Week 3- A few words about Marshall McLuhan- “The Medium is the Message”

Marshall McLuhan states in one of his famous quotes, “The medium is the message” because it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” (Understanding Media, NY, 1964, p. 9)

McLuhan predicted that we would become technology dependent based on new inventions in communication technology. McLuhan also predicted that this would change our culture. Inventions in technology did change our culture.

I remember our generation as children, we would spend hours on the phone with our friends. When the Internet had evolved, we started instant messaging for hours, which allowed us to talk to more than one friend at the same time. However, this generation of children is different. This generation mostly uses text messages, where phone calling is a thing of the past. I think that as a culture we are evolving as well, making plans with friends via texting instead of phone calling or email. My family and friends are guilty of it too. We don’t want to “bother” making that extra personal touch of a phone call. We of a generation and our children’s generation have become so technology dependent and too busy in our daily lives to take that extra personal step. This is shown in an article supporting Marshall McLuhan, titled, The Medium is the Message, by Jason Gross. He states that “how we communicate with each other defines who we are and constitutes so much of what a culture and an individual.” http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/07/04/the-medium-is-the-message/

This is also shown in another article titled, Technological Determinism of Marshall McLuhan, where it is stated that “the communications theory of Technological Determinism was molded by Marshall McLuhan. The basic idea behind the theory is that changes in the way humans communicate is what shapes our existence. McLuhan feels that our culture is molded by how we are able to communicate. To understand this, there are a few main points you must comprehend. First, inventions in communication technology cause cultural change. Secondly, changes in modes of communication shape human life. Thirdly, as McLuhan himself puts it, “We shape our tools, and they in turn shape us”. Technological Determinism is distinctly a humanistic theory.” http://www.allsands.com/potluck2/potluck2/technologicalde_ubp_gn.htm This also shows how McLuhan predicted that we would become technology dependent and that technology would change our culture.

I think that how we communicate via the Internet, text messages, emails, or talking to one another can give a different meaning to the message that we are trying to get across. If you are talking to someone, they can hear inflection in your voice and perceive the true meaning of your words. However, through a text, email, or instant message, no one can hear the inflection in your voice, and can perceive the meaning of your words different. This is shown in Jason Gross’ article, where he also states, “The central theory behind “the medium is the message” is that the medium through which content is carried plays a vital role in the way it is perceived.” http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/07/04/the-medium-is-the-message/

My thoughts on McLuhan’s tetrad:

“Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.” I think this means that each medium, whether it’s a text message, through a social network, or through a telephone call, can produce a different meaning of a message to come across. I think this is true. If you’re talking on the telephone, you can hear inflection in someone’s voice. Where as through a text message, you can’t hear someone’s voice and you may take a meaning of a message differently. Through a social network is even harder, because everything you post can get comments on it as well as other people’s opinions, which could get out of hand if someone takes the meaning of your message differently.

“The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium.” (Understanding Media, NY, 1964, p. 8) I think this means that all technology evolves and as it evolves, it affects the world around us, which I find this true as well. For example, with the use of cellular phone technology, we use text messages and facebook comments (mobile media) to make plans now that technology has evolved to allow us to do so. We do this now instead of calling each other on the phone.


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