Before McLuhan’s theory, people always think a medium is a simple tool for the carrier of loading message, which cannot represent the meaning. But after the theory of him, he thought a medium affects society in which it plays a role not only by the content delivered over the medium but also by the characteristics of the medium itself(McLuhan,2006).
The basic example from the reading are, the content of writing is speech, written word is the content of print(McLuhan,2006). When you the same ‘content’ through a different medium. Such as when you use Twitter or TV to read the news when you need to understand the ‘content’, then it must go through another medium. The lower level of News is print media, the way it broadcast inheritance the liner mode of print media, this form of media has serious, which can show the authenticity. The lower level of Twitter is a word, which makes it close to interpersonal communication, making the promotion of its credibility, this is why we like to trust the rumour on Twitter. However, this can explain the reason why a same ‘content’ on different medium effect difference opinions, then understand the important of ‘content’ for medium, which is ‘medium is message’.
In the reading, McLuhan uses the example of electric light for an analogy. He thought bulb can clearly explain ‘medium of message’. Although electric light does not have the content like tv and newspaper, but it’s being used for light space. Therefore, electric light as a medium changed human society. Similarly, when there’s a heinous crime be reported on TV, the content is not the news story but to transfer the news to people who are watching TV.
From the macro perspective to understand McLuhan’s theory ‘medium of message ’, it is said medium actually is a message from a message. McLuhan’s theory in the era absent of internet seems unrealistic when the wheel of time. However, after 50 years rolling forward into mobile internet. The definition of ‘medium of message ’ seemingly has been confirmed years before.
In fact, if there’re no media, the spread of media wouldn’t exist. The medium is not only a tool for communication but also the way of organisational knowledge. For example, the computer, which is used as a medium, but same time it also contains a lot of ‘message’, and these ‘message’ maybe changes the world. ‘medium is message’ also have relevant of philosophy technology, which means ‘technology change life’. The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. In the book ‘Understanding Media’ McLuhan talked about the railway, although it did not introduce movement or a new transportation way or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure.(McLuhan,1964). Through the historical of mankind, it does have the trend like this, each time the development of science and technology or the change of the media will affect people’s behaviour and the world. “The medium is the message” because it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.” (McLuhan,1964)
1.McLuhan, M. (2006), ‘Understanding Media’, in: Durham, M.G. & D. Kellner (2006), Adventures in Media and Cultural Studies, Malden, MA: Blackwell, pp.107-116,
2.McLuhan, M. (1964). Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. London: Routledge.