The medium is the message!

The focus of this weeks lecture was the centred around Marshall McLuhan’s theory of “The medium is the message.” When I first heard this notion, I struggled (and am still struggling) to get my head around it. I found it very interesting in Mark Federman’s article that people, after reading the theory, often try to connect the idea of “medium” and the idea of a “message”, and come to the wrong conclusion. I know I was guilty of this initially. Federman describes the idea that the “medium” is an extension of ourselves, and thus enables us to increases our thoughts beyond our own mind, and a “message” as “the change of scale, pace or pattern of behaviour.” What McLuhan is trying to express in his complex theory is that a medium is defined by the changes it has on a culture and society, rather than purely on its content. A prime example of this is the infamous “Bert is evil” cartoons, in particular, the digital photo-shopped collage of ‘Bert’ and Osama Bin Laden. Dino Ignacio was the creator in this case, and “…from his bedroom caused an international controversy.” The image circled the Internet and found itself being published on anti-American signs, posters and T-shirts in Pakistan. It was the effect this image had in Pakistan that caused such an outcry, and this clearly supports McLuhan’s theory. Our society has experienced a rapid change in media advancements. Many new media platforms are replacing old ‘dead media’ platforms. These new platforms provide similar content to their predecessors, although, are expressed in different ways to appeal to varying audiences. Federman points out that we need to “…look beyond the obvious and seek the non-obvious changes or effects that are enabled, enhanced, accelerated or extended by the new thing.” The way we view, and interact with different media forms shapes how we think and act.

References: http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.pdf http://www.nyupress.org/webchapters/0814742815intro.pdf

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