Being Cryptic.

by maddicook

My initial reaction to lecture two was – ‘wat da?’  However as we continued to analyse Marshall McLuhan’s notion, “The Medium is the Message”, I began to recover some of my intellect. In his explanation, McLuhan does not refer to the original definitions of both words ‘medium’ and ‘message’. He suggests that a medium is “any extension of ourselves”, and that a message is “the change, scale, pace or patterns of behaviour” (McLuhan, M 1964).

McLuhan suggests that the medium through which a message is experienced moulds the user’s perception of the message. Furthering this suggestion, we come to see that a medium can in fact, be the message itself; perhaps conveying content that is not specifically implied in the message (Federman, M 2004). Put in simpler terms my Gen-Y companions – when my mother asks me to let her know what I am up I have to make a decision. Do I :

a) call her – sending the cryptic message that I am up for a lengthy chat,

or b) text her a short message – hinting that I am either busy or not in the mood for a chat.

Although my mum usually takes the matter into her own hands, the point is that it isn’t what I’m saying that sends the only message, but the medium in which I’m saying it!

After grasping this wordy concept, we can extend the meaning of it towards other forms of media.By looking at how the medium changes, we see that so too does the message being received from these media platforms. The papyrus scroll only permits sequential access; in comparison, the scroll’s successor, the book, allows random access which grants various interpretations and understanding. These new, succeeding media platforms not only allow new types of writing but also new types of reading. Although this has been happening for centuries, this, to me, seems like a foreign concept due to the ease that this transformation happens. Another example would in fact be an example of McLuhan’s concept of a “global village”. The internet provides a field in which mass media can accommodate a ‘global event’ such as the ‘birth’ of the Biebs/JB/Justine Bieber (option to cringe here)(Jenkins, H. 2003). Without the internet would Bieber really exist? It is my understanding that he was discovered on Youtube and then spread and shared across the web like wildfire (do correct me if I’m wrong, I’m no expert on the issue).

As McLuhan discovered, if we can detect that the new medium brings along effects that may be destructive to our society or culture (such as the birth of JB, no offence Bieber fans, my opinion only), then we may have the opportunity to change or influence the new medium before it’s too late. Of course, with our media growing into an ever-changing, ever-sharing and unpredictable dynamic, I ask you – do you see a world becoming too uncontrollable and unforeseeable for even McLuhan and his notion? Are we crossing boarders into a media territory where images/videos/posts/tweets cannot be controlled or posted without limitations?