Marshal McLuhan famously said, "The medium is the message."
Clearly, McLuhan was talking out of his ass.
(Here is what is true about the medium and the message:
The medium influences, sometimes profoundly, how the message is perceived.
The message can't be separated from the medium that conveys it.
Some types of media and some kinds of messages mix well. Some don't.
Them are some important insights. But, especially for professional communicators, it's important to distinguish medium from message—communication vehicle from communication content.
So next time one of these technobabblers mindlessly says, "The medium is the message," let's retort, "Then why do we have different words for them?")
Interesting that McLuhan comes up again. He was trotted out by a commenter on a recent blog of Shel’s [http://tinyurl.com/y5o3o7v%5D on one of my pet gripes – the idea that actual books [as opposed to Kindles or iBooks, etc.] are soon going to be extinct because “younger” people won’t read them.
I often wonder what McLuhan would think about all these people using his statement to justify a bunch of stuff that I somehow doubt he would have necessarily endorsed. I guess that’s one of the prices of being “famous” – people can use your name and words any way they like after you’re dead.
David Murray says
Yeah, you’ve got to worry about people who wield quotes from people whose books they’ve never read. Can you imagine one of these full-time Twitterers curled up with McLuhan’s “The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man”?
Sean Williams says
David, you hit another homer here. Mark Federman (U of Toronto) writes: “Right at the beginning of Understanding Media, he tells us that a medium is “any extension of ourselves.” Classically, he suggests that a hammer extends our arm and that the wheel extends our legs and feet. Each enables us to do more than our bodies could do on their own. Similarly, the medium of language extends our thoughts from within our mind out to others. http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/article_mediumisthemessage.htm)
Not all media are the messages, and surely not all messages ARE the media. Let’s not misread theoretical perspectives into a to-do list, thanks…
David Murray says
Thanks, Sean. But I feel I’ve hit this homer a little late. I think it makes the game 10-2 with two outs in the 9th ….