Mediology (Definition according to Debray)
Mediology is a new term first used by Regis Debray in 1979. It stayed unknown and not respected until the English version of the Debray’s book Transmitting Culture, published in 2004. After 2007 it is teached in Universities for example in Paris and in Copenhagen. Mediology tries to study transmission of cultural meanings in societys. The transmission of the things important enough to transmit to future generations: knowledge and traditions - culture.
Mediology is based on the differentiation of transmission and communication. According to Debray to communicate means to transport information in a space within one and the same space-time-sphere. To transmit means to transport information in time between different space-time-spheres. Communication is a moment in a longer process and a fragment of a larger whole, that we call transmission.(Debray 2003: 11)
Debray uses library as an example of a great medium (according to Debray) for transmission. Not only because there memory is materialized within books, which people can read, but because it gathers the people who also write, make the transmission active. Library is the medium, but the force is in the communitys around them. The community is what "transforms the warehouse into a vector".
Mediology means a wide-ranging way to analyze cultural transmissions in a society and across societies. Mediology pays specific attention to the organisations and technical innovations and their role in ensuring the ability of cultural transmission. Mediology is dealing with historical, social and cultural effects of media. The word consists of the two parts medio and logy. Logy expressing the character of a science and medio in this context mediation which is the transmission as a net of technical, social and cultural nature.
In the centre of mediology is the discovery of the inbetween which means the interaction between technology and culture and it pays specific attention to the organisations and technical innovations and their role in ensuring the ability of cultural transmission.. It is important to know how social structures and relations effect technical strucures of the transmisson in general.
There are three aspects of culture. Debray states that Mediology is an approach that refers to the relation of these three aspects of culture - they are interdependent.
1. symbolic form
2. collective organisation
3. technical system of communication
“The practice of mediology is not a science, and thus is able to range across academic disciplines. The main areas involved are those of longitudinal history (the history of technologies, the history of the book, the histories and theories of aesthetics) and also research in communications and information theory.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediology)
“Mediology is not a narrow specialist area of contemporary academic knowledge (as media sociology is), nor does it aspire to be a precise science of signs (as semiotics did). It differs from the models put forwards by communication studies, in that its focus is not isolated individuals and a fleeting few moments of communication. Instead mediologists study the cultural transmission of religions, ideologies, the arts and political ideas in society, and across societies, over a time period that is usually to be measured in months, decades or millenia.”(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mediology) According to Debray mediology shows the function of medium in all it’s forms and over a long time span. For example, the short time frame of the life of a cult has been transformed, through books and writing, into Christianity; the Bible is transformed into an institution and into materialized organization. “The interplay of the two temporalities occurs through media, technological instruments for recording the present that are gradually shifting toward their noble role as memory and archiving tools.”(http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=537)
To explain the affect of technologies and media on the evolution of human culture, Debray made a categorization to describe the various media periods which he calls mediaspheres. At this point he has listed four mediaspheres: the logosphere characterized by the domination of writing; the graphosphere dominated by printing; the videosphere where audiovisual technologies reign and a new sphere he at the moment calls a cybersphere to reflect the Internet and World Wide Web.
Debray, Régis (2003): Einführung in die Mediologie: Facetten der Medienkultur. Berne: Haupt Verlag.
Mediology. (2009, February 5). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 11:48, March 4, 2009, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Mediology&oldid=268664422
Régis Debray, Introduction à la médiologie. (2004). In La fondation Daniel Langlois. Retrieved 11:48, March 4, 2009, from http://www.fondation-langlois.org/html/e/page.php?NumPage=537
Contributor: Lauri Heikonen for Seminar Pedagogical Media Theory (Wise 2008/09)