So what does it mean when Marshall McLuhan say’s the medium is in the message? It is mentioned in the reading ‘what is the meaning of the medium is the message‘ as the personal and social consequences of any medium – of any extension of ourselves – results from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.
In simpler terms, it really just means that the medium which is seen as the extension of ourselves is the message – the change of scale, pace or pattern. Sound good so far?
This is an interesting theory, once you get your head around it (trust me I’m still trying). A couple of good examples were brought up in the BCM112 lecture, where Ted (the lecturer) was talking about the lecture hall being a medium (Yes, bear with me!). So he was saying that the message to the medium is our topic for that weeks lecture. If the set up of the medium were different – for example the lecture hall was fully lit, there wasn’t a screen behind the lecturer and everybody was on equal ground – the message would be absorbed and interpreted differently due to power being removed from the lecturer. I guess out of all the examples that was given during this week this is the one that stuck with me more and made it easier to understand.
So overall the whole ‘the medium is the message’ is a paradoxical statement, which focuses on the form of the media and the medium rather than the content/message itself.
A paradoxical statement is one that seems absurd or is contradictory, which is very much present in the statement ‘the medium is the message’ as a medium can perform on its own without a message effectively, however without a message having a medium, the message will no longer exist.
Again, in the lecture it was said that the change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. So the medium platforms constantly change over time: from linear or sequential mediums such as papyrus scrolls to books, where there is access to random texts which don’t necessarily need to be read in order, to internet pages, where the information is all no-linear and most of our information can be accessed through the use of hyper texts. As the medium platform becomes more advanced, many of the old mediums are disregarded as they become upgraded and the messages change.
This is an interesting point to consider as our mediums are upgrading with the messages, however, what does this mean for older medium platforms? Well, in reality, in a way they become extinct. For example, we talked about a papyrus scroll and how it was a linear medium. If there were papyrus scrolls used in todays day in age, I can bet there would be many people complaining about how annoying it would be, which is why they were updated into a more non-linear function. And the old media becomes extinct within society.
- Federman, M. (2004) What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.pdf