The Medium Is The Message

Advertisement

Since the early days of communication, humanity has been captivated by the methods it uses to convey and preserve information. How we communicate with each other defines who we are and constitutes so much of what makes a culture and an individual unique.

Over the centuries, we have seen media evolve across a wide array of channels, from print to radio to television to the Internet. Each one of these channels, or media, has its own unique characteristics, much like the people who use them.

1
The medium through which we choose to communicate matters. (Image: Jon Ashcroft2)

When it comes to understanding these various media, one of the best to learn from is Marshall McLuhan. Born in 1911 and passing in 1980, McLuhan had no opportunity to experience the Web the way we know it today, but that didn’t stop him from exerting a huge influence on it. It was McLuhan who first spoke about technology and communication having the ability to create a “global village.” As an early educator and pioneer of the study of communication and its evolution over time, McLuhan introduced a lot of observations about the impact of new forms of expression and media. Most notably, McLuhan’s expression “The medium is the message” has had a resounding impact not just on Web design but on mass media in general.

“The medium is the message” as a phrase sums up a much deeper communication theory, which is that the medium through which we choose to communicate holds as much, if not more, value than the message itself. At first, this concept might seem vague and indeed a lot to grasp. But I can honestly say that understanding the meaning behind these words revolutionized the way I approach Web design; not from a technical or procedural standpoint, mind you, but from a fresh mental perspective that provided clarity on how to approach and design for the Web.

On The Surface

McLuhan’s theory has certainly not been neglected or forgotten. On the contrary, it has been widely studied in a number of circles and applied to television, print and the Internet alike. While many people seem to grasp the general point, the deeper truth is often missed or misinterpreted. In order to get to this deeper meaning, exploring the general concept first may be necessary.

3
Perception of a medium plays a vital role. (Image: Jon Ashcroft4)

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. We no doubt see this with the Internet today, in the way we get our news compared to how we got it with print. But perhaps an even clearer illustration can be painted without reference to technology or communication at all.

Imagine, if you will, a deep well in the middle of a vast desert. The well is our medium (as the radio or Web would be), and the water is our message. A rich and reliable well in the middle of the desert would naturally become the hub of travel routes and even a sustainable population. The water by itself is of no use without the well. If it were inaccessible or people were unaware of its existence, it could not support life. The well, as a medium, delivers water to the people passing by or living nearby. As a result, the well becomes synonymous with water and life, despite really being just a hole in the ground.

A Real-Life Comparison

Building on this illustration of the well being a medium for the water, we can extend the theory to modern technology. Let’s compare a feature film to a website as we know them today. Communicating the same general content to the user in both media is possible. However, because the media are inherently different, we experience the content in entirely different ways.

A film is a linear experience. Everyone watching the film participates in the same preset series of a beginning, middle and end. We watch characters and stories unfold over the timeline, working towards a conclusion. Since the creation of film, this idea has been integral to the planning and development phases. All of this is determined by the medium, regardless of what the message may be.

Transformers 35
The upcoming Transformers movie offers a very different experience to that of the Web.

Move the same content over to a website and the experience changes dramatically. In the context of a website, information is rarely passed to the user as a linear experience. Instead, character traits, back story and plot points might all be split up into different pages or sections. It is up to the user to decide how to consume the information and reach a conclusion. Just as a beginning, middle and end are a part of the entire film process, this segmentation and fluidity should be a part of the planning stages of a Web project.

Expanding Our Understanding

This is all well and good, but saying that we experience different media in different ways doesn’t really sound groundbreaking. A lot of people are inclined to take McLuhan’s theory here as a lesson learned and a day’s work done.

Well, sit tight because we’re just getting started in exploring how the deeper truth of “the medium is the message” can change the way you design and develop for the Web.

6
Link yourself onto the highway of mass media communication. (Image: Jon Ashcroft7)

Going back to our example of water being delivered through a well, we can quickly draw a comparison to the impact that fresh water has on our society. In the same way, we can see how a new medium can affect us. Before the telephone, there was no such thing as having a conversation with a friend or colleague in another town or region, at least not without a journey that would span days or longer. Today, we are always just a phone call away from a friend or family member abroad. We even take for granted that we can be in touch with people so quickly.

Going further, we can ask whether there was such thing as a “global event” before mass media communication such as satellite links and the Internet. Today, we often cite various events as things that will “change the world,” but 100 years ago the entire world was not reachable. Before we had the ability to learn about natural disasters, wars, elections and technological achievements through mass media, a “global event” simply did not exist. As a result, we could argue not only that mass media is a tool to channel global events, but that it made them possible in the first place.

World Vision8
For World Vision, the Internet is an invaluable tool for expanding and executing its mission.

Think about it. Without the Internet, Justin Bieber would not exist to almost all of us. Of course, he would still be a part of the world, but without the medium that drove his success, a cure for Bieber Fever would be entirely unnecessary.

An Impact On Web Design

The real takeaway here is that Web designers are able to create tools, experiences, services and communities as a result of their medium. The Internet has a more powerful reach than any other medium in history, which in turn has equally large implications for its status as the message. As a message, the Internet preaches accessibility, expandability and instant satisfaction, things that we designers should keep in mind when approaching any project.

Think about how your projects will use the Internet, not as a medium but as a message. In the disaster that struck Japan this past spring, the Internet became the medium of choice in every way. From the people-finding tools introduced by Google to the relief websites and news coverage across the globe, websites stood out not because they were fashioned with HTML5 or designed responsively, but because they enabled us to be in touch with friends and family and to donate to the cause. New tools, trends and CSS3 gimmicks are a part of the medium, but they play mere supporting roles to the message.

CSS Zen Garden9
One of the original outlets for demonstrating the power of style, CSS Zen Garden remains a powerful showcase for how a unique design can shape a message.

This doesn’t mean we should minimize or eliminate design and aesthetics. Rather, designers should always consider how a design decision shapes the message. The very techniques we practice every day — using line, color, shape and other fundamentals — all play a role in the way the message is received. Using design principles to shape the tone and audience of a message, versus creating a stylish and trendy look, is what separates professionals from amateurs in our industry. Realizing your full potential as a designer has a lot to do with your ability to control the message.

Controlling The Message

We’ve come full circle, back to the original point of this article. As Web designers, how do we utilize McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message”?

It starts as soon as an idea or request for a project comes to us. As professionals, we need to guide our clients down the right path and show them how best to take advantage of the Internet. We need to recognize that Joe’s Hardware Store on the corner might not benefit as much from a domain name and website as it would from a Twitter and Facebook account or no Internet presence at all. If good ol’ Joe has no intention or need to market to anyone outside of his neighborhood, then the Internet’s message just isn’t necessary for him or his customers.

10
The whole message is more than the sum of its parts. (Image: Jon Ashcroft11)

On the other hand, if Joe wants to market his patented new handsaw to a larger market and expand his business, then the Web might just be the place to do that. As a designer, you can help Joe harness the power of instant Web exposure, social marketing, online orders and all of the other fantastic tools that can help his business grow. Joe’s new website will be a beacon of Web standards: it will be responsive, elegant and unique. Of course, we may notice that none of these things actually earn Joe a lick more of money. Rather, the Internet, when used as a message to new customers, holds the real power.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg with using the Internet to benefit a business, service or application. The gradual ubiquity of the Web makes this topic only more exciting and powerful. Staying true to the message that our medium presents goes hand in hand beautifully with building solutions that are adaptive and constantly expanding with technology.

As stated earlier, my tools, skills and process for designing and developing websites have always been evolving. Still, the motivating factor behind Web design is in the message. The message is what makes money, makes an impact or expands your reach. Without it, interest in websites and applications would never get off the ground.

The Takeaway

When all is said and done, it is important to remember two things about McLuhan and his teachings. First, the medium through which a message is experienced shapes the user’s perception of the message. Secondly, a medium can be the message itself if it is delivering content that would otherwise be impossible to access.

12
Keep it simple, and let the medium do some of the communicating. (Image: Jon Ashcroft13)

As you start projects and are approached for your professional opinion on how to harness the power of the Internet, always consider the message. Designers who jump into talking about how the latest and greatest trends can help a new project are missing the point. We use the Web to create beautiful and unique solutions that would have been impossible just a few years ago. As a designer, make sure you always respect the powerful message that this medium is.

Additional Resources

  • A Checklist for Content Work14
    An excerpt of Erin Kissane’s book The Elements of Content Strategy. A fantastic resource for taking online content to the next level and enhancing your message.
  • Make Your Content Make a Difference15
    Digging further into content development, this article outlines some of the myriad advantages to spending more time on your content.
  • The Medium Is the Massage16
    Get your information from the source! This book is a concise summary of McLuhan’s thoughts.

(al)

Footnotes

  1. 1 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5161779163/in/photostream/
  2. 2 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5161779163/in/photostream/
  3. 3 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5704563713/in/photostream/
  4. 4 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5704563713/in/photostream/
  5. 5 http://www.transformersmovie.com/
  6. 6 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5123719727/in/photostream/
  7. 7 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5123719727/in/photostream/
  8. 8 http://www.worldvision.org
  9. 9 http://www.csszengarden.com
  10. 10 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5114349619/in/photostream/
  11. 11 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5114349619/in/photostream/
  12. 12 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5138288695/in/photostream/
  13. 13 http://www.flickr.com/photos/theilluminated/5138288695/in/photostream/
  14. 14 http://www.alistapart.com/articles/a-checklist-for-content-work/
  15. 15 http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/04/12/make-your-content-make-a-difference/
  16. 16 http://www.amazon.com/Medium-Massage-Marshall-McLuhan/dp/1584230703

↑ Back to topShare on Twitter

Jason Gross is a freelance web designer focused on creating clean and user friendly websites. Jason currently lives in Indiana and can be found on Twitter as @JasonAGross or on the web at his personal blog and portfolio.

Advertising
  1. 1

    Sorry, but no! It just so happens this is one of the topics where the misuse of terminology is bugging me more than in fields where I am less inclined to point out that someone is wrong on the internet, so please excuse me while I simply voice my concern:

    This mainstream misconception of “medium” and “message” might be useful to a certain degree, but it is not what McLuhan was saying.

    Following up the naysaying I blatantly put forth an old and tangentially relevant gratuitious self reference: http://blog.jochmann.me/post/4629703171/marshall-mcluhan-messenger-change

    Truth be told, I actually like what Jason has to say about design principles. Quite much so. Never mind my rambling then…

    10
    • 2

      Saying “the medium is the message” is tantamount to saying “the cup is the tea”, or “the CD is the music”. If McLuhan coined the axiom as an empirical fact, then it most certainly was not as an endorsement, but rather an indictment.

      In the “Global Village”, I believe he made more than one reference to North America’s impending “cultural implosion”…which will likely come to pass rather soon, seeing that Mr. Gross and his ilk are continually misrepresenting McLuhan’s work and inherent warnings.

      Social networks are anything but, and contrary to popular belief, nobody actually watches television — they watch television PROGRAMMING. Without the programming, television is merely an appliance. (Although with “programs” like “Jersey Shore”, you may as well sit and watch your refrigerator.)

      Hey, Mr. Gross: is a DRY WELL synonymous with water and life? No. Is the well necessary? Yes. Is it the water? No. If in the middle of the desert there was a GAS PUMP which was connected to a reservoir of water instead of gas, that would be much better than a DRY WELL if water is the essential need.

      Most “messages” are unnecessary — neo-logisms made for the sake of novelty itself. Even my own post, ironically enough, is unnecessary, because this wicked generation knows very well that nobody eats digital food or drinks digital water, yet we have the gall to call our electronic world of commerce “the economy”.

      This Twitter world is full of twits.

      2
  2. 3

    Andrea Di Marco

    July 4, 2011 5:58 am

    Sorry to say it Jason, but if you think McLuhan’s theories are still satisfactory to describe contemporary complexity you’re outdated, at best. There’s no such a thing like a global village, the medium is really not the message and no, the world is not flat. Period. It would take me an essay rather than a comment to explain, but I warmly suggest you to read some more robust author, like Appadurai and Hannerz to chew and inform your design conclusions.

    -9
    • 4

      sorry Andrea but I do not agree with you.
      McLuhan’s theories have always been considered slightly cryptic. More in general, “the medium is the message” is an aphorism that most people don’t figure out yet. A deep understanding of this rule, in my opinion, is a fundamental value to deal with communication in general, and it still matters a lot., perhaps even more than in the past.

      Currently, if you place your activity in any market, you need to understand which media you should use to be effective. In this perspective, not being in the key media of your field of interest means not existing at all, therefore the medium is a message itself.
      After which, you need to think about how to convey proper messsages, but that is a second step.

      The web in general is getting more and more relevant for almost every kind of activity you want to carry out, therefore McLuhan’s aphorism is a basic principle in this communication field.

      This is just a raw reflection on why this article is useful and why all the people who deal with digital communication should deeply understand McLuhan, and of course this is just my opinion… ;-)

      6
  3. 5

    Andrea Di Marco

    July 4, 2011 6:52 am

    McLuhan theories are not cryptic, but naif: he just didn’t live enough to gain enough distance from the historical moment he was describing. He’s been influential, but he’s been superseded by far superior theories. It’s scary that half a century later someone is going to build some serious speculations over his concepts, thus ignoring, again, half a century of sociological studies in the field of communication an consumer culture. I’ve got the shivers still reading someone talking about “mass communication”. Are you kidding?
    I would generally overlook this kind of articles written by non-sociologists, as they are clearly not well informed enough about the subject matter. But this is quite an authoritative magazine, one that has an influence and I don’t like the fact that they are going to publish stuff so lightly. This topic is a slimy one. Glad you are facing it, but do it consciously!

    1
    • 6

      Andrea,

      This topic tends to be a conversation starter, especially when applied to the Internet. I think we would all be better off if you told us what points in this article you disagree with the most and why.

      Personally I find this topic to have a huge impact on web designers today. Putting consideration into the medium that you are designing for and communicating through is one of the most important lessons a designer can learn and McLuhan teaches it well. If you can share with us a better way to approach the subject I would be happy to explore it and continue to learn about this subject matter.

      10
      • 7

        Andrea Di Marco

        July 4, 2011 8:15 am

        I’m sorry Jason, but I don’t see the premises for further discussing the topic here, it’s just getting polemic. As @Do pointed out, this is not an how-to article which, again, I’m glad you are considering writing about. But I modestly (and totally without offense, believe me) I think you are just not prepared enough for such a subject, and I can just read comments going wild in any conceivable direction, again not taking in consideration communication with the respect it deserves, as a scientific discipline. It would help if you at least would consider taking into consideration the perspective of different authors, and maybe narrowing the topic a bit (I think it’s too wide to cover it effectively).
        But it is simply not feasible for me to pinpoint all the sources of my objection.
        I like your mighty step into this subject, it means you like experimenting and figuring things out. It will just get better next time :)

        -16
    • 9

      after my first reply this one might sound like a paradox for you…

      that is: I agree with you when you say that authoritative magazines feel free to talk about serious issues lightly and without a strong background. I also feel some of McLuhan’s theories are, as you said, naif, but we can’t deny, at least, that “the medium is the message” is still an effective aphorism which must be considered. The fact that the years pass doesn’t always mean that ALL the theories become necessarily out-of-date…sometimes it is, sometimes not. And this aphorism, in my opinion, is still a base of the communication.

      In addition, I haven’t got the shivers when I read about “mass communication”, because in my opinion it still exists and it is strong. You don’t feel it anymore just in case you are skilled and you don’t use media anymore in a traditional way…but the step between “mass communication” and “silent marketing” (to use a hiperbolic comparison) is still a long way off.

      More in general, by the way, I agree with you and I will sure have a look at the authors you mentioned (I talk too much and I don’t even know them…)

      cheers
      Stefano

      1
      • 10

        Andrea Di Marco

        July 4, 2011 8:25 am

        “sorry Andrea but I do not agree with you.”

        “More in general, by the way, I agree with you”

        0
      • 11

        Andrea Di Marco

        July 4, 2011 8:33 am

        your fingers should not get any speedier than your brain :)

        0
        • 12

          wow…it sounds like you’re a bit aggressive even if I was trying to slow down the controversy…thanks for your clever reply… ;-)

          I agree about something and disagree about something else, I thought it was clear. I repeat, in my opinion, “the medium is the message” means that by delivering messages using a certain medium you highlight that you exist, otherwise no one will notice you’re out there…and that’s a fundamental matter in the current communication field (guess why they still spend a lot of money to blast us with television ads which are broadcasted tons of times per day?).

          In addition, as Do Jacobson said, I believe that is very good to read an article related to web matters that, in the meantime, approaches a topic that is never mentioned in the “how-to” articles massively spread over the web.

          I want also to mention that saying that McLuhan’s message is played out only not to go with the flow is pointless…you should know very well, since it looks like you’re skilled in communication matters, that sometimes new media replace the old ones, sometimes they just join the existing ones. This idea holds good for theories as well, and in this case it’s imo true.

          1
    • 13

      When you say that “the medium is the message” is not a valid aphorism, it would be interesting to know how you define the expression. Apart from Tim Chesney on this comment thread, I haven’t seen a valid definition of what MM meant.

      The automobile as a medium is a very good example of this. The introduction of the car to our society deeply changed the way we consumed, interacted and perceive culture. That’s why the medium is the message. Walt Disney realized this and he built Disneyland.

      -2
      • 14

        The light illuminates – it created a era of work/life after dark.

        A medium is by McLuhan’s definition an “extension of man”.

        2
  4. 15

    david lee king

    July 4, 2011 7:23 am

    I’ve hung around too many artists, writers, and musicians – they (and I) disagree with the premise here. Can the medium shape the message? Well yeah, of course. Oils vs watercolor, distortion vs acoustic, 1st person vs 3rd person … yep.

    But the medium is NEVER the message, unless maybe you’re Apple trying to sell a new laptop. The person who created is always trying to communicate, leave you with a feeling, share something of themselves. Same with writing on the web – you are communicating a message.

    I think what you are trying to get at is this: the medium can enhance the message, and we have way more tools to enhance messages than we used to. Which is very cool!

    5
    • 16

      That’s not true, the medium can be the message. If a certain medium is the only supplier of the particular message, then it becomes synonymous with the message itself. Alluding to one of your examples, if people only knew watercolor painting for landscapes, and oil paintings for portraits those mediums become synonymous with their message. I understand that’s not the case, but in a situation where that happens, the medium is the message.

      -1
  5. 17

    It doesn’t really matters which theorist you’ll take for an article like this, because opinions on media culture are always invalidated or expanded by future theorists.

    Marshall McLuhan found out that his own “medium is the message” did not really do the trick, so what do you do then? You parodize it yourself into “the medium is the massage”.

    I think it’s hard to validate current design with only McLuhan in mind. But I do like the approach with a more theoretical view in comparison to the common “how-to” articles, of which we already have so many.

    It’s been a while that I have read up on my media theories, but I think I just might grab some of my books from the shelf. :)

    4
  6. 18

    Marcelo Mesquita

    July 4, 2011 7:40 am

    I also agree that “the medium is the message”!

    Putting more fuel on the fire: there is a study by Malcolm Gladwell, which show that a reporter can influence, positively or negatively, its viewers depending on how it tells the story. Gladwell also talks about the influence of the mass on the people, so the amount of positive comments or likes also affects the way people evaluate a content.

    Some examples:
    1. A story about a politician told by a reporter in a relaxed way can make people more sympathetic to that politician. In this case the message was “vote for him.”

    2. A product advertised on the Internet with multiple users commenting badly can change the minds of prospective buyers.

    I think I ran away a little of the subject “design” but I hope to have contributed to the discussion.

    Regards.

    3
    • 19

      In my view, there is a large difference between saying that the medium/delivery can affect the perception of the message, and saying that the medium IS the message.

      9
  7. 20

    “the medium is the message,” was something I never fully understood, but reading the article and opinions made it clearer…it’s the bigger picture in the message…I’m sure this can be dissected in all sorts of ways, and I’m sure there’s many levels of what exactly that “medium” is, but I think it’s important to be reminded of any medium as being part of the message, so you can see past the minutia and strategize ways to take in and communicate information more effectively.

    1
  8. 21

    This article has some good points, however the idea that the medium IS the message is illogical. The message stands separate from the delivery (medium). The medium brings it into the physical world. The presentation of the message is extremely important, and in a sense, the way we deliver that message sends a message. However I think simply stating the medium is the message is a very shallow look at information, and messages.

    3
  9. 22

    I think a fair amount of confusion around this post is based on a misconception of what McLuhan was getting at.

    The idea behind ‘the medium is the message’ is sociological not individual. McLuhan’s point, rightly or wrongly, is that the mediums we (as a society) use to deliver content affect our society in ways we don’t expect or notice over time.

    It is not about how an individual perceives a message based on where they see it (ie “I’m reading this on the internet therefore your company is more tech savvy than I previously believed”), but about the meta information we absorb subconsciously through the mediums our society uses and how that affects us as a society.

    The internet might be better described as a ‘channel’ not a medium as McLuhan would understand it.

    An example of a medium is advertising. 50 plus years of advertising has had a profound affect on our society that is quite separate from the individual messages or channels used by corporations. eg valuing consumption over output, replacing/upgrading rather than repairing, preferring more money over better conditions, being happy not knowing where our products come from or how they are made as long as they are cheap (showing my bias here!).

    The same could be said about the medium of ‘News’ or, the new kid on the block, social networks (maybe). There is a *meta* effect going on that we are not aware of. These mediums have their own message but it is not one we can tap into or ‘use to our advantage’.

    What you’re talking about here is taking advantage of the merits of a particular channel like print or online. This is obviously important to take into consideration with design but has nothing whatsoever to do with McLuhan’s theories. So, some good points but not the best premise.

    26
    • 23

      very good analysis imo. thanks

      0
    • 24

      Spot on, the confusion of the terminology McLuhan used is why the moniker of “the medium is the message” is bound to be misinterpreted if applied to properties of distribution channels. It’s a sociologists perspective, not a designer’s. One thing to note though: The Internet is very much a medium in the McLuhanian sense. It’s impact on society is actually a great example of why McLuhan’s view is still helpful analytically, even if it needs augmentation to gain predictive powers. Both the data liberation discourse and the privacy discourse are fundamentally determined by the networked distribution of data to name but two prominent spaces that are created by the medium.

      3
    • 25

      Thank god Tim came to the rescue on this one. This is something you learn in early college years. Hate seeing it being misconstrued so badly by such a reputable website.

      0
    • 26

      „Medium is the massage” is the sociological point of view. If McLuhan was right, the medium has impact on designers too. But the impact is very different than Jason’s ideas. The impact of media on society means that, we as a society need web designers, that designers are needed and well-paid. Shortly, society legitimizes designer. Additionally this impact doesn’t depend on our ability to recognize it and to understand it, and it doesn’t depend on our acceptance of this phenomenon. Summing up, the internet has an impact on designers, but we can observe it in such expressions as “I’m a designer” rather than looking at particular project.

      But „Medium is the massage” is rather historical than today useful theory because is based on so called Strong Technological Determinism. I think better approach in 2011 is the theory presented by Paul Levinson in the book entitled The Soft Edge

      1
  10. 27

    Very interesting topic, but awefully written. You might have got the point that how those 2 concepts co-exist as a powerful communication too. However you have missed the more important part of medium, which is the tool or flatform that some designers should consider creating while trying too hard focusing on telling the message literally.

    0
  11. 28

    sorry, but i also do not agree!!

    -1
  12. 29

    McLuhan meant that the effects of the mediums we use are greater than the effects of any message carried by those mediums. Book literacy created the individual self from the tribal self and the electronic mediums are creating a new version of a tribal self. I’m not sure this article really gets that.

    He intentionally sent out exaggerated aphorisms as a stimulant to thought and discussion. He called them ‘probes’ and didn’t think of them as final truths. What they did do, is make people think about things that had been such a part of the background as to be invisible.

    Douglas Coupland came out with a biography recently that is a very good place to start for anyone interested in McLuhan.

    4
    • 30

      This is the theory I was presented with when studying McLuhan in the Eighties. The effect of the medium becomes the blueprint and builds expectation and ultimately integration into our society. The physicality of books have influenced our learning experiences both mentally as well as physically.
      The actual message within the pages shares the stage with the medium. In the case of the book, the medium is present in our knowledge of its physicality. Interesting is the crossover mediums like ipads that mimic this blueprint in its physicality and function such as swipes (turning pages) and scrolling (broadsheets).

      I think McLuhan would have loved being a part of this new age of technology.

      What has happened here with the posting of this ‘howto’ is quite interesting and dare I say facilitated by the medium, it has evolved into a really interesting debate with a variety of interpretations and opinions from all levels of academic understanding.
      When I was at University this kind of discussion was segregated from the mainstream public reserved for academics. Ive always abhorred academic elitism. Just because someone didnt read every book written on the subject or write a published paper on the subject doesnt mean that they cant explore the theory in a different way.
      It might prove incorrect but one must explore its what McLuhan did.

      1
  13. 31

    Like any good idea, it sparks a good debate.

    However, props to Jon Ashcroft, amazing artwork! :)

    1
  14. 32

    This is interesting!

    0
  15. 33

    John Mindiola III

    July 5, 2011 9:29 pm

    I think the media we use to consume/receive messages says more about us than the messages themselves.

    0
  16. 34

    Sounds like you’ve got a bit of an superiority complex Andrea (a failed/wannabe academic perhaps)

    1
  17. 35

    Gwendolyn Thompson

    July 6, 2011 12:02 pm

    I agree with Andrea to a point, that is to say that this article is a tip of an iceberg and should not be regarded as a complete truth or whole principal. This is not a peer reviewed scientific publication. Kind of like articles in Popular Science are the tip of the iceberg of what ever research the journalist is writing about. My immunologist hubby would go crazy over a Popular Science immunology article the same way Andrea has here. How ever I like to remind him that those of us not exposed to the field a tedium, can gain many thing from an article like this. The most important thing being interest in the subject matter. It is up to the reader to investigate the subject (or rest of the iceberg) on our own. I would say that Andrea’s energetic distain could put some of us off, where as the article encourages further study. Hmmm… same message different….

    3
  18. 36

    Love it :)

    0
  19. 37

    Interesting post!

    I wrote an article about “The Medium Is The Message” regarding confirmation/feedback messages using the colors green and red.
    http://www.aaronrikower.com/blog

    6
  20. 38

    the correct url is:
    http://www.aaronrikower.com/blog

    3
  21. 39

    ehm, A film is a ‘passive’ experience.

    0
  22. 40

    It’s so much more about the presentation than the content. This further proves that point.

    0
  23. 41

    Interesting points. Isn’t it about angle/perspective? For example, film may be both a passive and active medium – it provokes reaction. Passive in that we may not believe we are affected or cause affect to it. Active as we react with it (engage) with messages within the text/sub text and/or may even vote to disengage (ie not buy into it) and may have an impact on any resulting further projects (usually franchise/sequels).
    Consider why narratives are so important to advertising – this may suggest why the medium is considered the message. I prefer Roland Barthes approach (adapted from Walter Benjamin): the text loads the image, burdening it with a culture (etc).

    Yes, the well may be the invite (the promoter) to the event of getting water though, the question is really how do you get the water without the well? Do you need the well? Can you get the water anywhere else?

    0
  24. 42

    I would like to rephrase the title:

    “the interface is the message”

    0
  25. 43

    Like Mr McLuhan once said ‘the medium is the mesage’ but without a creative excution your medium will be useless. In this day and age people spend most of their time on the internet which makes it a stepping stone for marketers to reach a mass audience but without a great excution strategy the medium won’t achieve the intended goals.

    0

↑ Back to top