January 22, 2019


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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Innis argued that this priestly or scribal monopoly disturbed the necessary balance between the religious bias toward time and continuity, and the political bias toward space and power.

Harold Innis’s communications theories

Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter communiction comment here Media that emphasize space are apt to be less durable and light in character such as papyrus and paper. Conflicts over hunting territories led to warfare, made more deadly by European bullets. As a result, Canada found itself in a dependent, and vulnerable relationship to the major manufacturing nations, first Britain, then the U.

Mihajlo Krivokuca rated it it was amazing Sep 18, hraold His war experience, during which he saw Canadian soldiers used as cannon-fodder by the British, marked him for life: While time-biased media favour stability, community, tradition and religion, space-biased media facilitate rapid change, materialism, secularism and empire.

It will develop a concern or a bias toward time. Be the first to ask a question about The Bias of Communication. In the beginning, which for Innis means Mesopotamia, there was clay, the reed stylus used to write inhis it, and the wedge-shaped cuneiform script.

Dispatches from the Information Revolution.

The Bias of Communication by Harold A. Innis

For example, he claims that the Egyptian civilization “appears to have been powerfully influenced by the character of the Nile. Innis elaborated on his distinctions between time-biased and space-biased media in Empire and Communications:. Mastery of Complexity creates a hierarchy of professionals and amateurs. McLuhan appreciated the way Innis used the technological events of history to test the accuracy of both that history and the lessons we have learned from it.

New World Perspectives, For Innis, the organization of empires seems to follow two major models. In his writings, Innis is forthright in his own bias that the oral tradition is inherently more flexible and humanistic than the written tradition, which he found rigid and impersonal in contrast.


What forms of power do they encourage? Influenced by Innis’s communications theories, historian Marshall Poe proposed a theory on the genesis of new media. Heyer writes that Empire and Communications received few reviews and they ranged from “lukewarm to negative”. The poststructuralist impulse, insofar as it commmunication any unity, was, as I understand it, all about denying the possibility of coherence and stable meaning in….

Utilization of its periodic floods depended on the unified control of an absolute authority. The organized church teh immediately to mind, as does insider trading. He claims that each medium embodies a bias in terms of the organization and control of information. New allegiances are formed.

Innis traces the histories of parchment, paper and printing in his book’s final chapters, pp. Success of the monarchy in acquiring control over Egypt in terms of space necessitated a concern with problems of continuity over time” A lifelong student of political economy, Harold Innis became an internationally prominent social scientist and chief architect of the staples interpretation of Canadian history.

Innis examined each empire to discover how time-binding and space-binding media contributed to the necessary balance between power and knowledge and among ruling groups — religious, political and military. He establishes a dialectic between media with a time-bias and those with a space-bias: A must read for those questioning the meaning of society.

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. By continuing to use this website, you agree to their use. What Innis experienced during the war contradicted popular beliefs at home that the Canadian identity was a pale reflection of British imperialism and deepened his nationalist outlook.

Innis focuses on the effects which the specific form of the 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.

Knowledge passed down orally depends on a lineage of transmission, often associated with ancestors, and ratified by human contact. Innis wrote that the Catholic Church fought to preserve its time-oriented monopoly of knowledge with the Inquisitionbut eventually paper achieved even greater power with the invention of the printing press around the middle of the 15th century.


Innis believed that the overwhelming spatial bias of modern media was heightened in the United States by the development of powerful military technologies, including atomic weapons.

In an essay for this new edition, Innis biographer Alexander John Watson examines the reasons why Innis, at the height of his success as an economic historian, embarked on new research areas of communications and empire, as well as the ways in which Marshall McLuhan’s interpretations of Innis changed and de-politicized Innis’s work.

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

The Dark Vision of Harold Innis. Inthe rapid adoption jarold music-sharing software like Napster provoked an immediate reaction from both the recording industry and the law-makers.

The scientific community lobbies not only for a pre-eminent status for the objectivity of knowledge, but also advocates a rigid method for obtaining that knowledge. Innis makes it quite clear that the character of this writing is what made it amenable to the creation of a monopoly over knowledge Empirep28 Writing was a difficult and specialized art requiring long apprenticeship, and reading implied a long period of instruction….

I was turned on to “The Bias of Communication” after seeing it referenced multiple times by high-caliber innovators on my Twitter feed. For Innis, a survival strategy requires that we take “persistent action at strategic points against American imperialism in all its attractive disguises The torch of empire then passed from Greece to Rome.

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. Materials that emphasize time favour decentralization and hierarchical types of biad, while those that emphasize space favour centralization and systems of government less hierarchical in character.