An interview with Brian Cogan

Figure/Ground, as part pf their ongoing series, have an interview with Brian Cogan. It covers a range of issues around academic work and closes with a discussion of his research. Below is his response to a question about media ecology:

I think one of the things that attracted me to the school of thought was not just the professors and colleagues I mentioned earlier, but how different it was than other approaches. It seemed to speak to my punk sensibility that encouraged people to create their own worldview. I know that media ecology gets some static from people who (not having read much of it usually) dismiss it as not having a specific methodology. I think a lot of the social sciences are infatuated with quantitative research and with certain exceptions I don’t buy into much of it (it gets into too much of “four out of five dentists surveyed…” field for my tastes). I think when I first read Neil Postman’s article “Social Science as Moral Theology” where he essentially said that all “social scientists” are essentially commenting on the nature of human life. I think that he was right, and like McLuhan, was enamored not of “proving” anything, but of throwing contentious ideas out there for public discussion. On the other hand, I think that the idea of the “hardening of the categories” is implicit in our field as well as almost any other today. (Try getting a reasonable answer from an insurance company over the phone!) Media Ecology, along with cultural critical studies and subcultural studies and lot of other fields that some others and I use for our work allow us to ask the right questions.

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One Response to An interview with Brian Cogan

  1. Brian is correct when he states that there is a certain punk element to Media Ecology, with a certain sense of nilism, a hope for a better tomorrow through criticism, and throwing out contentious theories on media at which others balk (hence Neil Postman’s possbily subconscious attraction to Camille Paglia, I believe). Perhaps that’s why so many musician are attracted to Media Ecology?

    Neil Postman always squirmed at the term Social Scientist.because of the lack of precison and “A+A=AA” in the theory. He considered himself a social critic.

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