Acoustic Space – McLuhan

June 8th, 2010

McLuhan, M. (1997). Media research: technology, art, communication: Routledge.

In many preliterate cultures the binding power of oral tradition is so strong that the eye is subservient to the ear. … In our society, however, to be real, a thing must be visible, and preferably constant” (39).

I largely concur with this direction of thought. In the era of primary orality, the spoken word was the main means of communication. However, I’d argue that that was experienced in combination with and simultaneous to the visual, the ability to see the speaker’s appearance and all of his or her non-verbal cues. But, today, we are certainly a visual species; we trust the eye, finding more faith and understanding when we see it in addition to experiencing it with other senses. In some ways, this view is also relevant to social presence theory and the media theories (richness, synchronicity, naturalness) that rate communication methods on hierarchical levels, each placing FtF communication as the highest and most rich, synchronous, natural, etc. method, since FtF includes visual, aural, and immediacy. Read the rest of this entry »