Medium = Message

“The Medium is the Message”

This paradoxical notion put forward by Marshal McLuhan in Understanding Media: the Extensions of man (1964) certainly made me perplexed when I was introduced to it earlier this week. After all, don’t we simply just use media in order to convey our own messages? Nowadays the use of many different media platforms has become a distinct part of daily communication. We’re using these media to convey what we want, and it’s obvious that we rely on these technologies in order to portray our perspective

However, Mark Federman’s article, What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message? claims that we must look beyond the “conventional understanding” of what the ‘medium’ and the ‘message’ really are. He expands McLuhan’s definition that a medium is “any extension of ourselves,” explaining that media provides us with more capability of generating and sending a message (Federman, 2004)

“The content of a medium is almost in all cases, is another distinct medium itself”- (Federman, 2004)

The medium therefore shapes the content of the message it is sending and in turn affects how we interpret and interact with this message. We can even look at language itself as a medium as it extends our ideas. This language can be extended even further via various media forms (Federman, 2004).

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Let’s apply McLuhan’s idea to a specific type of media platform, YouTube for example. This article, Study: Viewers turning to YouTube as a news source,
examines the convergent nature of this media. Since the site’s launch in February 2005 (YouTube, 2013), the basic purpose of this platform has changed, therefore altering the messages sent through videos that are uploaded. Now, as the article quotes Amy Mitchell, deputy director of the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, “There’s a new form of video journalism on this platform.” Therefore as new media emerges and becomes more common, as “Over 800 million unique users visit YouTube each month” (YouTube, 2013), the ways in which the audience responds to it also changes.

We are all now undertaking a more participatory culture when it comes to media platforms, as explained by Henry Jenkins in Worship at the Altar of Convergence (2006). We have become active users who contribute to content as well as interact with it. It has come to my attention that as media is converging our messages can travel across multiple platforms and be received in so many different ways. A straightforward method of communication is no longer evident in today’s society. This is further explored in the following video…

Communication is complex. For example, after my ritualistic viewing of Home & Away last week I noted the advertisement at the end of each episode asking us to use the new platform Fango to “chat, vote and win.” It ultimately promised me that my television experience could be enhanced through simultaneous the use of another platform.

“Convergence involves both a change in the way media is produced  and a change in the way media is consumed.” (‘Worship at the Alar of Convergence’, 2006, p 16)

So it’s certainly evident that in this day and age the type of media and how we use it informs the way we interpret the message. Our response to this, will ultimately result in the creation of a new message that is able to be delivered in multiple ways. So the next time you watch a video on YouTube, send a text message or use any alternative media source, consider the ways you react, I know I certainly will.

Au revoir my friends,

Jasmine

Citations:

Federman, M. (2004) What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? http://individual.utoronto.ca/markfederman/MeaningTheMediumistheMessage.pdf

Jenkins, H. (2006). “Worship at the altar of convergence”: A new paradigm for understanding media change. In H. Jenkins, Convergence culture: Where old and new media collide (pp 1-4, 9, 16). New York: New York University Press. http://www.nyupress.org/webchapters/0814742815intro.pdf

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