Volume One; Number One
Hello readers! I am Dave (David or D.H.) Robbins, the publisher of Media/Culture Magazine. We are a bi-monthly online publication focused on looking back upon our culture and how media has effected it.
By itself, media is not just what we hear from the major news outlets or read through Twitter. This definition has made it a dirty word, or perhaps some sort of monster lurking beneath the bed of our fears, ready to attack us with some breaking news that will plunge the stock market or take away or redefine the things we have valued. It’s unfortunate, in this world rife with “fake news” and “alternative facts,” that the media is the easiest concept to blame. The oldest definition of the Greek word “media” is “the middle.” Taken this way, it could mean a vehicle—and not a venue, as it is so often presented—or an arbitrator through the information it presents us. How the viewer-hearer-reader interprets the media is on him or her, and that is where the power of media is ignited.
In his 1964 book, “Understanding Media,” Marshall McLuhan has famously stated that “The Medium is the Message.” The medium is like like a darkened light bulb; a thing meaning nothing. But then the light bulb is switched on and it illuminates the room, revealing what is in it. When the light bulb is is switched on, it sends out the message of illumination. What we see, which we didn’t see before, could change our perspective, and perhaps give us the verdict of an opinion. A better example is television; the family campfire of the second half of the 20th century.
The TV is merely an appliance, like a refrigerator. Turn it on, and the message come as through the airwaves, and that is what affects our opinion. Back in the turbulent sixties, we would turn on the six-o-clock CBS News Hour, and there was Walter Kronkite, visiting our living room like a wise and benign family uncle, who, in an odd sort of way, put our minds guardedly at ease. Why? Because we trusted him to interpret and then tell us the truth and that is what he mostly did as a medium of the news. How what we heard (versus what he said) to sway our opinion became a function of the media. So, the Medium may be the Message, but the Media is the Massage.
Media also provides the Lego blocks of our culture, and builds upon it. Culture, like nature, does not happen in a vacuum. It does not grow through the osmosis of history. Culture is made by the verdicts, opinions and deeds of people, for we are like culture’s barometer. Media did not just start to happen with the Television any more than Culture didn’t just start with the Renaissance. It’s been that way for over 50,000 years, and counting.
So here is a good place to start with Media/Culture Magazine. In this issue’s feature, “From Caves to Computers—The Origin of Communication”, we start with the cave paintings.
Their messages of the hunt; a primary need, and the sacredness of the animals; the victims of the hunt, conveyed a balance between Man and Nature, which we seemed to have lost sight of today. But then this is compared to the genesis of the Internet, which would overnight and forever change the nature of how we communicate.
Our second feature is also an on-going series about the 1960s, transcribed from a series of lectures called “The Sixties: Re-visiting a Crucial Decade.” In fact, what we felt in the sixties, that passion which drives a generational change, is very similar to what we are going through today. We begin this series with the early John F. Kennedy years, from his candidacy to The Cuban Missile Crisis (which will be detailed in out next issue). Kennedy was a harbinger of a new generation, only to be cut down too soon.We all have our own ideas for when our media and culture changed, but for me it was Kennedy’s assassination. The was the day, when Walter Kronkite wept openly on TV, that the old way of media changed to the new that we have built upon until this day.
Media did not just start to happen with the Television any more than Culture didn’t just start with the Renaissance. It’s been that way for over 50,000 years, and counting... What we hear (versus what is said) can sway our opinion became a function of the media.
Art is the touchstone of culture, and Media/Culture Magazine is also about art and design and technology and the effect upon progress. This concept is discussed in “From Caves to Computers,” but is exhibited more precisely in “Romancing the Car,” the third of this issue’s features. This is the first part of how our love affair with the automobile has been persuaded by advertising. This will focus on car advertising from 1900 to 1950. Media and culture is not without persuasive spin, and advertising is a prime example of this. But spin is something else that has been with us for 50,000+ years, from the tribal Shaman to the Columbus Day Mattress Sales.
A unique feature of Media/Culture Magazine is the way it is presented. As you’ve probably already noticed, its design is like that of a traditional magazine, and not a typical web-zine or blog. Call me old-fashioned, but I like Magazine design because that’s where my career was. But two of the articles, “From Caves to Computers” and “The Sixties—Re-visiting a Crucial Decade,” are also presented as voiced-over videos, transcribed from the articles. There are three of these: two for “..Caves...” and one for “The Sixties...”. We hope you enjoy this approach.
Media/Culture Magazine is to be published as a bi-monthly, and we’re looking toward becoming
a monthly, but for this we need to staff-up. Also we are on the look-out for advertisers, and contributor’s articles. So if you have a less than 1,500 word article you’d like to contribute, please send a short description to me:
and I would be happy to take a look at it. Please put “Submission for Media-Culture“ in your subject line. If you have any other questions, you can use the same e-mail but put “Media-Culture query” in the subject line.