Tag Archive for research

It’s Been A While~

I’ve missed everyone! I’ve missed writing and sharing my thoughts and what I’m up to. And a LOT has been happening! Here’s the brief overview:


I’m in the process of finishing my dissertation. I’m getting my PhD in Media Psychology from Fielding Graduate University. My dissertation is related to gaming and identity, but I’m leaving it at that.. for now. 😉

My Home Office


If you’ve been following along at home, you know I have my own business, Oomph! Media Garage. I do social media management, site creation and editing, transmedia branding, and more, for small businesses. I love my clients! They’re amazing, and they let me be creative while still matching their passions.

I’ve also been writing a chapter for an Oxford handbook, along with one of my mentors. AND I’ve recently been asked to be a reviewer for an academic journal. SO COOL! I’m also gearing up to do research for a company that helps parents match digital games to their academic needs. I am a HUGE fan of this site, and it’s an honor to be able to help out.

I’m excited to start offering APA editing services, as well! I love formatting, but I know it’s not everyone’s favorite thing to do. So why not help out, and earn some money in the process?? 😀

Finally, I’ve been working on the planning committee, the student committee, and the ethics committee of APA Division 46. It’s SO much fun. The president, Dr. Jerri Lynn Hogg, is the most amazing person I’ve probably ever met in my life and I can’t wait to be JUST like her.

Nadia McConnell


Monkey is moving to a new school next year, so we’re enjoying the Summer sun as much as we can before the big shift. We’ve been riding bikes, playing Ingress (GO RESISTANCE!), and hanging out with our friends. While I’m working, she’s always being creative on Hypixel, getting her clever on in Town of Salem, or terrorizing the horde on WoW.

A lot of my Spring was spent playing Nadia in UAA TotR’s production of  Bare: A Pop Opera. It was an amazing experience, and I have never felt more proud to be in a production. In the space of 3 days, we changed a LOT of lives, including our own.

I play games too, of course (mostly League of Legends and Heroes of the Storm), watching Twitch, listening to my amazing record collection (thank you Obsession Records), and keeping up with my animes!

 So now you’re all caught up! What has everyone been up to? How is your Summer going? What are your favorite projects and time zappers? Share in the comments below!

Welcome to Gotham

This is the syllabus for the first course I’ve ever created. I am VERY proud of this, though I recognize it isn’t perfect. I hope to teach this class soon. It was mocked up as a UAA class, and used a Fielding syllabus design with altered colors for the format, but is not currently being offered (obviously). Anyway… enjoy!

Welcome to Gotham (annotated syllabus)

The Tetrad of Power

As discussed last week, Marshall McLuhan was a very insightful man. His theories on media (though they were renewed from someone whose theories had heavily influenced him, Teilhard de Chardin), have been- and continue to be- very influential on media enthusiasts and scholars. That being said, a call for a “scientific basis” (“McLuhan’s Laws of Media,” n.d.) was consistent. This post will briefly explain the tetrad and give an (attempted) example of its use.

TetradThe tetrad is McLuhan’s response to the call for his theory to be formalized (“McLuhan’s Laws of Media,” n.d.). Though the theory itself is not empirically derived, the results of analyses using the tetrad are (“Media : McLuhan/LawsOfMedia,” 2008). The tetrad describes the way media-which had been created by people- affects people and, in turn, communities of all sizes. It relates ways in which the media changes behaviors, reverses behaviors, renews behaviors, and eliminates behaviors.

A fun exercise (I think it’s fun…) is to attempt a tetrad of your favorite media. By media, of course, I don’t mean necessarily electronic. I mean a tool that is used to enhance our ability to communicate (much like McLuhan’s definition of technology). So a pencil, a phone, a typewriter, etc. In this case, I’m going to consider the eReader (I personally use a Nook, but there is a hack that allows the Kindle app on the Nook, so I read both on one eReader).

Enhances: An eReader accelerates and improves our access to books. It also enhances our ability to publish by allowing online, do-it-yourself publishing.

Reverses: An eReader, meant to make reading more convenient (e.g., libraries on a single device, no holding pages open, etc.), has made it so easy that you can access your content from a variety of devices. However, the ability to do so means choosing which device you want to material on, synchronizing bookmarks and highlights, and so on. In the end, having one book to keep track of is easier.

Kindle-e-reader-006Retrieves: eReaders bring us back to reading books. Where we had moved on to digital entertainment and audio books, eReaders allow people access to a variety of classic, new, self-published literature which motivates them to re-discover reading. The effect is reminiscent of the introduction of the Gutenberg press.

Obsolesces: The eReader makes the use of paper printing unnecessary. Not that its use has been done away with, but with the eReader, paper itself is no longer needed for printed literature.

The tetrad impacts media psychologists by giving us something to gauge existing media changes with, as well as a way to make educated guesses about emerging media. By understanding the uses for, and implications of, media and technologies, we can look to the past to see the future with regards to effects, developments, uses, and more. The more we contemplate how the media and technologies around us affect us, the more we understand about ourselves.


McLuhan’s Laws of Media. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.horton.ednet.ns.ca/staff/scottbennett/media/index.html
Media : McLuhan/LawsOfMedia. (2008). Retrieved from http://deoxy.org/media/McLuhan/LawsOfMedia

McLuhan: Prophet or Fortune-Teller

karsh-portraitLargely regarded as the father of media, Marshall McLuhan is known for his theories on media’s effects on society as well as individuals. Though he is still highly regarded, there are those who don’t understand and those who don’t buy into his seeming prophetic interpretations of how media has and will influence us. This paper summarizes briefly some of Marshall McLuhan’s theories using examples from modern technology, and takes into consideration oppositional perspectives.


McLuhan (2014) articulates a difference between nationalization (i.e., separation; segregation) and tribalization (i.e., group think) as triggered by the prevalent media of the time. Before print, as Burke (2013) points out, we were dependent on travelers for news in the form of songs and poetry. Everyone knew everything about everyone, elders were sources of information, and well known events were time markers. The “tribes” worked together to survive whether it was legal matters, history, or current events. With print, McLuhan determined that people became more independent when the need arose for privacy to read books. They were able to withdraw from the group and learn information pertinent to their own survival. Capitalism facilitated greed and competition. However, with electronic communication, people are once again depending on others for information and sharing what information they have. Collective intelligence exemplifies the new tribalization. Shirky (2010) discusses civic value in contributions online; another example of McLuhan’s tribalization in action.

mcluhan_quoteNaysayers may contend that due to the proliferation of social media and their typical uses (Boyd, 2008; Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007; Java, Finn, Song, & Tseng, 2007), though we do cross national boundaries, we connect more with specific people for specific reasons and are no longer forced to associate with those whom we do not want to associate with; regardless of proximity. In other words, nationalism is created through interests rather than geographical boundaries. In fact, McLuhan might have considered this the reversal part of the internet tetrad.

Medium is the Message

Medium is the message means that what is important is not the content of the message itself, but the environment it is presented in. Taking the example of tribalization, what was printed did not matter to the shift to nationalization; what mattered was the affect of print on society. Likewise, what matters in retribalization is not what is shown on tv, presented on the internet, or played on the radio. It is the fact that the mediums themselves have shifted our focus from ourselves to our tribe (in this case, a global community) and from our ears to our eyes.

136038McLuhan’s example of a car being the message and the environment in which the car survives (e.g., the gas stations, the roads, etc.) makes this clear. He says when you change the grounds, you change the car. We know that when you change even the type of road your car goes on (e.g., paved to dirt or unbeaten), you necessarily change elements of the car. You can’t have a car made for paved road functioning well on on an unbeaten path. It must have a different chassis, different tires, a different engine, and so on. The message doesn’t matter. It changes as the medium changes. Shirky (2010) presents a good example of this as well. He explains that with the proliferation of the internet the content we produce changes to fit the abilities of the technologies. Another example is the change from finite amounts of space for categorization (e.g., libraries) to the infinite space we have for those same types of connections with the internet (e.g., tags) (Shirky, 2005). Our message- or content- changes with the medium. We tend to think too linearly and traditionally; an echo of McLuhan’s contention that we strive to produce yesterday’s message with today’s medium.

Those who do not agree with McLuhan may note that the message does matter, and while it changes based on the form of presentation, some messages are universal and eternal (Campbell, 1988). Some stories, regardless of how they’re told, transcend time and medium. In fact, the details of the story change across cultures, but the overarching themes remain. Though a story might be considered a medium, in which case it may serve to support McLuhan’s theory, it seems likely that McLuhan himself would not consider the story the medium but rather the message.


80678659_4603781_1259360083_xorThough McLuhan’s theories seem to accurately represent the ebb and flow of behavior with the tides of medium, there are those who would say the same of him as they would of fortune tellers and astrologists; the notions are vague enough that they can be made to fit any situation. This may also attribute to the constant “misinterpretations” of his theories. If this is true, why would it benefit media psychologists to understand these theories?

As a media psychologist, understanding McLuhan gives us another tool to look beyond bias and preexisting notions of how mediums should be used, to richer uses (e.g., augmented reality). We have the tools to create today’s message with today’s medium. We also have the tools to understand how the mediums have an effect on us as individuals and a global tribe. By standing back away from the specificity of the message, and seeing the larger picture of the medium and the network in which all mediums interact, media psychologists can not only help to articulate how we’ve transitioned from medium to medium in the past, but help us understand and foresee changes ahead.


Boyd, D. (2008). Why youth <3 social network sites: The role of networked publics in teenage social life. Youth, Identity, and Digital Media, 119–142. doi:10.1162/dmal.9780262524834.119
Burke, J. (2013). The day the universe changed: Episode 4 “matter of fact.” YouTube. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D3elWaqgbo
Campbell, J. (1988). The power of myth (1st ed.). New York: Doubleday.
Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook “friends:” social capital and college students’ use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12(4), 1143–1168.
McLuhan, M. (2014). Marshall McLuhan Speaks — Centennial 2011. Marshall McLuhan Speaks. Retrieved from http://marshallmcluhanspeaks.com/
Shirky, C. (2005). Ontology is overrated: Categories, links, and tags. Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet. Retrieved from http://shirky.com/writings/ontology_overrated.html
Shirky, C. (2010). How cognitive surplus will change the world. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/clay_shirky_how_cognitive_surplus_will_change_the_world.html

Understanding Media Psychology… err…

understandng comicsUnderstanding Comics (McCloud, 1994) presents comic readers with a comparatively comprehensive look at comics (e.g., how they’re formatted, what cognitive processes they depend on, reality vs. abstract, etc.). A variety of these principles can be generalized and applied to other forms of media (McCloud, 1994). Understanding these principles lays a foundation for understand the field of media psychology.

EgocentricThe Story– McCloud (1994) points out the more iconic the face, drawn in the comic, the more we as the audience are able to see ourselves in the story. Robert McKee (1997) explains that stories are powerful because they carry universal truths. We connect with stories (and media) that help us to make sense of the world (Jenkins, Li, Drasuskopf, & Green, 2009). We enjoy stories more if they carry a personal meaning to us; something of significance that helps us identify with the situation or the characters (Green, Brock, & Kaufman, 2004). Additionally, media, such as social media, virtual communities, and role-playing games, allow users to uncover, verify, and even try on identities (Bessière, Seay, & Kiesler, 2007; Real Life + Virtual Life = One life by Dr. Jonathan Cabiria, 2008). The story and universality of comics are true for any medium carrying a story, facilitating immersion, whether for enjoyment, emotional response, or seeking to convey a message.

The GutterThe Message– Comics, as well as mediums such as books, films, games, and television, allow concepts and feelings to be understood in personal ways even though they are iconic and representative delivery methods (McCloud, 1994). We experience things using senses that are not required for consumption of the message. For example, in a video game, you may be looking at a computer screen and physically touching a mouse and/or keyboard, but the content may remind you of smells and sounds that are not presented in the book. Our minds fill in blanks based on experiences we’ve had. These blanks are in the blank space in comics, in the scenes we don’t see in movies, and in the events that are eluded to but never described in books, just to name a few. Memories, actions, thoughts, and physical responses are often conditioned to be triggered by a variety of stimuli (e.g., media) (Anderson, 2000).

The Conclusion– There are many ways in which the theories behind comics may be generalized into theories about other media and mediums. Here, we briefly explored message content, the universality of stories, and identity. However, concepts such as transmedia storytelling, branding, the influence of graphic design, persuasion and marketing, and global media are all presented to us by Scott McCloud (1994), but are concepts which are transferable to a great deal of the media used today and in the past. These concepts are all components of media psychology. When we understand these concepts and how they affect us, we can use positive media psychology to facilitate educational, social, and global advancements.

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Anderson, J. R. (2000). Learning and memory : an integrated approach. New York: Wiley.

Bessière, K., Seay, A. F., & Kiesler, S. (2007). The Ideal Elf: Identity Exploration in World of Warcraft. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 10(4), 530–535. doi:10.1089/cpb.2007.9994

Green, M., Brock, T., & Kaufman, G. (2004). Understanding media enjoyment: The role of transportation into narrative worlds. Communication Theory, 14(4), 311-327.

Jenkins, H., Li, X., Krauskopf, A., & Green, J. (2009). If it doesn’t spread, it’s dead (part one):

Media viruses and memes. Retrieved from http://henryjenkins.org/2009/02/if_it_doesnt_spread_its_dead_p.html

McCloud, S. (1994). Understanding comics: the invisible art. New York: William Morrow.

McKee, R. (1997). Story : substance, structure, style, and the principles of screenwriting. New York: Regan Books.

Real Life + Virtual Life = One life by Dr. Jonathan Cabiria. (2008). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3qwdQLSt2I&feature=youtube_gdata_player