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After Media (Hot and Cold), by Eduardo Navas

Image capture, July 11, 2009, http://hulu.com

The following text was originally published during the month of August, 2009 as part of Drain‘s Cold issue.  The journal is a refereed online journal published bi-annually.  The text is republished in full on Remix Theory with permission.  Drain’s copyright agreement allows for 25% of the essay to be reblogged or reposted on other sites with proper citation and linkage to the journal at http://www.drainmag.com/.  I ask that their agreement be respected by the online community.

In 1964 Marshal McLuhan published his essay “Media Hot and Cold,” in one of his most influential books, Understanding Media.[1] The essay considers the concepts of hot and cold as metaphors to define how people before and during the sixties related to the ongoing development of media, not only in Canada and the United States but also throughout the world.[2] Since the sixties, the terms hot and cold have become constant points of reference in media studies. However, these principles, as defined by McLuhan, have changed since he first introduced them. What follows is a reflection on such changes during the development of media in 2009.

McLuhan is quick to note that media is defined according to context. His essay begins with a citation of “The Rise of the Waltz” by Curt Sachsk, which he uses to explain the social construction behind hot and cold media. He argues that the Waltz during the eighteenth century was considered hot, and that this fact might be overlooked by people who lived in the century of Jazz (McLuhan’s own time period). Even though McLuhan does not follow up on this observation, his implicit statement is that how hot and cold are perceived in the twentieth century is different from the eighteenth. Because of this implication, his essay is best read historically. This interpretation makes the reader aware of how considering a particular medium as hot or cold is a social act, informed by the politics of culture. McLuhan’s first example demonstrates that, while media may become hot or cold, or be hot at one time and cold at another, according to context, the terms, themselves, are not questioned, but rather taken as monolithic points of reference. To make sense of this point, McLuhan’s concepts must be defined.

A standard Deutsche Bundespost design. Updated version of the W38 was imported to Britain in the 1950s and 60s.

Image Source: http://www.conranshop.co.uk/ProductDetails.aspx?language=en-GB&cid=TechnoBoy&pid=252393

McLuhan defines hot media as low in participation, and cold media as high; cold media is high definition while hot media is low: “A hot medium is one that extends one single sense in ‘high definition.’ High definition is the state of being well filled with data.”[3] From this point of view the telephone is cool because it provides a small amount of information, similarly to speech. Both, according to McLuhan, demand that the listener fills information. McLuhan’s definition, however, is based on a passive audience. This becomes evident upon noticing that he thinks of the telephone primarily in terms of listening. In other words, he is thinking primarily in terms of perception, and not considering how people may also contribute to what they perceive. But the telephone in hindsight became a popular medium because it is a reciprocal device, meaning users listen and speak. To be fair, McLuhan’s consideration of the telephone as cool is not inconsistent because, according to him, when users have to do more, then the medium is cool, and in this sense, the telephone demands that users become engaged in an actual conversation. Once this is acknowledged, it is evident that the telephone, when viewed as a proactive form of communication, is a predecessor of networked culture. To rephrase McLuhan’s view on the telephone, he does not expect the viewer to have any agency in how to engage with the medium, which means that the medium basically keeps its privileged position as hot or cold, and the user must accept it; hence why the terms are treated as monoliths. McLuhan’s view is obviously informed by his own historical context, which was a time when the media user had no immediate means to provide feedback, or have great agency in how and when to engage with specific media.

This tendency is evident in his binary examples: telephone is cool while the radio is hot, TV is cool while film is hot, a cartoon is cool while a photograph is hot. McLuhan may have effectively defined hot and cold media for the sixties, based on these oppositions. But one must admit that similar to his observation that people in the age of Jazz would not be able to perceive the Waltz as a hot medium, one can also note that in 2009 his examples from the 1960’s may not be read as he originally proposed. This possibility is already at play in McLuhan’s theory as his understanding of hot and cold media demonstrates the concepts to be relevant not in terms of science but culture. In this regard, he admits that even within the same time period, some media will be considered hot in one area of the world and cold in another: “In the special Russian issue of Life magazine for September 13, 1963, it is mentioned in Russian restaurants and night clubs ‘though the Charleston is tolerated, the Twist is taboo.’ All this to say that a country in the process of industrialization is inclined to regard hot jazz as consistent with its developing programs.”[4] This observation exposes the political aspects of media, which means that the personal experience of a medium as hot and cold is also influenced by specific political interests. This tendency, along with the high level of feedback, often considered as collaboration by users, has become pervasive in recent times, which is the main reason why the theory of hot and cold media needs to be re-examined.

Bush radio from the 1960s  Photo: PHIL COBURN

Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/3530790/Alba-and-Bush-radio-and-television-brands-sold-to-Argos-owner-Home-Retail-Group.html

The Cooling of media

The radio, telephone, TV and film, as well as many of McLuhan’s other examples can be hot or cold depending on the delivery device. Media, in 2009, leans towards the cool, in this case implying, not a synonym for cold, as McLuhan uses it throughout his essay, but as a middle ground that makes media more manageable for consumption. The term cool, and at times cooled, will be used throughout the rest of this text with double meaning; therefore, it begs further clarification. First it implies cooling off from a clearly cold or hot state, as defined by McLuhan; and second, it signifies a cultural coolness, where content is constantly created and reshaped to stay relevant in particular niches. This trend points to the problems of consumerism, in which the cooling of hot and cold media is used to push people to consume increasingly.

Networked culture pushes media to become accessible in multiple forms that are optimized for assimilation of information. The result is that film, radio, and TV, are losing their formal qualities for the sake of optimal access. TV programs and films, for instance, are now available on the Internet, on demand, via online databases like Hulu,[5] where users can log on any time during the day or night and view current TV episodes as well as popular films. This online service, like many others, is free of charge to the user; granted that the user provides some basic information to become a member. In this database, film and TV media are treated the same, they are both optimized to be viewed on the same screen. Further, streaming in high resolution is now possible and if users are able to connect their computers to televisions, then viewing a TV show or film from this database on a larger screen is no different than viewing material from a DVD or an on demand cable service. Users then begin to differentiate between film, TV and other media content according to the respective medium’s initial form of introduction, its paradigmatic social understanding: for film it will be the movie theater, and for TV a major public or cable network. While users will accept such differentiation, they do so fully aware that the material will be eventually accessible across the same platform: a database like Hulu, or their local on demand cable company. To recall McLuhan’s views on these media, he considered TV cool and film hot, while one can argue that both media may still be understood largely in terms of their initial state, the current tendency is to produce not just film and TV, but all media with a predisposition to be cooled off, so that they are treated the same in a database. Basically, a database like Hulu, which also features news and video games, is designed for entertainment on demand. At this stage media has been cooled.

Image capture, July 11, 2009, http://www.ireport.com/

This allows users a certain distance from media, as they can choose when to engage with specific material, as previously noted. Unlike the 1960’s, users don’t have to schedule their time around a specific TV show, or film, because this content will be eventually available on demand. However, this pushes users to constantly stay connected to have access to material through some sort of networked device. With this shift known as media convergence, the question becomes how does media delivery over a network that treats all information as binary data change people’s understanding of hot and cold states? To evaluate this question with precision, we must consider other developments in the cooled media landscape.

McLuhan was aware that media can be heated or cooled; he also understood that hot and cold apply to both media and culture, which is why he is quick to treat both the same. Admittedly, this makes his theory confusing at times. This is evident when he discusses the Waltz, as already mentioned, which when reconsidered, is not a medium, but a specific form of dance and music—it’s a cultural activity. He does this again when he argues that the intensity with which female ballet dancers who performed on their toes during the nineteenth century excluded men from dancing. McLuhan also discusses the role of women in the industrialized world in close relation to the fragmentation of home activities such as cooking and washing garments into specialized functions performed by the bakery and the laundry. But this confusion may be taking place because McLuhan is ultimately interested in how people deal with hot and cold media. This becomes evident when he swiftly connects hot and cold elements to even more abstract aspects of not only industrialization, but the human psyche:

Intensity or high definition engenders specialism and fragmentation in living as entertainment, which explains why any intense experience must be “forgotten,” “censored,” and reduced to a very cool state before it can be “learned” or assimilated. The Freudian “censor” is less of a moral function than an indispensable condition of learning. Were we to accept fully and directly every shock to our various structures of awareness, we would soon be nervous wrecks, doing double-takes and pressing panic buttons every minute.[6]

The necessity to assimilate, then, is the cause behind the cooling of hot and cold media to a manageable state. When updating McLuhan’s definition of hot and cold, it becomes evident that networked culture is, by default, a cool culture, meaning that it is neither hot nor cold. Networked culture is able to attain the proper distance from any subject in order for that subject to be learned or assimilated, as McLuhan argues in the quote above. This does not mean that with the cooling of hot and cold media the participant would attain critical distance, but rather enough distance to absorb the content (We will come back to critical distance towards the end of this text.) In cooled media, then, the necessary distance to understand and assimilate is appropriated to enhance the possibilities for consumption. Media is cooled not for critical evaluation, but for the sake of efficient and pervasive delivery, so that consumers will not miss a particular product – no matter what time of the day, they may be accessing media resources. For this reason media developers are preoccupied with media delivery more than with the medium itself.

iPhone featuring Transformers trailer

Image Source: http://blog.solutionset.com/wpmu/category/technology/mobile/

If we take film for instance, one can go to a movie theater, and still have, according to McLuhan’s definition, a hot experience: one is saturated by the image as well as sound (though McLuhan did not account explicitly for the sound in his theory); yet, film itself is no longer expected to be experienced solely at the movie theater. For many decades now, people have been able to enjoy movies on TV that were originally released in theaters; but more recently culture has gone mobile with film consumption: thanks to networked culture most people around the world are likely to view films not in theaters but in portable devices—this promises to become the norm in the near future, possibly in 2014.[7] People who travel by plane are often provided with individualized monitors in which they can choose to watch the news, sports, TV shows, films or listen to different radio stations of choice. It also offers a Global Positioning System (GPS) that informs the passenger about the trip: how many miles traveled, altitude, speed, weather, and time of arrival. This device is not a TV, film, or radio device, but rather a computer-networked device specifically designed to provide a diverse array of entertainment. Its most interesting aspect is that it does not need to be recognized with a specific name because it serves a particular purpose relevant to the moment of travel. In this case, media has been cooled to a level that people consider the device a generic window to diverse information.

The iPhone is arguably the prime example of a device designed for diverse usage. It can function as a phone, a video game console, an e-mail messenger, a GPS, personal music player, a web browser, as well as a monitor to view films; it also offers a growing number of specifically designed widgets. The iPhone is a hybrid of all conceivable media at a meta-level, meaning that it simulates pre-existing forms of communication and entertainment. In other words, people come to the iPhone understanding that it is a device of convenience that provides other forms of communication and entertainment that are usually accessed separately. On the iPhone, a phone call, a video conference, an e-mail, a film, a quick search online are all cooled. They are all binary data configured to provide a simulated format according to the aura of such media outside of the iPhone. While this becomes obvious to people who saw the introduction of this popular device, there is a strong possibility that for generations that grow with it, the iPhone will become eventually the natural device to access media of all types. And meta-media will simply become media.

The iPhone, then, is the outcome of the constant drive to cool all media; conceptually it is no different from the screen device provided during plane travel. However, in terms of economics, it is designed with an opposing approach. The plane monitor does have a name, and the user has no need to know it. The iPhone demands that it be recognized as an Apple product. The monitor is designed to become invisible, to be part of the environment. The iPhone is designed to be coolly noticed. The monitor is designed as functional device. The iPhone is designed as a fetish, albeit quite functional. While both devices are designed to cool media, the iPhone is cooler. The iPhone does not only fulfill a need, but also a desire; a desire that was constructed on the supposed need to be always connected.

What is of interest for this analysis is that both devices lead to the same principle regarding diverse media, such as film and TV, entering the realm of convergence: people will consider the differentiation between media as a cultural convention, one that is sure to become more difficult to define clearly as devices find new ways to converge media. To cite another example of airplane travel, during December of 2008, a man sitting next to me became immersed in one of the Terminator films, which he downloaded from the Apple store to his iPhone, prior to boarding the plane. I contemplated how he possibly had mentally transferred himself to a movie theater, as he held firmly the iPhone with his right hand directly in front of him, and clearly became unaware of his surroundings. In the iPhone, the medium, in this case film, does not lose its aura as a hot or immersive form, but rather its default elements are incorporated as simulacrum in the design of the delivery device. After all, the man in the plane got lost in viewing the film. You could argue that this is also possible because it does not matter what size the screen may be, as long as the content itself is high or low in terms of information flow. McLuhan might argue that film is still film even at such small scale—as people will still be well filled with data. The point is that people once conditioned on how to relate and use specific media are willing to adapt in order to have a cold or hot experience, even if the media has been cooled off.

The cooling that is taking place is not only for hot media but for cold media as well. The telephone, which McLuhan defined as cold media, is becoming a bit hotter (though not necessarily as immersive as a film experience). Skype, and similar forms of communication, give users the option not only to talk over the phone, but also to exchange textual information and links, via a complementary chat platform. Skype also incorporates a video feature, which allows users to have video-conferences. Here we see that video, a medium that evolved from TV culture during the seventies, becomes part of basic global communication that started as a telephone service. While McLuhan considered both TV and the phone cold media, in the first decade of the twenty-first century, they are pushed to become immersive, almost like film, albeit in the cooled state of networked culture. Skype users not only listen but see the other person: where they are, what they are wearing, how they react physically to comments. One could argue that the low resolution of videoconferencing may prevent it from being considered a cooled medium (cooler than the telephone on its own) because often times, the resolution is so bad that users have to conceptually put together the pixels that make up the person and her environment—not so differently from how in the past a person using a telephone would have to evaluate the sound transmitted to understand what is being said; however, the resolution of computer screens and well as of actual video will be improved very soon to the point that it will offer higher resolution than TV offered in the past. This is a clear symptom of convergence.

Convergence needs to be further examined in relation to film, telephony, as well as other media that in the past were easily defined as hot or cold. Henry Jenkins defines convergence as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want.”[8] This trend has led media developers to design devices that can deliver media of all types; to this effect, it has been speculated as to whether there can ever be a single delivery device. Jenkins argues that there will never be a single device, which he refers to as a blackbox, through which all media is consumed. In practice, however, it appears that if there will never be one blackbox for all media, at least all media devices will pretend to be blackboxes that can efficiently deliver an ever-changing flow of content.

Along these lines, In January 2009 Blu-ray, after displacing HD DVD in the digital video market found itself struggling not against another DVD based technology, but against networked technology; the Internet is Blu-ray’s next competitor.[9] The preoccupation of Blu-ray developers is that it is very likely that people will be moving towards machines that allow for movie downloads much in the format of On Demand services in cable networks across the United States. So, Blu-ray is introducing in the near future a feature that will allow people to download material from the Internet:

As manufacturers introduce new players and continue to cut prices on older models, analysts say . . . Analysts say they expect companies to announce more support for a feature called BD Live (as in Blu-ray disc live), which lets people download additional material from the Internet and interact with friends in text chats that appear on the television while playing a movie.[10]

So, what is likely to become ubiquitous in 2009 is the crossover of information from one format to another. Blu-ray players are becoming convergence devices. In other words, they will be more like iPhones or Blackberry’s than traditional DVD players. They are devices designed to cool off hot and cold media. It would not be surprising then if in the near future a Blu-ray player is also able to offer Wii sports, or Xbox video games as part of its basic features. The current version of Xbox, for instance, downloads not only games, which is its primary service, but also movies. What is puzzling about this development is why call any machine a specific name if it is designed to do more than one thing? It appears that marketing media delivery devices such as DVD players, or phones, etcetera will become more difficult as technology innovation demands for information crossover.

The cooling down of hot and cold media is a trend that is unlikely to stop, as the example of blu-ray demonstrates. People are beginning to consider all media as information to access for diverse purposes that range from pure entertainment to education. This means that at one point we might think of media as neither hot nor cold, but rather as modular hybrids of the two elements. McLuhan’s theory of hot and cold might become a historical reference much like the typewriters are historical predecessors to the computer. How people think of media will no longer depend on binaries, but rather on nuances according to accessibility and desires for entertainment and necessity to stay informed. Because this appears to be the trend, one can sense some urgency in the situation that developers are in since they find that people are becoming less and less interested in specific devices as objects of desire; people are beginning to approach devices in large part for their functionality

The media is quite aware of this cooling trend and constantly writes about it. Journalist Saul Hansel wrote for the New York Times also at the beginning of 2009, “If the most exciting thing about your phone or truck or TV is the Web sites you go to and the software applications you download, then the device itself is less important.”[11] What is certain is that the cooling of media is making people develop a different relationship to the material they consume as well as the delivery devices.

The Rebirth of Cool

In 2009 there is a new age of jazz. But this age is not hot, nor cold. It is cooled. In this age, cool cannot be understood the same way as it was during the 1960’s when McLuhan wrote “Media Hot and Cold.” The cooled world of networked culture, in part, developed out of necessity—as populations grew and people became better connected locally and internationally, global culture “heated up.” Media as it contributes to the heating of the social infrastructure has also been used to cool the social tension that inevitably comes with the growth of populations and their dependence on media itself. McLuhan was aware of these aspects of culture, and he observed in another essay, titled “Reversal of the Overheated Medium”:

In fact, it is not the increase in numbers in the world that creates our concern with population explosion. Rather, it is the fact that everybody in the world has to live in the utmost proximity created by our electric involvement in one another’s lives. […] Obsession with the older patterns of mechanical, one-way expansion from centers to margins is no longer relevant to our electric world. Electricity does not centralize, but decentralizes.[12]

The last sentence could be describing our most common way of communication: the Internet, to which we will return shortly. But at this moment I want to point out that McLuhan is arguing for ways of coping with saturation, or heating in both the social and technological level; meaning, population as well as media communication. In other words, as population grows we have to find ways to deal with the physical and psychological closeness that takes place—this has been achieved by cooling media, which in effect cools culture. This is why McLuhan can discuss the heating of media and culture with no deliberate differentiation on his part.

Regarding the implications of automation in relation to the Internet, McLuhan was certainly aware of the cultural repercussions this would create, and even considers the rise of the information age; however, he evaluates it in relation to material goods. Information for him is a means to push actual products: “In the new electric age of information and programmed production, commodities themselves assume more and more the character of information, although this trend appears mainly in the increasing advertising budget.”[13] In 2009 the flow of information does not have to be for the sake of a product, but for the sake of information itself. Information flow is an industry in itself. New markets have been created solely on the exchange of information. Information based labor has enabled developing economies such as Brazil’s and India’s to thrive because in these countries a growing part of the labor force does work that can be telecommuted from the United States and parts of Europe. They organize information for other countries.[14]

McLuhan noticed the development of decentralization with electricity, and today, it can be stated as common knowledge that we live in a decentralized world. In 2009, there is no center or periphery as understood in binary thought; the world has been converted into a grid—a network that allows people to deal with their immediate reality in large part according to the social structures implemented by the pervasiveness of networked culture—this is the ultimate stage of cool. While this cooling may be necessary for people to cope with population and media density, as McLuhan himself notes already in his own time, it is also essential to keep in mind, as I have implicitly argued throughout this text for media, that the cooling has also taken place out of economic interests from media developers who need to find ways to stay productive. The tension between these two cultural variables: necessity to function and drive for profits, creates a friction that is unlikely to be resolved; instead, it can only be controlled by keeping it cool. And here we can briefly point to global politics to notice that after WWII an understanding for debates to find a middle ground, a cool ground, became the privileged form of political action throughout the world.[15] The Cold War was for this very reason a cooled war, so that the politics could be kept at play at a safe distance by both the United States and the Soviet Union. This cooling was necessary because after WWII the interconnection among countries and cultures that globalization would make even more apparent was obvious to governments and corporations. And something had to be done to make sure there would not be a cultural meltdown. The result of the current cooling of media which in effect cools culture, then, is that it has shifted the way people experience the world. To rationalize is to cool down. To live in the heat of the moment is not. Media has been implemented to make sure these conventions stay in place.

Yet, what complicates this ongoing contention is that the cooling of media also pushes for heating to take place, as media itself needs to find new ways to engage people, while also making sure that what is introduced for media consumption does not become simply noise. This is the reason why convergence is the privileged model of media delivery. Convergence cools media and culture with the purpose to attract people’s attention—to turn an item or product hot and be noticed at least briefly. For this reason, Media is in constant tension with itself struggling for a middle ground that will allow it to stay relevant without becoming noise; therefore, the delivery devices introduce a flow that fits the users’ attention span.

This is why paradoxically the level of media saturation at the moment is unprecedented—it is hotter than ever. This is possible because media itself is strategically used to make the heating bearable. Mcluhan would not have imagined that teenagers at the beginning of the twenty first century would be bombarded with 3000 images a day, and 10 million by the time they are eighteen.[16] McLuhan did know that we have defense mechanisms, as I previously quoted him explaining how people acknowledge selectively what they want to focus on, otherwise they would be nervous wrecks. This tension has affected the way we relate to the physical: how do people feel when they leave their cellphone at home? A common remark I have heard from friends is “I’m naked! I forgot my cellphone!” Or, “I forgot my cellphone—I feel incomplete.” The result is that people have been conditioned to rely on mechanical mediation to cope with the changes of the world. For instance, with the growing ubiquity of GPS systems, people are relying less on their physical relation to their surroundings, as they depend more on a media device to tell them how to get to a place. It is not uncommon for an automobile passenger or driver with a GPS system to find herself saying as the vehicle comes to a stop, “we’re here,” while looking at the GPS screen, and then turning her head right or left to look at the actual place of arrival.

This pervasiveness, this mediated experience that is redefining our bodies, is best developed in networked culture: the ultimate cooled place, a virtual non-place that is always accessible in the same way as long as a connected device is available. The network is the place where information flow is best monitored. It is the place where people interact with others more than in physical space. It is also a place where people can work at their convenience or leisure. Telecommuting is a relative new form of labor in which the worker no longer has to go physically to work and deal with the boss. The pressure of the office has changed. On the entertainment spectrum, perhaps the best example of convergence is the rise of iTunes. Users now can search for songs that they already like and buy them for a little over a dollar. They can also develop lists that will allow them to become acquainted with a large database of music that they would never hear on the radio; iTunes also provides a program called Genius that creates lists for users based on what they already have on their song database. All this is designed to make sure that the consumer will be reached, and to make sure that products will break through the noise that media itself creates. Networked culture then is the most efficient and best controlled space, and as it has developed it has been cooled, both out of necessity for people to deal with the content it delivers, as well as the sake of making a profit.

Conclusion: Cooling of Critical Distance

Critical distance has always functioned in terms of cooling. Language is often used to step back and reflect on things that may be happening too fast: “Now, let us talk about this… Let us take it a step at a time… Come down and let us examine the situation carefully,” are common phrases used every day by people who find the need to step back from a situation, to cool it down, examine it, and make proper decisions. It is paradoxical that cooling now is also a pivotal strategy in the struggle by media to be noticed and consumed. When considering McLuhan’s theory of hot and cold media, this cooling was already in place, but was not so pervasive as it is during the first decade of the Twenty-first century. Cooled media, then, it can be argued is dialectical. It contains the very seed within its current state of conflict that will lead to the next stage in cultural development. The struggle has always been for balance.

To claim a critical distance in media convergence implies a deliberate separation between the world and the intellectual space necessary to evaluate the issue of interest. This may appear more difficult to achieve in the age of new media because there is no apparent way to really step back as things change very quickly. Therefore, the gesture must be primarily conceptual and deliberate—it will not appear as the default mode of thinking to a person immersed in media convergence. This struggle for criticality becomes confusing when one realizes that with networked technology people are encouraged to opine whenever possible. This makes online users feel as though they have developed real criticality, but on closer reflection, it is evident that the media does not encourage consumers to think critically about issues, but simply to express what they think. The reason behind this is to attain material for statistics, for data-mining. Criticality has joined the spectacle of entertainment; it is part of the “fast media” chain. This is why both CNN and Fox can ask people to opine, not because the cable news networks care so much in individual thought, but because they are interested in how to figure out a trend and then to report on it. Whenever selections of blogs or e-mails are presented, these are always contextualized in terms of inclinations: how many approve and disapprove an issue. In other words, while this is a good thing for media as well as governments to figure out the views of people collectively, this set up does not necessarily demand that the contributors become more critical about what they write—as they are likely to simply reinforce what they believe. Therefore, critical distance needs to be deliberately implemented as part of cooled media. Real criticism is in large part missing. At the moment critical distance is presented as a critical facade, a simulacrum that makes users believe that they are critically engaged.

Media convergence makes obvious the fact that there is no outside of the symbolic world. One is limited to critique from within: a common argument in the humanities since the days of structuralism and poststructuralism. However, it is possible to be critical if people are willing to be conscious of the constant cooling of media. This has always been the real challenge for people who are invested in critical evaluation of culture. The reason why it is so difficult to evaluate changes critically is because culture and media constantly shift at an ever-increasing rate. Therefore, criticism must constantly adapt to keep up with these changes. For this reason, throughout this text I have focused on how media affects culture in ways that may appear negative. Media is neither bad nor good. It is simply an extension of human interest; it reflects our virtues, defects, and anxieties. Media has enabled our diverse cultures to communicate and better understand our differences and it will continue to do so; therefore, to celebrate progress without pointing out its limitations would be a renouncement of the will to live.

[1] Marshal McLuhan, “Media Hot and Cold,” Understanding Media (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964), 22-32.
[2] McLuhan was Canadian born, and live there most of his life.
[3] Ibid, 22.
[4] Ibid, 27.
[5] Hulu, http://www.hulu.com/, accessed May 17, 2009.
[6] Ibid, 24.
[7] Dan Jones, “Mobile Video: a $16B Market in 5 Years?,” Unstrung News Analysis, May 29, 2009, http://www.unstrung.com/document.asp?doc_id=177359&f_src=unstrung_gnews, accessed June 3, 2009.
[8] Henry Jenkins, Convergence Culture (New York: New York University Press, 2006), 2.
[9] Matt Richel, and Matt Stone, “Blue Ray’s Fuzzy Future,” NY Times, January 5, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/05/technology/05bluray.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=blu-ray%27s%20fuzzy%20future&st=cse
[10] Ibid.
[11] Saul Hansell, “To Connect to the Internet, Just Turn on Your TV,” NY Times, January 11, 2009, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/01/12/technology/personaltech/12cesexec.html?partner=rss&emc=rss
[12] McLuhan, “Reversal of the Overheated Medium,” 35.
[13] Ibid, 36
[14] For an extensive examination of these developments see Thomas L. Freedman, The World is Flat (New York: Picador, Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2007).
[15] For a historical outline on how this took place, see T.R. Reid, The United States of Europe (New York: Penguin Press, 2004).
[16] Douglas Rushkoff, “The Merchants of Cool,” Frontline, 2001, http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/cool, accessed June 5, 2009.

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