What Did Mcluhan Mean When He Said That The Medium Is The Message?

1336 Words Oct 20th, 2016 6 Pages
What did McLuhan mean when he said that ‘the medium is the message’?
Is this idea any use in understanding contemporary mass media?

When McLuhan said ‘the medium is the message’, he meant that the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs (McLuhan, 1964), insisting that when trying to understand the influence of media on human senses, people should focus on the properties of media rather than the messages they carry (Scannell, 2007).

His idea put an emphasize on the technological characters of media, acknowledging that every technological breakthrough of communication has all played a vital role in enlarging the scope of human cognition and changing the habits of human activities. He used the electric light bulb to illustrate the impact, saying that a light bulb has no content, or its content is whatever activity it casts its light upon, but no matter what the content is, the bulb helps expand the time-space scope of human activity(McLuhan, 1964), the same way as a medium.

However, when trying to understand contemporary mass media, the influence and the essence, we should look not only at the medium but the massage as well, especially at a time when the content has become increasingly more dominant in determining the influence of any medium today. The reasons are as follows:

First, in the new media era today, when platforms exceed the content, push media became pull media (Livingstone and Das,…

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