The Computer is Human: A Media Analysis of the “Get a Mac” Campaign

By Meg Knowles and Ramona R. Santa Maria.

Published by The Technology Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Computer technology is invested with human characteristics and personalities in Apple’s recent (2006-10) “Get a Mac” advertising campaign. This paper will undertake an analysis focused on several commercials in the “Get a Mac” campaign that utilize health and personality as distinct markers of humanity, and which effect/reflect societal attitudes toward the computer. We will demonstrate that such anthropomorphic representations in visual culture are an important step in the seamless integration of computing into society (Jones & Jo: 2004).
Societal fears about encroaching technology were reflected in numerous visual representations of the computer in the 20th century, however Marshall McLuhan (1964) laid the groundwork for a more optimistic view of man’s relationship to technology in Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. While post-modernist Donna Harraway (1994) posited the cyborg as an awkward transitional figure in man’s journey toward the adaptation of technology, in the most recent decade, Nass & Moon (2000) studied the humanization of our social responses to computers, and Lisa Nakamura (2002) has explored our ability to transcend identity beyond the human form in cyberspace. The “Get A Mac” campaign introduces a new phase of the expression of man’s relationship to technology in which we accept computing unconditionally into the human realm as all physical separations have been eradicated.

Keywords: Media, Computing, Technology

International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.19-28. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 750.557KB).

Meg Knowles

Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Buffalo State College (SUNY), Buffalo, NY, USA

Meg Knowles is an Assistant Professor of Media Production at Buffalo State College. She is also an award winning autobiographical documentary and experimental video artist whose work has been screened at festivals, galleries and museums including the Museum of Modern Art, Anthology Film Archives, Portland PDX Film Festival, the Athens International Film & Video Festival as well as on Free Speech TV and PBS. Meg is a graduate of the MFA program in Film Media Arts at Temple University and is a Director and Producer for the Termite TV Collective. Meg’s research interests are in Visual Communication, Documentary Film History and Theory, and Autobiography.

Dr. Ramona R. Santa Maria

Assistant Professor, Computer Information Systems Department, Buffalo State College, Buffalo, NY, USA

Ramona R. Santa Maria has taught within the Computer Information Systems Department at Buffalo State College since 1999. An assistant professor, she holds a PhD. in social foundations from the University at Buffalo with a concentration in critical and cultural studies of information technology. An award winning teacher, her research interests include the social impacts of technology for women and minorities, and classroom technology integration. Santa Maria lives in Buffalo, NY with husband Chris, and son Lorenzo.

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