The course is designed for the digital professional of tommorrow - especially the artist, business professional, media critic, and architect.

Understanding Media: The Individual and Society

The question for the current media information designer is, "Given that you can reach a person with any of the digital media when should you use which medium and why?" To answer this question a knowledge of the effects of media in both the personal and public dimensions is required.

The digital professional of tomorrow needs a new curriculum today. It is one that does not seek to specialize but to equalize. Whether the digital professional develops as an artist, business person, media critic, or architect there are new emerging rules, roles, and reasons for their identities. Exploring the premises, experiences and the effects of the new media is fundamental to understanding one's new personal and social identity.

The strategy will be to step back and survey all media, then to step closer and examine the new media which is digital, combined, interactive, networked and personal. Finally we will explore new emerging individual and social models and begin the development of new ones.

The Course Week by Week

WEEK 1 - A study of all media is essential

Re-opening Marshall McLuhan's Understanding Media (MIT Press 1995) as a base to reconsider our media assumptions, the instructor shares years of research into the enigmatic life and newly re-explored ideas of Marshall McLuhan. The class will look at the origins of media and develop perceptual skills. We will examine McLuhan's The City as Classroom - a book of inquiry for students beginning to understand media.

WEEK 2 - Understanding personal experience and digital technology

After examining conventional media and their principles, we will look at the special nature of modern media and emerging new media - specifically multimedia, networks, and computers. To understand multi-modal experiences we will look at current models of the mind, emotion and the senses. The emphasis will be on Dr. Richard Cytowic's The Man Who Tasted Shapes or The Neurological Side of Neuropsychology, two books developing synesthesia theory. To understand interactivity we move from psychological explanations and re-examine the nature and birth of the personal computer. We will look further at digital networks and review Nicholas Negroponte's Being Digital, George Gilder's Life After Television and the writings of contemporary media critics.

WEEK 3 - What are we building and why?

To complete a foundation for future thinking, we will critically reexamine modern media and their effects. We will consider proposed visions of networks and digital technology. To understand the models for personal and social use of new media we will compare how modern architectural theories regard design. Using architecture as the example we will compare modern real world and emerging digital world architecture for buildings and cities. We will review William Mitchell's City of Bits, Christopher Alexander's Timeless Way of Building and Pattern Language, Stuart Brand's How Buildings Learn and examples of the modern deconstructive architects like Bernardo Fort-Brescia and Laurinda Spear.

Instructor: Mark Beaulieu

Course - The course as it happens.

Course - If you are interested in the course, read the official course description.

Kiosk - The instructor's McLuhan Kiosk was built in 1995.

Web - Mark's McLuhan Web Pages continue to grow.

Your TV is tuned to http://www.digitallantern.net/beaulieuhome.htm/McLuhan/course/spring96/course.html
March 13, 1996