Thursday, February 12, 2009

Media = People....Orly?!

The last book assigned in class was "The Media Equation". First and foremost, what a pain it was for me to obtain a copy of this book. I had originally purchased a used copy on a week in advance and thought I had given myself enough time for shipping. Apparently not, as I did not receive the book until a week AFTER the book was due. !&%@#. (I purchased another copy from a local book store)

In "The Media Equation", researchers propose that “people” can be replaced directly in many of their hypothesis regarding a human's reaction or actions towards another person. So, if a person was polite to other people, it would be polite to a media equivalent such as a computer. Many of the points they discussed do seem interesting. Experiments on honesty towards machines as well as personal affection seemed obvious to others, yet nobody would ever make a comment about it in a normal situation. Human nature seems to dictate that we treat these objects of media as if we treat humans out of subconscious progression rather than a conscious decision. While reading the book, I reflected on my personal behavior around mentioned objects. Sure enough, I had reacted mostly in the same way most test subjects had reacted. However, some things they mentioned seemed a little farfetched for me. The fact that this book was written about 2 decades ago had some effect on how it would appeal to me. Things such as the experiment on visual and audio fidelity would probably have a different outcome in today's world due to more advanced technology. If they had tested whether or not people would have liked the Hi-Definition programming better in 2009, I’d wager it most likely yield an alternate reaction. One of the more common but seemingly simple conclusions they came up with was the generalist vs. specialist discussion. I thought this particular experiment could be more attributed to how people were taught throughout life. If a child was always directed to go to a specialist for their respective causes instead of a more general alterative, wouldn't it be reasonable to say that, by intuition, they would automatically assume the specialist media would be better at something than its general alternative regardless of their quality of materials? If Fox News presented a better story piece than CNN, people would probably still prefer to watch CNN instead. I’d like to see some of their experiments repeated in today’s world and compare the results to the book. I assume that some differences would appear, while not many.
Overall, it was an interesting read for the most part. Some may argue with some of their test methods, but for the most part, I thought it was reasonable.


  1. I think there is still a limit to how much audio and video fidelity matters, but I will say video fidelity has more importance than the book gives it credit for.

  2. It being written in 1996 can be equated that some things of the book are outdated, but I'd say there is some relevency to the specialist/generalist findings given in the book. This book is a great deal of the emperor in new clothes.

    Same story, different characters.

  3. This blog is hella good. It IS outdated, because it was written 13+ years ago, but for the most part, things are good.

  4. I actually didn't account for the fact that the book was written over a decade ago when I wrote my blog entry. I still think that the authors could've done a better job at justifying why the criticism of their experiments did not apply. Perhaps that would be more apparent if I looked at the experiment reports they wrote, which would include procedures and actual data.

  5. I would agree with the HD vs non HD comment. I can't remember exactly what tv pictures looked like back in the day. But I know that I like watching anything on my dad's HDTV over my own.