The Medium is the Message

Remarks on The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan

In The medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan explores the idea: “operational and practical fact, the medium is the message.” At first, I wasn’t too clear of what McLuhan meant by “The Medium is the Message.” As I kept reading, McLuhan sheds light into the subject that “personal and social consequences of any medium – that is, of any extension of ourselves – result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves or by any new technology.”

In taking the consideration of the McLuhan’s definition, today we take some the technological advancements as daily routine in our lives. An example presented was the “electric light.” We may think the electric light is just a guide or instrument to help us to see better in places. Its actually the first step of advancements in our lives. In other words, it helps us shape who we are and makes dig deeper in our thoughts….this how advancements in humans come about. Another example is the automotive. To most of us, it just plain transportation or “extension” of our legs. When you think in McLuhan’s terms, it enables us to achieve more objectives in life with the ability to explore outside our safety area. This can be a positive spin or negative depending how you want to persuade it.

In the rest of text, McLuhan uses historical quotes from various authors to demonstrate the ways in which new media change the perceptions of societies, with specific focus on the form of each medium.

To take in consideration of the other 2 readings- “Community in Cyberspace,” chapter 18, and conclusion of Winston, media remediation was the main perception of the texts. I agree with them that the Internet is just enhancement of what has been created already. Were not replacing old technological advancements, were expanding capabilities and make better use of it. Winston wonderfully sums it in one phrase with technological advancement in our society: “plies of debris” from previous technology. I couldn’t said better myself!

On the other hand, I want to mention that without the “plies of deris” or media remediation, we couldn’t have utilized the internet. All ideas need to start from some base and improve upon it. In today world, we start seeing the convergence of phone, video, and data, with the help of the internet, as one media in house. With these three power tools, it enables to simplify our lives (suppose to) and to be more informed what is going with the rest of the world.   

Referring back to the McLuhan reading, there is relation with “Community in Cyberspace,” and Winston. McLuhan puts as technology is extension of our lives. Were taking a technological deceive to make better use our lives. It doesn’t change who we are, its just, as the other two texts put it, enhancement of we already had. Our legs are extensions to move around and the automobile is just enhancement of it. Its interesting fact how these three articles word things differently, but the idea is in a similar fashion.

As final thought, McLuhan is trying to say simply: technology influenced individuals and their relations with one another in communities. As McLuhan would like to put it “extensions” of what we already have. In our present time – plastic surgery is one of the hottest trends among people who are self conscious about their image. Television, internet, malls, and magazines (also technologies) help push this perception that we have to look like them in order to fit in. For plastic surgery, we already have the base (eyes, noise, etc.) or might be added on “plies of debris,” whatever the procedure is…were simply making as extension or remediation of our body. Yes, this might be a weird comparison, buts true when you think of it.   

It’s merely interesting to see how these three readings talk about technologies and really sheds some interesting perspectives. No matter how pervasive author is, one has the right to think new technology (i.e. internet) is something totally new or just remediation.

David Cho

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