Since the early days of communication, humanity has been fascinated by the methods it uses to convey and preserve information. How we communicate with each other defines who we are and composes so much of what makes a culture and an individual unique. We have seen media evolve across a wide array of channels, from print to radio to television to the Internet. When it comes to understanding these various media, one of the best to learn from is Marshall McLuhan. Along with his thing for clip-on neckties, McLuhan introduced a lot of remarks about the ramifications of new forms of expression and media. Most notably, McLuhan’s expression
“The medium is the message”.
At first, this concept might seem vague and it’s true: McLuhan had a liking for speaking in riddles and rhymes that might baffle at first, but grow into epiphany if given the chance. “The medium is the message” as a phrase sums up a much deeper communication theory, which is that ‘the medium through which we choose to communicate holds as much, if not more, value than the message itself’ (Jason Gross, 2011). The way I see it, is that context is more important than content itself.
There are examples of “the medium is the message” everywhere in modern society. In the past year or two, more new and diverse approaches to interacting with audiences have occurred due to social media. Twitter was one of the first medium’s to be used to facilitate “talk-back” for live television programs, typically displayed across the bottom of the television screen. Question and Answer from Australia’s national broadcaster, The ABC famously use the #QandA hashtag to show tweets relating to the political television program. Mark Federman tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. With this early warning, we can set out to characterise and identify the new medium before it becomes obvious to everyone.
Originally reading “The medium is the message” left me a bit foggy. I think confusion may be an appropriate word to describe how I felt. However, after picking my mind for several hours in an attempt to write a coherent blog post I gained an understanding of McLuhan’s point that, “the medium through which a message is experienced, shapes the user’s perception of the message.”
When thinking about how this medium has shaped the message it is mind blowing how it can go full circle and before you know it the message is shaping the medium.
What is the meaning of The Medium is the Message? (Mark Federman) http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm
The Medium is the Message, 50 Years Later (Pacific Standard) http://www.psmag.com/nature-and-technology/medium-message-50-years-later-91552
The Medium is the Message (Smashing Magazine) http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/07/04/the-medium-is-the-message/