Mcluhan Tetrad

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Watching the Watchers and McLuhan’s Tetrad:
The Limits of Cop-Watching in the Internet Age

Brian P. Schaefer

Kevin F. Steinmetz

University of Louisville, US. brian.schaefer@louisville.edu Kansas State University, US. criminogenic@outlook.com Abstract
The internet is considered by many to be a boon for political activists, such as cop-watchers—a free, open, and widespread medium in which to disseminate political messages. While there is truth to these claims, the internet, like any technology, can be used for many purposes and comes with its own arrangement of limitations. To elucidate these limitations and to provide a word of caution about the political potential of the internet, particularly for video-activists/cop-watchers, the theoretical work of
Marshall McLuhan is used to understand how the internet, as a medium, shapes and limits political messages. Using McLuhan’s tetrad, this study examines how the internet is problematic for cop-watching groups. In particular, the internet is said to yield consequences through how it (1) enhances or intensifies how the viewer experiences political messages through speed, (2) retrieves the importance of the narrator, (3) renders previous media increasingly obsolete, yet opens up new avenues for commercial dominance, and (4) creates additional reversals or other problems for video activism, such as the mass proliferation of surveillance and formatting discussion in counter-productive ways.

Introduction
Take a look at the lawman, beating up the wrong guy, Oh man! Wonder if he’ll ever know,
He’s in the bestselling show.
—David Bowie, Life on Mars
Accelerated technological growth and the proliferation of surveillance equipment has allowed for a significant increase in the breadth and power of surveillance assemblages. Despite authorities seeking to maintain control over…...

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