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“The medium is the message.” -Marshall McLuhan.

The first step to discovering what the correlation is between medium and message is accepting the fact that there is a relationship between medium and message. In his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, McLuhan takes a provocative, philosophic approach to this issue. McLuhan proposed this idea in the 1960s and argued that the nature of the medium and media we engage with impacts the meaning or message of the information and content passed through the medium.

For example, let’s take a look at a person who works with machines for their job, a job that used to be done without machinery. The machinery the person uses enables the job to be done more efficiently, but less intimacy is needed for the job than in preceding generations. What is the effect of this? The worker could find less of a connection and less meaning in their actions because of this lack of intimacy.

In this situation, the medium is the automated job. The message is a degradation of meaning for the job due to the lack of meaningful proximity and action while doing the job.

Now, this can be applied to a great deal of things. Writing as a medium is completely different than speech as a medium. What can writing do that speech can’t? What can speech do that writing can’t? It would be near impossible to list every single difference and advantage that reading and writing have over the other and the different message implications that they have. And that’s what makes this so difficult.

The impact of a medium varies by the nature of the participant and the medium itself.

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October 20, 2023 3:28 pm

Hmmm, I have never thought about the importance of the medium so much. I think that in some situations the medium has a larger message than the art itself. For example this article has a list of art with strange mediums.

October 20, 2023 3:19 pm

WOW! and that’s an acronym for wow oh wow. I agree that how intimate you are to your work has a profound effect on a job. However, I would also argue that when you change the medium you undoubtedly change the meaning at least slightly. Another thought experiment you may be interested in Paperclip theory. It’s unrelated but similar style of thinking.

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