MEA @ ICA 2020

UPDATE: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s ICA conference has been converted to a virtual format. Click here for more details.

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The Media Ecology Association is sponsoring the following panel at this year’s International Communication Association conference in Gold Coast, Australia, May 21–25, 2020. More details will be added to this page as they become available.

Open Media Ecology, and Openness to Media Ecology

Chair: Laura Trujillo Liñán, Universidad Panamericana, Campus México

1. Scott Haden Church, Brigham Young University and Gavin Feller, Umeå University - “Simpsonmemes and the Swarm Archive: Or, Toward a Meme Ecology”

This essay proposes an updated interpretation of meme ecology to include internet memes and digital remix. Independently, an internet meme cannot be understood on its own because it constitutes a network of variegated remixed material. The meme ecology posits that cultural transmission is separate from human intervention, though remix subverts this idea as it is dependent on algorithms to find an audience. In order to understand video memes in digital culture, a framework for understanding the ecology in which they live must be examined in terms of time and space and the symbiotic relationship in which they are created by vernacular voices and proliferated by algorithms. The concept of an open versus closed meme provides yet another dimension to meme ecology as a way to understand the politics and power of meme boundaries (i.e., who can and can’t make certain memes, who will understand them, etc.).

This essay puts forth the concept of a swarm archive, which comes into being through the diachronic movement of the text and the valuable marginalia it picks up along the way. The popularity of The Simpsons coupled with Internet fan culture has produced copious remixed Internet memes from the show. Like Quintilian’s classical text Institutio Oratoria, which has evolved through time and culture into “Quintilianisms,” or essential, non-authorial iterations of the text, The Simpsons has evolved into a Simpsonalia, a swarm archive. This analysis of Simpsonalia is a representative case of our proposed digital meme ecology.

2. Flora Keshishian, St. John’s University - “The Information and Communication Technology Bandwagon, Capitalism, and the Academy: An Open Communication about A Dangerous Mix”

The U.S., like almost the entire world, has gotten on the information and communication technology (ICT) bandwagon. And the academy has been one of the riders of the bandwagon. Catchphrases such as “online pedagogy,” “virtual professor,” and “virtual degree” have become a commonplace. Traditionally, one of the purposes of higher education has been helping students to realize and question society’s ills. In contemporary digital age, however, the academy expects the faculty to keep up with the fast-developing ICT so they can “engage” students via technology. When academic institutions are considered business centers, education as a commodity, and students as customers/consumers who want instant gratification, the academy’s primary goal – like any profit-driven business in corporate capitalism – is to please the customer, in order to increase revenue. This dire situation makes questioning the ICT out of the question.

3. Paige Lee, Brigham Young University - “A Social Critique of ‘Radio Gaga’: The Influence of Radio to Television on Culture”

Innovation in technology has immensely impacted our culture, leaving society with a loss of potential for impactful content in entertainment mediums. A pattern of continuous diminishment in existing mediums show that whatever new technology is given to the public is presented and viewed as valuable, disregarding the power and the potential of media environments to influence positive change in culture. With this analysis, we argue that the introduction of television diminished the perceived value of radio because it engaged more than just listening and provided entertainment that consumed our society. We analyze the song “Radio Gaga” to ironically show the potential for cultural development in media through a lyrical evaluation of historical contexts and a critique on the advancement of new technology. The pattern of development in new technology has continued and will continue, creating a culture where existing media will fail to reach its full potential.

Keywords: Radio, Television, Neil Postman, Queen, Technology.

4. David Linton, Marymount Manhattan College - “The Menstrual Media Ecology in Two Media Settings”

Though, on the surface, it would appear that Australia and the United States have much in common based on similar colonial experiences, language, cultural heritage, etc., the two countries differ in significant ways, some subtle and others more pronounced. In both settings, consumer capitalism is the prevailing economic mode and in many cases identical products are available on market shelves. However, advertising practices reveal that sometimes there are different underlying values functioning within the social rules of order. This presentation explores how differences in attitudes about gender and appropriate expression of matters sometimes thought to be “private” find expression in advertisements for women’s menstrual products. Using examples from television and magazine advertisements from both countries as well as documents that set forth advertising standards and practices, levels of acceptability for public mention of menstrual cycle management will be compared and contrasted.

5. Laura Trujillo Liñán, Universidad Panamericana, Campus México - “Open Communication in a Posthumanist Age”

The development of technology and access to information is increasing: we have new technologies that allow us to access more accurate information about our reality and the world in general. Likewise, this information is increasing to the point that it is not possible to arrive at knowledge of everything that is offered to us. In the beginning, the purpose of this information was for the benefit of man: for his development and increasing knowledge in different areas, and wherein he could develop himself in better ways. However, what we have come to realize is the limitations we have. It seems, according to some theories, that we have reached an era of suppression of man because his abilities have reached their limit, and that it is now time for man to yield his place to the era of post-humanism, wherein technology has the power and helps man as something inferior to it.

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