MEDIA ECOLOGY ASSOCIATION CONVENTION
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
JUNE 22-26, 2005
From June 22-26, 2005, scholars from around the globe gathered at Ford-ham University in New York City for the Media Ecology Association's sixth annual convention with the theme of "The Biases of Media." The expression "Media Ecology" is the term Neil Postman used in 1970 to designate the then newly formed PhD program at New York University. This program began to study media and communication technologies from a broad-based, multidisciplinary, and socio-historical perspective. Seven years ago, the Media Ecology Association (MEA) was founded to bring together the New York, Toronto, and St. Louis schools, along with others who shared an interest in the media ecology intellectual tradition.
This year's convention--larger than ever, including the addition of an extra day of workshops and lectures--was a high-power event of scholarly presentations, engaging discussions, and artistic productions. Convention participants met and interacted with scholars, artists, and activists from the fields of anthropology, graphic arts, philosophy, physics, theology, sociology, media, and communications. They also attended a wide range of events spanning political, theological, economic, philosophical, scientific, and artistic dimensions. Featured presentations focused on the works of Walter J. Ong, Harold A. Innis, Postman, and of course, Marshall McLuhan. Among the featured speakers were noted scholars such as James Carey, Frank E. X. Dance, Paul Levinson, Eric McLuhan, Paul Soukup, and Sarah van den Berg.
Smaller break-out sessions addressed a wide range of media ecology interests: the dimensions of faith and the sacred in communication, the study of visual communication, the relations between communication and culture, ancient and modern rhetoric, the relevance of general semantics, digital technologies, and the implications of new and emerging media. There were also more directed workshops including one on mime and McLuhan by Wayne Constantineau, a workshop on general semantics-based media literacy given by Gregg Hoffmann, and a media ethnography workshop by John Carey. Mary Ann Allison, this year's winner of the Harold A. Innis Award for Outstanding Thesis or Dissertation in the Field, offered a workshop on virtual community, Mark Dery led another on the sexual grotesque online, and Paul Guzzardo from the MediaARTS Alliance presented on art and surveillance. Patricia Keeler helped to demonstrate the labyrinth as sacred space. The convention was bookended by sessions on media authorship and creativity featuring such writers and video artists as Marleen Barr, Leslie Carroll, Michael Joyce, Andrew Postman, Meir Z. Ribalow, Douglas Rushkoff, Katie Salen, David Shenk, and Marina Zurkow. The conference also featured a few performative events, including a screening of this year's winner of the John Culkin award, a video documentary entitled A Conversation with Neil Postman (2003), and a wonderfully amusing live musical performance entitled "Media Ecology Unplugged" by Bill Bly and John McDaid. …