The Medium is the Message

When it comes to social media I think that people have forgotten, or never knew, the lessons of Marshall McLuhan. The world is shaped not so much by the content that a particular medium carries, but by the medium itself, what it can do, and how it is utilized. The medium is the message. We don’t lack reliable sources of information on the internet; we’ve just turned it into a repository for cat pictures, pornography, and political echo chambers.

To deviate a bit from what McLuhan intended, the choices creative people make regarding the media we use becomes part of the statement we’re making with our creations. There are different possibilities within each medium, they are perceived differently, and they will have different end users. By extension, the same can be said for components of media like genre, format, and the venue they’re released through.

The way that I do business is part of the point that I’m trying to make. There are reasons why I work in roleplaying games, rather than video games or straight-up fiction. I have a lot of reasons why I choose to do a zine, rather than writing a long-form blog. A lot of thought went into doing this blog, rather than posting notes on Facebook or utilizing concise tweetstorms.

I understand that sometimes this goes against expectation. My choices affect the number of potential consumers of my media. There’s a definite impact on my revenue. But it’s all part of my creative expression. Sometimes I make commercial choices, and other time I make artistic ones.

I also understand that sometimes this is a tree-falls-in-the-woods situation. If I make a creative choice and no one gets the impetus behind that creative choice, does it matter? Well, yes, it matters to me. We’re getting into John Dewey territory here, where art is not complete until it has been experienced by someone other than the artist. If you don’t get my references, is the piece successful? To put a bow on this, I would say yes, because you’ve still experienced it via the medium that I selected, and the medium is the message.

One thought on “The Medium is the Message

  1. It’s more fun when you understand how the creator whose work you are looking at is thinking. Take this post. As soon as I saw the title “The Medium is the Message” I knew it would involve Marshall McLuhan, ‘cos I also refer to him in my teaching… when I am teaching undergraduates how to do a business presentation I tell them to invert McLuhan as the message is the important thing, not the medium!

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