As I shape and refine my working / learning practices over the online workshop ‘Personal Knowledge Mastery’, I have also discovered a tool for sense-making, that Harold Jarche shares in this blog post: McLuhan’s media tetrad. New to me.

“I use Marshall and Eric McLuhan’s laws of media to ask better questions about how technology affects those who use it. In the following presentation I have put together a number of tetrads, or hypotheses on the possible impact of social media, the internet, and other technologies. In summary, the laws of media state that every medium (technology) extends a human property, obsolesces the previous medium (& makes it a luxury good), retrieves a much older medium & reverses its properties when pushed to its limits.” 

One of the activities of the online workshop is to examine a technologies while using the McLuhan tetrad. Below is my take on one technology: audio.

tetrad sensemaking audio personal knowledge mastery rotana ty

This fun and thoughtful activity enables me to see the audio technology with fresh eyes.

As an avid listener of podcasts on the go, I was not thinking how it relates to other past and today’s technologies and their impacts on the world. The same thinking can be applied to smart speakers when I was experimenting and mulling over them about automation.

Harold also asks this question for this activity:

“Would this kind of perspective be helpful in making business decisions or where to invest your energy?”

My energy is still invested into podcasts. Filtering the quality and what’s in it for me of each podcast takes explorations, efforts and time.

After sharing this blog post in the private space of the online workshop, Harold commented with his analysis on the effects of the same medium:

“Here’s another tetrad for you, Rotana (you can make several on the same medium):
Medium: electric audio
Extends: our listening
Obsolesces: live performances
Retrieves: the salon
Reverses into: eavesdropping by the surveillance economy”

audio technology sensemaking tetrad impact society harold jarche rotana ty

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