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ARCHIVED - Old Messengers, New Media: The Legacy of Innis and McLuhan

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Discussion Questions

  1. What are the core themes of the staples theory as it was developed in Innis's writing? Does the staples theory apply to the Canadian economy now? How does the staples theory factor into a global economy?

  2. Can you apply Innis's thoughts about the monopolization of communication to the ownership of media in the global economy? Who owns the media? How is it created? Controlled? Disseminated? How do you see monopolies of communication operating in society today?

  3. Robert Babe notes in his analysis of McLuhan and Innis that they differed in their understanding of the consequences of electronic media. He asks: Do electronic media augment and heighten the space-binding properties of print, as Innis suggested, or do they amplify the acoustic-tactile sensibilities associated with time-bound tribalism, as McLuhan claimed?

  4. With reference to a specific electronic medium, consider both Innis's and McLuhan's points of view by discussing the relative merits and limitations of each theorist. Do you favour Innis's "dark vision" of the future of electronic communication, or McLuhan's more optimistic, even utopian, ideas about it? Using the concepts figure and ground, discuss the message of the iPod.