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New Media and Digital Humanities

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The Extensions of Man

with a new introduction by Lewis H. Lapham This reissue of Understanding Media marks the thirtieth anniversary (1964-1994) of Marshall McLuhan's classic expose on the state of the then emerging phenomenon of mass media. Terms and phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" are now part of the lexicon, and McLuhan's theories continue to challenge our sensibilities and our assumptions about how and what we communicate.There has been a notable resurgence of interest in McLuhan's work in the last few years, fueled by the recent and continuing conjunctions between the cable companies and the regional phone companies, the appearance of magazines such as WiRed, and the development of new media models and information ecologies, many of which were spawned from MIT's Media Lab. In effect, media now begs to be redefined. In a new introduction to this edition of Understanding Media, Harper's editor Lewis Lapham reevaluates McLuhan's work in the light of the technological as well as the political and social changes that have occurred in the last part of this century.

The Rise of Political Advertising on Television

In this third edition of their classic study of the political commercial, or "polispot," veteran media analysts Edwin Diamond and Stephen Bates reveal the backstage stories of the 1988 presidential campaign - the Ailes-Atwater media mastery, the Dukakis team's babel of TV voices, Willie Horton's transformation from convict to celebrity. The authors take a close critical look at the key political ads of 1988 and 1990, with particular attention to the subtexts directed at voters' racial attitudes and fears. They also preview the 30-second arguments and attacks of the 1992 media campaign.

In a new chapter, Diamond and Bates examine the case against spots. They take a hard look at the societal ills that critics have blamed on TV campaigns, including mudslinging, misrepresentation, and malaise. They evaluate the proposals to ban or severely restrict the spot. They also assess the growing press scrutiny of TV campaigns, such as the use of "truth boxes" in newspapers. Their verdict on political ads will surprise many viewers - and cheer all friends of the First Amendment.

As the media consultants and their handiwork grow more subtle and sophisticated, and as political campaigns increasingly exist only on the home screen, The Spot is an indispensable guide for the campaign season.

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