During this module, by reading ‘The Medium is the Message’ and chapter 5 from Paddy Scannell’s book, I studied the main media ideas of great Canadian minds: Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis.
The core concept of McLuhan is the notion that the development of human society is determined primarily by the development of means of communication, with the main impact being made not by the semantic content of communication but rather by its principles of organization, internal structure.
I find very interesting the statement from McLuhan’s “Gutenberg Galaxy” that modern print culture is characterized by the primacy of vision (visualization), analytic perception and rationality. He stated that before the era of writing and printing, the audio-tactile society of the past, when the main communication sense was hearing and mythological, emotional, simultaneous perception prevailed, the response to an oral message was replaced by homogeneity, uniformity and reproducibility of printed/written information. Thus, modern perception of information started from the development of alphabets and typography. Therefore, the aforementioned rationalization and visualization move other senses of media information to the unconscious part of our minds.
For me, one of the most interesting and prominent idea of McLuhan was also his concept of “hot” and “cold” media. Hot media – is a media that extends the one and the only feeling to the level of “high certainty”. Hot types of media are characterized by a low degree of audience participation and the cold one’s – with the high degree of its participation, or with such that raise it.
In my opinion, the idea behind the “medium is a message” by Marshall McLuhan is that new types of media transform the experiences of individuals and society, and in the end, the media type is more important than the actual content, which this media type transmits.
It is also important to highlight another idea McLuhan’s – “global village”. It represents the new form of social organization, which will arise when global digital media will connect the entire planet to one big social system.
One the other hand, the key idea of Harold Innis is the influence on public consciousness of available means of communications. That is, I find it that according to Innis, different media have control over social consciousness and social organization of society, which is very true nowadays. Harold Innis also tried to see the causes of conflict in the clash of different media.
Harold Innis had the following main components of his theory:
- Change of material carriers of communication leads to significant changes, for example, papyrus or paper made the spread of information easier;
- Media provides connectivity in both space and time;
- Bureaucracy is focused on communication in space, religion – in communication in time;
- Civilizations differ by variants of monopolies on knowledge.
I, personally, find certain elements of approaches of Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis to be quite similar:
- Interest not on the structure of communication but rather on its process;
- Attention to the impact of communication;
- Emphasis on the technology of communication, that is on the media.