In 1964 the book ‘understanding media’ was published by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor and philosopher, this book has not only helped him to become the most successful figure in the field, but his work also assisted the future generation to understand media and culture. Rather than understanding the content of the message, he decided to focus on the medium itself.
His most famous phrase “medium is the message” is still a challenging and radical idea in today’s society, the meaning behind this expression which was proposed by McLuhan is that media is the extension of ourselves, and it results in the range and scope of the message. Therefore, the medium has much greater impact than any message that is being delivered through that medium. The book illustrated the example of the electric light, which is compared to the pure information, it is not the illumination itself that changes the day and the night, but it is the medium.
He continuously argued that “it is only too typical that the ‘content’ of any medium blinds us to the character of the medium” (McLuhan 1964), he suggested that no messages or ideas can be fully separated from the medium through which they have been delivered, and we also have to consider the character factors of those medium, because those are the elements, along with the physical form, that reshaped the nature of the content. His idea is still relevant to newer technologies and internet, for instance the invention of social media technologies has dramatically changed the impact of communication, it has extended the scale of communication from simply physical communication to long distance human interaction, without social media our idea and words do not only need longer period to reach, the message will also gradually lose their effectivity and impact.
Web 2.0 and social media encourage the participation among people across the world, the idea of ‘global village’ of McLuhan, proclaimed in I962, has been verified. This theory become the most resonant distribution of modern society, “the technology and electronic media detribalised the world into a single global village” (Paddy 2007), where information is shared world-wide, and there is a mutual cultural influence. From the perspective of McLuhan, the global village has more positive effects on the world compared to its down sides. However, I do not fully agree with the theories that he proposed, in fact as an Asian student I have noticed that the oriental culture is being threatened by the western culture due to the globalization. However, nothing can reduce the contribution produced by McLuhan, his work is still and continually effective to our life and society.