Marshall McLuhan has always engaged on how the media has influenced societies, through globalisation and subliminal messaging, hence, his theory behind the medium being a message.
McLuhan basically believes that as consumers we are merely looking at the obvious; we look at whats in front of us rather than reading between the lines so to speak. He is very meticulous with how he explains the idea of a ‘message’; he suggests that it is ‘change of scale or pace or pattern’ when a new invention/innovation ‘introduces into human affairs’. Mark Freeman, who researches into McLuhan’s work, gives a more basic perspective into his theory, as a consumer you have to look at it like a production, so, in regard to a theatre production in the city, the actual way the show is produced, or what the storyline is is not the main message which we are all instantly lead to believe. What the message McLuhan would be looking at is how the theatre effects the tourism in that area.
This enables us to almost predict how it is going to progress and effect our future communities, hence why McLuhan’s work is still relevant despite most his research being based from the 1970s. If we want to continue to understand the media and how it is progressing we need to look at the reaction and change something can cause rather than the actual content presented in plain eye sight. As he suggests, it is about how the habit of something influences our understanding and thinking, making us less passive.
It is interesting how much he bases his theory on technology and products themselves rather than looking at a human ability to see different perspective in things. It is interesting that he suggests ‘products of modern science are not themselves good or bad; it’s the way they are used that determines their value’. He highlights how they can be influenced by social conventions but still emphasises how products are the way we are continuing to develop in the media world. This links into David Humes theory that ideas and products follow others for no reason, setting a trend in a way. It is evident that nothing follows unless there is change which can be linked to the development in technological devices in this very day and age.
I do believe that his theory is very relevant still, especially with the growth of the internet. Any development creates a new message which enables a new medium. His theory will always live on as long as the social and technological continue to expand.
It is quite evident that is neglects the power of the consumers. Although a vast majority do just get fed information from conglomerates, they interpret everything differently and I do believe that his research into a very valuable theory avoids giving credit to the people. Messages can interpreted in more than one way and not just from the technological view.
McLuhan, M. (2006), ‘Understanding Media’, in: Durham, M.G. & D. Kellner (2006), Adventures in Media and Cultural Studies, Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp.107-116.