "hegemony."

The hegemony of a political class meant for Gramsci that class had succeeded in persuading the other classes of society to accept its own moral, political and cultural values. - Joll129.

Research the subject of "hegemony" and discuss its importance to the study of human communication.

1549. Discuss the patriarchal hegemony of men over women in terms of its affect on communication between and among the two genders.

1550. Discuss the economic hegemony of the "developed" over the "underdeveloped" nations during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries

1551. Our increasingly inventive use of computers has brought the attention of communication scholars to what are often called the "New Technologies." Choose one of the technologies listed below and discuss its implications with regard to human communication.

  1. Databases and Hypertext - Foucault

  2. Hyperreality and Cyberspace - Baudrillard

  3. Communication and Community in the Global Village - Habermas

  4. The worldwide network - Lyodtard

  5. Society as System and Environment - Luhmann

1552. Problems can occur when we take the stereotypical attributes that we apply to a group and attach them to an individual. Police officers may be honest (in general), and Brian may be a police officer, but that doesn't necessarily mean that Brian is honest. If we fail to recognize that, we leave ourselves with no defense against dishonest police. Write a paper that defines and discusses the uses of stereotypes.