The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan’s theory of “the medium is the message” is a complex but powerful idea which is undeniably relevant to all consumers and producers.

Federman (2004, p. 2) says “‘The medium is the message’ 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.” It’s important to note that McLuhan acknowledges that the medium is not just limited to media, but rather the medium is “an extension of ourselves,”

In summary, McLuhan’s theory is that the medium in which something is presented in is of equal importance (if not more important than) the content itself.

While this is an interesting theory, I can’t say I agree with all of McLuhan’s points.

I think Olson (2015) puts it best when he says “Mediums [imprint] themselves into the very fabric of any content that is delivered through them, and persistent exposure to that limitation alters social thought.”

For example, Twitter’s word limitations creates a new way of communicating, making users carefully consider their language and grammar to keep within the bounds. The impacts of the medium are undeniable, helping to create new online cultures (eg. Twitterature) and ways of sharing information. However, I personally believe that the content will always be more important than the medium.


References:

McLuhan, M 1964, ‘The Medium is the Message’, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man

Federman, M 2004, What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message?

Olson, D 2015, Minisode The Medium is the Message

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