V.I.Ps of Social and Digital Media

I usually do additional research on the authors of the required readings for my classes. However, I rarely ever pay attention to the researchers, academics and persons cited within these readings. I decided to do some short biographies of some of the important persons cited in our readings. I did this hoping to get some more context on their ideas and philosophies that may have been expressed in the readings.

Geoghegan, Bernard – “Information” (2016)

Claude Shannon

Claude Shannon (1916-2001) was an American mathematician and engineer. He is dubbed the “Father of Information Theory” (Nokia Bell Labs) and is known for his “Digital Critical Theory Design”. Geoghegan cited him for his mathematical equation to reduce noise and errors that interfere with interpretation in communication.

Jonathan Sterne

Jonathan Sterne is currently a professor at McGill University. He was cited for his definition of “compression” in relation to the development of the coding system for the telegraph. Sterne is also known for his studies of the “cultural dimensions of communication” and history of sound in the Western hemisphere  (McGill University).

Ralph Hartley

Hartley (1885 – 1970) was an engineer and researcher. He worked at Bell Laboratories and was known for inventing the “Hartley oscillator”, “Hartley transform” and having the “Hartley” (a unit of information) being named after him. Hartley was cited for his proposal of using the word “information” in exchange for the word “intelligence”, stating that human reasoning and communication signals should be kept separated.

Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke – “Introduction” (2009)

Walter Benjamin

Walter Benjamin (1892 – 1940) was a German philosopher who was associated with the Frankfurt School. His essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” (1936), was cited referring to Benjamin’s theory of “culture industry”. Benjamin theorized that culture and decisions within society were standardized and structured by institutions and the government as they had the power to allocate and produce the resources and services needed by individuals.

Harold Innis

Harold Innis (1894 – 1952) was a Canadian political and economic theorist. Briggs and Burke cited Innis for his philosophy of speech and its influence in society. Innis believed that information was often monopolized throughout history, especially by religious organizations. He called this the “monopoly of knowledge” and inferred that it constrained the transmission of information within society.

Flew, Terry, and R. Smith. – “Approaches to New Media” (2014)

Marshall McLuhan

Herbert Marshall McLuhan (1911 – 1980) was a media theorist and professor at the University of Toronto. He was also the chair of the Centre for Culture and Technology, which was a position created just for him (Thompson and Hauen). McLuhan studied mass media and its effect on society. His tetrad model was featured in Flew’s and Smith’s book, which emphasized that his theory that “the medium is the message”. He believed that the medium used to transmit information was more important than the message and was an “extension of human sensory and expressive capabilities” (Thompson and Hauen, Flew and Smith).

Dijck, Jose van. – “Disassembling Platforms, Reassembling Sociality” (2013)

Manuel Castells

Castells is a Spanish sociologist who mainly researches communication, politics and globalization. He is currently a Sociology and Planning professor at the University of California at Berkeley. Dijck cited Castells for his “political economic approach” in analysing networks, connectivity and technology. This approach focuses on the relationships among “power holders”, producers and consumers and technology’s effect on these relationships. Castells states that globalization has a key role in the transformation of information technology (Castells).

Humphreys, Ashlee – “Social Media: Enduring Principles: Chapter 9” (2015)

Mark Granovetter

Mark Granovetter is an American Sociologist and professor at Stanford University. He is known for his studies on social networks within technology, society, politics and the economy. Granovetter was cited for his interpretation of weak ties in social networks. In his book, “The Rise of the Network Society”, he stated weak ties are just as important as strong ties within a social network. They act as “bridges” between network segments (Granovetter).

Written by Shannon Spencer


Briggs, Asa, and Peter Burke. “Introduction”. A Social History of the Media: From Gutenberg to the Internet. Polity. 2009. 1-13.

Castells, M. The Rise of the Network Society. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons Ltd, 2010.

Engineering and Techonology History Wiki. Ralph Hartley. 24 February 2016. 25 September 2017. <http://ethw.org/Ralph_Hartley&gt;.

Dijck, Jose van. “Disassembling Platforms, Reassembling Sociality”. The Culture of Connectivity: A Critical History of Social Media. Oxford University Press. 2013. 25-44.

Flew, Terry, and R. Smith. “Approaches to New Media”. An Introduction to New Media. Vol. Second Canadian Edition. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2014

Geoghegan, B. Bernard Dionysius Geoghegan. n.d. 25 September 2017. <http://www.bernardg.com/&gt;.

Geoghegan, Bernard. “Information”. Ed. Peters, Benjamin. Digital Keywords : A Vocabulary of Information Society and Culture. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton UP, 2016. 173-183. Print.

Gordon, T. Marshell Who? July 2002. 26 September 2017. <https://www.marshallmcluhan.com/biography/&gt;.

Granovetter, M. “The Strength of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited.” Sociological Theory 1 (1983): 201-233.

Historica Canada. Harold Innis. n.d. 25 September 2017. <http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/harold-innis/&gt;.

Humphreys, Ashlee. Social Media: Enduring Principles. Oxford University Press, 2015.

McGill University. Jonathan Sterne. 2017. 25 September 2017. <https://www.mcgill.ca/ahcs/people-contacts/faculty/sterne&gt;.

Nokia Bell Labs. Claude Shannon: A Goliath Among Giants. n.d. 25 September 2017. <https://www.bell-labs.com/claude-shannon/&gt;.

Standford University. Mark Granovetter. n.d. 25 September 2017. <https://sociology.stanford.edu/people/mark-granovetter&gt;.

Thompson, M. and J. Hauen. “Who is Marshall McLuhan? Meet the Canadian media theorist who predicted the internet.” National Post 21 July 2017: 25.

University of California at Berkeley. Manuel Castells. n.d. 26 September 2017. <http://sociology.berkeley.edu/professor-emeritus/manuel-castells&gt;.



One thought on “V.I.Ps of Social and Digital Media

  1. Shannon, this is an incredible compendium of material you’ve assembled here! Well done. The research is comprehensive and accurate and the list of references impeccable. If you’d like some additional SM points, feel free to include these authors on the timeline, or build your own timeline. If the latter, here’s a site I would recommend for doing so that might be more conducive to the types of content you have here: https://timeline.knightlab.com/

    Great work.


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