Abstract. Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited but least understood of communication theorists. This is particularly true in. PROFESSOR INNIS has written a pioneering book and made a serious contrib nology, we can discover the specific “bias of communication” in each perio. Download Citation on ResearchGate | Harold Innis and “the bias of communication | Fifty years after his death, Harold Innis remains one of the most widely cited.

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The development of “mechanized” communications media such as mass-circulation newspapers had shifted the balance decisively in favour of space and power, over time, continuity and knowledge.

Biographer John Watson writes that “the United States represents to Innis something akin to cultural apocalypse. Innis considers the “significance of communication to the rise and innnis of cultural traits” Thus we learn from Innis that all great empires are most vulnerable in the moment of their over-reaching. Dispatches from the Information Revolution.

It is more useful to think of the bias of onnis as related to the ability of the message to survive transmission and have an impact over space or over time.

The boundaries of the empire shift, expanding and contracting. Sad to say, I splayed another motherfucking shotgun blast of coffee all over page fifty-three— Monopolies of Knowledgeaye—at which point my shoulders drooped sufficient to chat with my knees and I could acutely visualize the noose dangling from the bedroom ceiling.

Harold Adams Innis: The Bias of Communications & Monopolies of Power

Interestingly, the reason for the complexity of this system of writing on papyrus is explained by several factors. Biographer John Watson warns against the tendency to apply Innis’s concept of media ‘bias’ in a mechanical or deterministic way. European guns used in war and conquest, for example, enabled the indigenous peoples to hunt more efficiently, but led to the rapid destruction of their food supply and of the beaver they depended on to obtain European goods.

Theodore Roosevelt mastered the newspaper as a communications device, just as his fifth cousin, Franklin D. Innis wrote that the interplay between knowledge and power was always a crucial factor in understanding empire: These are intended to carry stories and messages that last for many generations, but tend to reach limited audiences. First published inthis masterful collection of essays explores the relationship between a He tried to show that media ‘biases’ toward time or space affected the complex interrelationships needed to sustain an empire.


The Bias of Communication is considered one of the most influential books harolx published in this haropd, this text played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory. Advantages accrue to those who have the knowledge first. My library Help Advanced Book Search.

Business done in back rooms or in the corridors of power are often never reported in the media. Simon Fraser University, Latin written on parchment, the medium of the Christian Church, communiaction attacked through the secular medium of vernaculars written on paper. These interrelationships included the partnership between the knowledge and ideas necessary to create and maintain the empire, and the power or force required to expand and defend it.

Empires that sprang up tended to be biased towards space control over a large area or ckmmunication continuing control for a long timedepending on the dominant medium in use by the empire.

Cecilia Dunbar Hernandez rated it communnication was amazing Oct 29, Phil Nichols rated it really liked it Dec 25, Technology and the Canadian Mind: In writing, the tendency is to isolate an aspect of some matter imnis to direct steady attention upon that aspect.

The largely illiterate laity depended on priests to interpret the scriptures and on communicatioj media such as paintings and statues that depicted the central figures in Biblical stories. Those media that supported theocratic empires had relative durability as a major characteristic so that they could support the concepts of eternal life and endless dynasties.

Innis focuses on the innis which the specific form of o media has and how it effects time, space, knowledge, and or I was turned on to “The Bias of Communication” after seeing it referenced multiple times by high-caliber innovators on my Twitter feed. Technology and the Canadian Mind: Arthur Kroker suggests that Innis “sought to explore the interstices of the technological habitat.

University of Toronto Press, p. Sheikh Tajamul rated it really liked it Jun 08, Beginning with an extended discussion of the unique characteristics of the beaver, he then elaborates upon the importance of indigenous people’s harvesting and processing techniques, the fur traders’ business methods, and the critical river transportation routes that fostered a distinctive pattern of development in Canada over three centuries.

Power was increased by concentration in a few hands, specialization of function was enforced, and scribes with leisure to keep and study records contributed to the advancement of knowledge and thought. This interplay of aspects can generate insights or discovery” vii.


Harold Innis’ bias of communications – a starting point, not a foundation

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Want to Read Currently Reading Read. The Laurentian paradigm dominated Canadian history and social science from the s to the early s.

They have little regard for tradition and when compared with oral societies, their ways of thinking are apt to be more rational, linear and impersonal.

Since, in their purest form, time-bound cultures do not rely on written records, they must preserve their traditions in story, song and myth handed down unchanged from one generation to the next. Email Address fo made public. It will develop a concern or a bias toward time. Innis’s The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory.

Marshall McLuhan, deeply influenced by these essays, led North America to a new awareness of the role of media in contemporary culture.

Why do you think he says that? Their monopoly of knowledge depended on their control over the production of the time-binding medium of parchment useful for preserving hand-copied manuscripts written in Latin. It is really the “monopolies of knowledge” which are at stake in the longevity of empires. Monopolies of knowledge derive their power from several sources: The shift of perceptions redefines “knowledge,” what those in power claim needs to be known.

The written record, signed, sealed and swiftly transmitted was essential to military power and the extension of government. Innis suggests that the media adopted by a particular civilization will shape the “character of knowledge” transmitted by that culture, not only in the original sending, but also in our eventual reception.

He proposed that new media are “pulled” into existence by organized interests after inventors have already developed the technology, or prototypes of the technology, necessary to support the media. New World Perspectives, p.