November CommQuote

Using two different biology metaphors Neil Postman delivered his most defining description of media ecology at the 2000 Media Ecology Association convention:

…Our first thinking about the subject was guided by a biological metaphor. You will remember from the time when you first became with a Petri dish, that a medium was defined as a substance within which a culture grows. If you replace the word “substance” with the word “technology,” the definition would stand as a fundamental principle of media ecology: A medium is a technology within which a culture grows: that is to say, it gives form to a culture’s politics, social organization, and habitual ways of thinking. Beginning with that idea, we invoked still another biological metaphor, that of ecology….We put the word “media” in front of the word “ecology” to suggest that we were not simply interested in media, but in the ways in which the interaction between media and human beings give a culture its character and, one might say, help culture to maintain a symbolic balance.

–Neil Postman, The Humanism of Media Ecology, Keynote Address delivered at the Inaugural Media Ecology Association Convention; June 16–17, 2000

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