The Medium theory focuses on the early study of Innis and McLuhan’s view of the Media in terms of Communication and Technology. Technology is categorised as an old tool of communication and it is what we do with the technology that matters. Stories about technology plays a significant role in our understanding of ourselves and our common history. A distinctive approach carried by Innis’ (1940) established modern technology still linked to industrialisation and mass production. Indeed, the concept of Cultural commodities enabled us to understand the freedom of exchanging goods; therefore exchanging information. However, different mediums of the media has their own implication of controlling time and space for the audiences to reach out.
Innis’ called this The Bias of Communication. In the early 1920’s to 1940’s, the people lived in a oral society where time-biased and space-biased medium was the only sources of communication. For example, speech is a time-biased medium and light-written messages i.e. a scroll— a portable way of transferring messages. Innis critically analysed the civilisation and empire of The Bias of Communication. Critical theorists had claims that civilisation of communication were recognised but was looked down due to ‘internal contradictions’; the implications of communication.
Television has no place in our contemporary society today due to new generation of audiences shifting towards electronic mediums. Indeed, literacy had empowered people to learn how to read and write in the past but now— audiences have the power to control of communication technologies. Hence it is a matter of what they can do with technology and what purpose they use it for.
McLuhan later established the theory of The Medium is the Message, following Innis’ study of The Bias of Communication. He was the first to analyse the media; quoting “Electronic media retribalize (resocialize) the world into a single global village.” The uses of social media sites i.e Facebook, surrounds active participants into a social community group where the properties and characteristics of a medium is made durable. Contemporary examples of online advertising shared amongst social platforms enables the audiences to understand that the medium is the meaning. Then the theory is still relevant to today’s society.
Yet McLuhan’s technological determinism can be used to criticised that Innis theory of The Biased of Communication may be a described as a fluid theory. Oral cultures are now seen as old and outdated uses of communication due to advanced technology taking over. The Internet of Things also plays a distinct role in our understanding of technology, i.e. smart wearables like iWatch helps improve our health.
Some critics state that robots could be taking over the world; as artificial power could control over mankind. Donna Haraway (1991) uses the term Cyborg, as she quotes, “We’re inside of what we make and it’s inside of us.” (Kunzru, 1997)
The medium and content are the message— machines and mankind may sooner or later be identical, controlling of the power of communication of the medium to consumers.
Scannell, P. (2007). Medium and Communication. London. Sage. ‘Chapter 5: Communication and Technology
Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women. Free Association Books