Outputs

The Marconi Galaxy will soon be a book, published by the University of Toronto Press:

MARCONI GALAXY

Probing the World the Wireless Made and Makes

Edited by

Gabriele Falciasecca, Lamberti Elena, Barbara Valotti

Volume outline and table of contents

The here proposed volume consists of a collection of essays on Guglielmo Marconi, the history of radio in Italy and in Canada, wireless communication and wireless imagination written by well-renown Italian and Canadian scholars. The volume is not limited to the investigation of the Italian ‘inventor’ tout court, but it includes Canada and the Canadian scene, with a special emphasis on the role played by radio and wireless communication in the making of the two nations. It is addressed not only to the academic community, but also to a broader audience as it aims to popularise some complex issues related to the world of ICTs; hence, the ‘Marconi Galaxy’ is presented here as a mosaic of cultural, technological and scientific issues which underpin our own world, shape our habits, mould our societal matrixes and create our new mythologies.

As previously suggested, the publication of this book is meant to coincide with a very important anniversary and with some related international events (100th anniversary of the Nobel Prize awarded to Guglielmo Marconi for the invention of the radio; international celebrations and workshops). Set against such an international setting, this volume offers the opportunity to investigate trans-nationally the role new technologies have been playing in establishing new societal matrixes. Technological ‘evolutions’ also bring unintended or unexpected side effects to both people and their environment; it is precisely this concept and its effects that our volume investigates.

In spite of the barrage of technological developments, the critical reflection and analysis of ways in which technical change is mutually reinforced/influenced by socio-cultural and scientific aspects is less clear. Schematic views still prevail, opposing society to technology as if the two acted in total isolation from each other. The language of new technological performances, as well as the dense language of exhibitions and museums, which have acquired a growing relevance in the late decades, are probably among the most fitting/effective in communicating/articulating a more realistic, and innovative, representation of the historical and social processes of technical change to a wider public without giving up any of the prerequisites of scientific soundness; it is for all these reasons that the collaboration between Canadian and Italian academic scholars which stands at the basis of this editorial proposal can trigger not only new understandings of new societal phenomena, but also facilitate their popularisation. This volume is the first attempt in such a fundamental direction.

Table of Contents

Foreword

Martin Stiglio, Director, Italian Cultural Institute in Toronto

Foreword

Gabriele Falciasecca, President, Guglielmo Marconi Foundation

Introduction

Elena Lamberti

The Origins of Radio Communications: Guglielmo Marconi Inventor and Entrepreneur

Barbara Valotti

On the Marconi Trail: Sites, Places and Performing Memory

Kim Sawchuk

Fogo Island: Photo Essay

Michael Longford

Some Thoughts About Canada While Waiting for the Letter ‘S’

Seth Feldman

The Story of Wireless: Between History and Tales of Imagination

Sanja Obradovic

Marconi Galaxy: from the Radio to the Global Village

Elena Lamberti
Performances of Presence: Probing the Aesthetics of Wireless
Paolo Granata

The Marconi Galaxy: a few Steps into the Infosphere

Gabriele Falciasecca

Retooling for the 21st Century: Digital Citizenship

Barbara Crow

The Thickness of Media: Resistance and Adaptation in the Adoption of New Communication Tools.

Peppino Ortoleva

Imagining the ‘Marcloni’:  International Education in the Marconi Galaxy

Maria Cioni

Contributors

Dr Barbara Valotti is curator of the Marconi Museum and coordinates the museum activities of the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation, Italy, since 1998. In 1995 she graduated at the University of Bologna with a thesis in the history of science on Guglielmo Marconi’s background and early . She has collaborated in many publications, exhibitions (in Italy and abroad) and multimedia products devoted to Marconi and the history of radio communication. Her role enables her to consolidate the collaboration with the international museums networks, vocational agencies and to consolidate the establishment of international programs of internships for students.

Dr Kim Sawchuk is a Professor in the Department of Communication Studies, Concordia University and the current editor of the Canadian Journal of Communication. She is a co-editor of wi: journal of mobile media with Barbara Crow, Michael Longford and Andrea Zeffiro. Dr. Sawchuk is the author of numerous articles and edited collections on feminism, art and technology. Her most recent writings on wireless communications explore different facets of user-experiences. Recent publications include “Radio Hats, Wireless Rats and Flying Families,” “Voices from Beyond: Ephemeral Histories and Locative Media” (with Crow, Longford and Zeffiro), “Leave it to beavers: animals, icons and telecommunications in Canada” (with BA Crow) and “The Spectral Politics of Mobile Technologies: Gender, Infrastructure and International Policy” (with BA Crow). She is working on two book projects: Biotourism: anatomical imaging in public culture and the Wireless Imaginary, both under contract with Wilfrid Laurier Press.

A senior scholar in cinema and media studies, Dr Seth Feldman is also known for his work as a broadcaster and administrator. His numerous publications have included some of the first collections of work on Canadian cinema, two books on the Soviet documentary filmmaker Dziga Vertov, and, most recently, a monograph of the Canadian director, Allan King.  Professor Feldman is also the writer and presenter of twenty-five radio documentaries for the CBC program, IDEAS for which he has been holds both a George Armstrong International Radio Award and a New York Festivals Gold Medal. A founder and President of the Film Studies Association of Canada, he has served as Dean of Fine Arts at York University and as Chair of the Canadian Association of Fine Arts. His current research focuses on the changing nature of documentary film with particular reference to the place of documentary in the Canadian experience.  He is also Principal Investigator on an SSHRC Standard Research Grant on the Canadian Films of Expo ’67 as well as Principal Investigator on an SSHRC Research/Creation grant on the visual presence of concentration camps in German and Austrian towns sharing their names.

Professor Feldman holds the honorific title of University Professor, one of 20 such positions at York University “awarded to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the University by teaching and/or service.”  He is currently the Director of York’s Robarts Centre for Canadian Studies.

Sanja Obradovic is doctoral student in the Joint Programme in Communication and Culture at York and Ryerson Universities in Toronto. Her research interests focus on the study of intermediality, histories of media and technologies, and digital cultures.

She is presently affiliated with the Mobile Media Lab in Toronto, under the supervision of Prof Barbara Crow. Ms Obradovic has previously worked and taught at the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema, Concordia University, Montreal.

Dr Elena Lamberti teaches American and Canadian Literature and Culture at the University of Bologna, Italy. Her areas of research include: Anglo-American Modernism, Literature and Technology, Cultural Memory, War Literature, Media Studies. She has published several essays on English and Anglo-American Modernism (Ford, Joyce, Pound, Hemingway), as well as Anglo-Canadian culture of the late 20th Century (Coupland, Cronenberg, McLuhan). She is the author of the award winning volume Marshall McLuhan: Tra letteratura, arti e media (Bruno Mondadori, 2000); editor of the volume Interpreting/Translating European Modernis: A Comparative Approach (Compositori, 2001); co-editor of Il senso critico: Saggi di Ford Madox Ford (with V. Fortunati, Alinea 2001), Ford Madox Ford and The Republic of Letters (with V. Fortunati, CLUEB 2002); co-editor of Biocomplexity at the Cutting Edge of Physics, System Biology and Humanities (Bononia University Press, 2008), co-editor of Memories And Representations of War in Europe: The Case of WW1 and WW2 (Rodopi, 2009). She is currently completing a volume on Marshall McLuhan’s Critical Writing. Probing the Literary Origins  of Media Studies.

Dr Lamberti has served  on several boards for European Research Projects and on European and North American Editorial Boards.

Dr Paolo Granata is professor of Digital Catalogues for Cultural Heritage at the Post-Graduate Specialisation School for Art and Historic Heritage at the University of Bologna, where he also acts as academic coordinator. Since 2008 he has also taught Multimedia for Cultural Heritage at the Academy of Fine Arts in Bologna. In 2001 he authored the book Arte in Rete, the first rational guide on the art resources on the web ever published in Italy. In 2003 he founded the MultiLab educational laboratories on Humanistic Computing for the University of Bologna (Faculty of Humanities). Since 2005 he has worked for the research programme on Italian video art Videoart Yearbook. L’annuario della videoarte italiana, promoted by the Department of Visual Arts of the University of Bologna. His latest book, Arte, estetica e nuovi media, (2009), is a summary of his work for an interdisciplinary approach to new media developed over the years.

Prof Gabriele Falciasecca is Full Professor of Microwaves and Radio-Propagation at the University of Bologna. His main fields of research are mobile radio systems, microwaves, optical systems, millimetre waves, radio propagation, radio navigation and landing aids. He is the author of more than 150 technical papers. He has been the chairman of the Guglielmo Marconi Foundation since 1997 and in this role he has also been engaged in several projects for exhibitions and for scientific culture diffusion. He is also a member of the Advisory Board of the Ugo Bordoni Foundation and the chairman of the Scientific Committee of the Consortium “Elettra2000”, devoted to the study and to the diffusion of scientific results in the field of health issues related to electromagnetic waves. He is the president of Lepida S.p.A., the operating tool promoted by the Emilia-Romagna Region for the planning, development and management of the Partners’ Telecommunication infrastructures and for the development and supply of ICT services.

Dr Barbara Crow is the Associate Dean of Research in the Faculty of Liberal Arts and Professional Studies at York University.  She was a project lead for the Mobile Digital Commons Network (MDCN), exploring relations of mobile technologies and cultural production, and Digital Cities, focusing on the relationship between digital-technology and multi-media cities. She is one of the founding and co-editors of wi: journal of mobile digital commons network and wi: journal of mobile media, a digital journal focusing on mobile technologies and culture. Her research projects include: the Marconi Galaxy; CWIRP exploring WiFi as public infrastructure; and Canadian-Sexual Assault Law and Contested Boundaries of Consent: Legal and  Extra-Legal Dimensions (with Lise Gotell), investigating women’s  organizations and legal discourses. She was president of the Canadian-Women’s Studies Association, 2002-2004.

Giuseppe Ortoleva, more widely known by the name Peppino with which he signs his books, essays and other works, has been active for more than thirty years as a scholar, critic, creator, at the crossroads of history and media studies. He is currently full professor of Storia dei mezzi di comunicazione at the Università di Torino; previously he has taught in the Università di Siena. He has also been visiting professor and developed research projects in Sydney, Paris, Lisbon, at the Interaction Design Institute in Ivrea. He is correspondant étranger for Le temps des médias and member of the board of OBS, the multilingual on line journal on communication. He is member of the supervising boards of various cultural institutions.

His most recent book, Il secolo dei media. Riti abitudini mitologie was published in January 2009. Mediastoria. Comunicazione e mutamento sociale nel mondo contemporaneo has been published originally in 1995 and has been reprinted twice. He has also published books on the youth movements of the Sixties, on private television in Italy and its cultural and political role, on cinema and history. His La société des mèdias has been published by Giunti in Italy and by Castermann in France and Belgium.  He has been the editor, with Barbara Scaramucci, of Enciclopedia della radio, Milan, 2002. He has recently published, with Maria Teresa Di Marco, Luci del teleschermo. Televisione e cultura in Italia, Milan, 2004; with Francesca Chiocci, Giovanni Cordoni, Gianni Sibilla, La grana dell’audio. La dimensione sonora della televisione, Rome, 2003; with Giovanni Cordoni and Nicoletta Verna, Le onde del futuro. Presente e tendenze della radio in Italia, Milan, 2006; with Giovanni Cordoni Trent’anni di libertà d’antenna, Bologna, 2006. Moreover, he has published more than one hundred essays on media, culture and the XXth Century social changes.

Ortoleva’s knowledge of the media is not only based on research. In 1985, he started Cliomedia (now called Mediasfera) in Turin, the first consulting and producing enterprise in Italy completely dedicated to history, social sciences and media.

Dr Maria Cioni is a specialist in international education establishing new offices in the Ontario government, the University of Toronto and York University, facilitating partnerships and exchanges with key universities worldwide, developing courses and training professionals. She has received the Canadian Bureau for International Education Award for Internationalization Service (2002) and the Hohenstaufen Medal from the government of Baden-Württemberg, Germany (2001).

As well, Dr. Cioni has extensive experience piloting/assessing new communications-information technology at TVOntario and in the Indonesia-Canada University Computer Conference Project, mimicking the internet prior to its release.  She is a published author in history, communications and literary non-fiction.  Her latest work is Spaghetti Western:  How My Father Brought Italian Food to the West, Fifth House Publishers, Calgary: 2006

Abstracts

Barbara Valotti, The Origins of Radio Communications: Guglielmo Marconi Inventor and Entrepreneur

This essay offers an introduction to the figure and work of Guglielmo Marconi, who was the pioneer of wireless communications between 1895 and 1901, acting as an extraordinary innovator throughout his 40-year career. New and original documents are employed in order to understand and go beyond a ‘mythological’ presentation of the so-called “wizard of the wireless”. New sources now available will be analysed in order to clarify the roots of Marconi’s creativity, often described in the literature as characterised by chance and sudden flashes of inspiration. Detailed information on his background, family context and network are crucial to understand how he conceived wireless telegraphy and how he pursued a strategy that combined science, technology and business. After his first experiments in Italy, Marconi moved to England starting an extraordinary career in which the first transatlantic experiment (with radiotelegraphic signals sent from Poldhu, Cornwall, to Signal Hill, Newfoundland, December 1901) and the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics (1909) were crucial moments. He then continued to be a protagonist of many developments in the field of radio-communications and was also involved in the political system of his home-country, Italy. Entrepreneurship and vision were certainly combined in his complex personality that this essay aims at exploring, through historical analysis and beyond myth-making.

Kim Sawchuk, On the Marconi Trail: Sites, Places and Performing Memory

In Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton region there is a driving route called “The Marconi Trail”  that runs along the eastern coast of Nova Scotia, from Glace Bay to Louisbourg. It is the shortest and least well-known of the 5 designated ‘scenic’ tourist routes that follow the coastline of Nova Scotia. In a land where the government is working hard to find strategies to generate income and employment (to compensate for the decline of coal mining and the seasonal instability of fishing) such tourist routes are important sources of revenue between mid-May until mid-October. Three separate tourist brochures readily available at any truck stop, motel or restaurant in the region will tell you about the museums to be visited. The brochures contain a small amount of information explaining Marconi’s connection to Cape Breton; the related small museum forms a small but little known part of the Marconi Galaxy.

The purpose of this paper is two-fold: to discuss first of all the significance of this museum by engaging in an examination of its rhetoric of display, a rhetoric that tells the story in audio-visual terms of Marconi’s connection to the region. The second goal of this paper is to discuss the lively role that this site continues to play within the area for a small group of wireless radio operators in the region who see themselves as the grateful heirs to the Marconi legacy of wireless transmission and the stewards of a dying language: the Morse code.

Michael Longford, Fogo Island: Photo Essay

Fogo Island is home to a number of small fishing communities established in the 18th century off the coast of North Eastern Newfoundland. Despite their size the communities of Fogo Island have significant links Canadian media and communications history. The Marconi Company of Canada built a wireless relay station near the town of Fogo in 1912, which provided communication links to sealing and fishing vessels working off the Grand Banks until 1933. This remote Marconi station received distress signals in 1931 from the S.S. Viking after an explosion killed 27 men including American filmmaker, Varick Frissell. Frisell had joined the voyage to film “authentic” images of the Newfoundland seal hunt for one of the first Hollywood-style sound movies made in Canada.

In contrast, filmmaker Colin Low from the National Film Board of Canada went to the region in the late 60s to document a controversial decision by the government to relocate the Fogo Island communities as the inshore fishery began to decline. Through filmmaking the islanders were invited to record their concerns and encourage dialogue amongst the communities by participating in a process of self-representation. In all, 27 films were made which in turn were shown to policy makers and government officials providing a voice and a vision of the collective needs and everyday realities faced by the islanders. This early experiment in participatory filmmaking became known as the “Fogo Process” and is a recognized and significant contribution to the documentary tradition in Canada and internationally.

Seth Feldman, Some Thoughts About Canada While Waiting for the Letter ‘S’

Much of the work of Canadian history has to do with looking at accidents of geography and wondering if there is indeed something informative or, at least, less than inevitable about their influence.  Radio is one of those instances in which the need to travel huge distances not only enabled commerce or political unity but also bridged the ideas of the physical and the cultural. This paper begins with Marconi’s geographically determined choice of St. John’s as the Western receiving station for his trans-Atlantic signal and then develops the idea Marconi’s Canadian radio enterprises and pre-1945 radio as a whole in the formation of national and regional identities. It attempts to consolidate these events around the idea of a modernist frontier, i.e. the direct juxtaposition of the tools of twentieth century technology (and modernism’s belief in the inevitability to these tools leading to social as well as technological progress) with the intractability of Canadian geography.

Sanja Obradovic, The Story of Wireless: Between History and Tales of Imagination

This essay focuses on the interplay between actual and imagined cultural histories of wireless media technologies which are located in scholarly and public discourses of modernity. Within it, the proliferation of radio technologies is briefly traced since its inception, over a century ago, to the present day. This development is considered in parallel to the cultural historical narratives that followed (and at times preceded the creation and development of these technologies) in the West, in which some actual and some imagined attributes have been assigned to radio technologies.

In addition, within the period of the last couple of decades, development and proliferation of the ‘new media’ is examined in the context of imaginations, hopes and fears of wireless technologies, particularly in relation to human body and health. In concentrating on these significant historical periods for the development of radio and wireless technologies, I trace a number of parallelisms in cultural imaginations that emerged when new/novel media and technologies begin to proliferate. In line with Kluitenberg’s (2006) work, I treat imagined possibilities as possessing capacity to inspire actual changes and developments of media technologies. Moreover, in tracing archaeology of radio technologies, at the pivotal points in history, this essay aims to afford a closer understanding of important socio-cultural desires negotiated within the Western society in the past century.

Elena Lamberti, Marconi Galaxy: from the Radio to the Global Village

Marshall McLuhan, the media guru, uses the name of Guglielmo Marconi as the icon of the complex new technological and social changes of the twentieth century. In one of his most famous works, The Gutenberg Galaxy, the Canadian critic used Marconi’s name to connote the new “electric” or “electronic era”, the age in which electric media not only opened new scientific and technological frontiers but, above all, new cultural horizons and new models for life, including new conceptual categories in philosophy and the arts. For him, Marconi was emblematic of the new “age” just as Gutenberg and the image of Gutenberg’s printing press symbolized previous centuries of “mechanical fragmentations”.

In this sense, Marconi is the one who initiated and gave tangible form to the new contemporary environment that would lead to the definition of the electric age, including imagining its immense technological and structural potentialities. His work made possible a ‘mega’ environment delineated by media boundaries in which technology, characterized as communications, always more ‘mass’, was ‘attracting people’ in an organized ‘system’. And once there is a system, it then becomes important to be able to ‘control’, ‘manage’, ‘guide’ and ‘implement’ it; and, in the long term, condition human consciousness, for better or for worse.

In this essay I explore  what makes Marconi ‘an environment’, as well as what characterizes the making of the ‘electric/electronic era’ or Marconi Galaxy. Marconi’s technological innovations operated as ‘a beginning’ and that beginning, to be precise, was the radio, communication ‘without wires’.  The radio rapidly reconfigured the way in which human beings perceived time and space and triggered a new concept of ‘distance’; a change so dramatic that it necessitated various disciplines, from physics to the new social sciences to philosophy, to re-think harmonizing ‘distance’. The radio also had a strong impact on the imagination and the arts and letters as demand for content transcended the technology itself. Envisioned holistically – in their social and cultural entirety, in their dynamic and with the theoretic speculations they initiated – it is obvious that radio communications had an impact far beyond the technology itself, leading to break through developments of other new communication and information technologies in the early twentieth century.  This then, was the moment in which Marconi’s ‘explorations’ bore the first concrete fruits and planted even greater potentialities to come, starting the process which led to the making of the global village.

Paolo Granata, Performances of Presence: probing the Aesthetics of Wireless

There are several good reasons to talk about wireless today. This essay’s aim is to combine such reasons, pertaining to different disciplines, and connect them to each other and within a general, underlying assumption. This assumption is related to the concept of presence: the current technological and cultural circumstances, along with the recent developments in the media world, have altered the chronological and topological coordinates underlying the concept of presence. Understanding such alterations means detecting the emergence in the contemporary technological environment of a new sense of presence. The postmodern time of  instantaneousness that has marked the evolution of the mass media and the development of the so-called society of communication has now taken an even more charged character. In fact, the perception of time that best fits the current social scenario is to be connected no more, or not only, with the experience of instantaneousness, but rather with a new existential condition that is entirely focussed and developed on the present. In other words, a condition of expanded present within which the daily experience gets more intense, with an expansion of the coordinates of time and space induced by the implicit potential of the new media acting as replacements of or substitutes for presence. This condition of expanded present is the cause and at the same time the effect of the continuous performances of presence that concur to define experience’s new sensorial and cognitive boundaries. A few years ago, a large-scale advertising campaign promoted by a major European mobile carrier gave a quite adequate impression of this double existential hegemony of presence/present with a claim that imperiously stated: “Life is Now!”, practically a hic et nunc revisited in contemporary terms. In this context, looking into the expanded present condition and surveying such performances of presence also offers a good opportunity to clarify some results of the reflection developed in the latter half of the twentieth century on the complexity of the connections between technology and culture which also form the background of the wide and varied realm of art experimentation. This is why the presence/present combination represents a useful departure point to approach the varied Marconi Galaxy that for over a century now has worked the technological miracle of erasing time and space distances across the airwaves. This is why there are still some very good reasons today to talk about wireless.

Gabriele Falciasecca, The Marconi Galaxy: a few Steps into the Infosphere

There are inventions, that even though important, exist in a narrowly defined field that limits their influence; while, there are others which put in motion a much broader process whose value can be estimated only over time. The invention of the radio, whose existence is due, above all, to Guglielmo Marconi, belongs in this second category; it developed into what has been later defined as the “Marconi Galaxy”, succeeding the already known “Gutenberg Galaxy”. From the scientific-technical point, the Marconi Galaxy is a process of uninterrupted technological innovation which led us from the primordial devices to the thermo-ionic valves , to transistors and the integrated circuits of microelectronics and to a corresponding introduction of new services and applications that have transformed our way of working with information.

The ‘machines’ which we therefore invented – that is the artificial modalities of participation which we have introduced – have followed an interesting trend that corresponds to the technological innovation that, since the radio first appeared, has constructed its own artificial environment, in parallel to the biological, or human one. I have defined this artificial environment as the infosphere, in contrast to the biosphere in which humans live.

The purpose of this essay is to describe how the infosphere materialized and to present the analogies and the differences between it and the biosphere. The strong element common to the two environments is the fact that only living beings and the machines that they design can act upon information. For living beings, this peculiarity is fundamental to their own  survival and therefore to keep track of it means to keep track of the process of natural evolution. For the machine, the process is part casual and part guided, depending on the interplay of biosphere and infosphere; therefore, chance intertwines with planning.

Since there are three operations that can be carried out on the information – acquisition, elaboration and communication – the classification of the artificial world will continue to develop itself in quantity and quality according to these three elements. So, we are able to arrive as well, at a three-dimensional representation of the infosphere that allows us to visualize the evolution of this particular environment and to facilitate unwinding the various considerations. The latter, as one can understand, are varied and heterogeneous, operating in parallel to biology, and having to do with the reasons for a greater or a smaller success of a particular innovation.  As well, they depend upon the necessity of rules for the market or upon the eventual acceptance of a concept of value inherent in the economic aspect. It will not be possible therefore, to discuss them all adequately here.  Rather, the principal focus will be as already indicated; that is, to underline the points and the instances in which Marconi’s actions, or the direct consequences of his work have determined the direction of the evolution of the infosphere.

Barbara Crow, Retooling for the 21st Century:  Digital Citizenship

New media and various digital technologies have created new expressions and networks bringing together individuals, organizations and institutions in ways neither imagined nor experienced before. In this paper, I explore some of the ways new media and digital technologies have retooled and forced us to reconsider what it means to be a citizen and citizenship.  Consideration will be given to how the corporate and regulatory contexts of new media, social movement  practices, and artistic interventions have engaged the particular issues of surveillance, privacy, and community.

Peppino Ortoleva, The Thickness of Media: Resistance and Adaptation in the Adoption of New Communication Tools

The way in which we use communication media, from the pen to the Internet, has always been conditioned by their limits and by their resistance to the hands, the senses, the minds of their users at least as much as by the possibilities they offer. This goes against the grain of the information society, against the rhetoric of marketing, that has generally concentrated, and all the more so in the age of “intelligent machines” on the marvels of the new technologies and on the effortlessness of their uses. But this helps us understand the dynamics of learning, from the fundamental ability of reading/writing to the ultramodern use of the T9 alphabet for cellular phones.

To say that the “thickness” of media is even more relevant for their social presence than the messages they convey is in a way a new expression of McLuhan’s so widely misunderstood slogan “the medium is the message”, but it is also the basis for a new thinking about their materiality in a supposedly, only supposedly, “immaterial” age.

Maria Cioni, Imagining the ‘Marcloni’:  International Education in the Marconi Galaxy

Canadian poet Margaret Avison wrote, “Nobody stuffs the world in at your eyes.  The optic heart must venture:  a jail-break and re-creation.” Nobody stuffs knowledge in your head either, the brain must ‘venture’ to capture, process and then act upon what is useful. This is a process of education and ‘venturing out’ to exchange, experience and find answers, ideas and values that relate to people in their cultural, this is international education. The students who are currently in university are part of the so-called ‘Net Generation’ and ‘digital natives’ because they thrive on social networking and use the latest technologies that put the “Marconi Galaxy” at their fingertips and in their orb.  This group, with characteristics and interests similar to those of Marconi, are imagined as “probes” (Marcloni) sent to explore the frontier of international education:  To examine what aspects of international education are effective in individualizing experience, what effects understanding other cultures has on the Marconi Galaxy and what role might this generation might play in this process? Imagining the Net Generation contributing to and ‘mashing up’ international education as a “counter environment” to the Marconi Galaxy and its infosphere may shed light on whether or not they have the heart to venture, to break out and re-create another environment or at least, modify the Marconi Galaxy.