Regis Debray – What is Mediology?
Regis Debray’s article “What is Mediology?” focuses on defining, and offering further explanation for, the term “Mediology”. According to Debray “Mediology” is where an interdisciplinary grouping of fields – including philosophy, history, technology, literary studies, art, and “infocom” – combine together to form a new discipline focused upon showcasing the “function of medium in all its forms, over a long time span (since the birth of writing)… without becoming obsessed by today’s media.” (p2) Through this research one can begin to analyze the relationships between culture and technology, both in how culture influences technology, and how technology influences culture.
He uses an example Walter Benjamin proposed, as he calls Benjamin one of the “predecessors of mediology,” of photography and art. Benjamin didn’t just analyze photograph in terms of art, but he looked at how photography had changed our perceived notion of art. He does not just look at technology and define it in terms of technology, but looks at technologies and how they have affected the culture through their existence. Debray states that “mediologists are interested in the effects of the cultural structuring of a technical innovation … or, in the opposite direction, in the technical bases of a social or cultural development.” (p4) Mediology is not based around objects, but is based around relationships between objects. The goal of this field is to “destroy the wall that separates technology … and culture” (p17)
How would media scholars look at the Internet through the eye of mediology? How are virtual worlds, such as Second Life, changing the way the digital is viewed culturally? (For example, how digital items are being accepted as having physical value). How is this changing society’s view on “realness”?