Sunday, 3 November 2013

"The Medium Is The Message": It's Not Just What You Say...

Canadian philosopher and noted public figure Marshal Mcluhan coined the phrase 'The medium is the message' in his book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, published in 1964.

According to the entry in Wikipedia, "McLuhan proposes that a medium itself, not the content it carries, should be the focus of study."

What Does It Mean?

Here is one way to look at it:

It's your friend's birthday.  How do you plan to wish him a Happy Birthday?  

The message is 'Happy Birthday'.

The medium determines how good a friend that person is.

There are different ways (or types of medium) to wish him Happy Birthday.

* You send a Facebook greeting - you post on his wall 'Happy Birthday'.

* You send a text saying 'Happy Birthday'.

* You give him a phone call to wish him a Happy Birthday.

* You drive to his house and wish him 'Happy Birthday ' in person.

* You drive to his house with Adele.  You moved heaven and earth to get Adele to sing Happy Birthday in person to him!

A text birthday greeting - very casual friend.

An Adele birthday greeting - best friend of all time!

The message 'Happy Birthday' is the same - the medium is the important part.

Another Example

A man wants to wish his wife a Happy Anniversary.

If he merely sends a text wishing 'Happy Anniversary" - big trouble!

If he hires Rod Stewart to serenade her 'Happy Anniversary' - out-of-the-world reaction.

If he says 'Happy Anniversary' with a kiss and flowers - also a very happy medium.

The same concept works with a marriage proposal.  A marriage proposal on bended knee with an expensive diamond ring or proclaimed on a scoreboard at a Major League baseball game is a lot different than a text message saying "Will you marry me?".

What Is The Message?

Pay attention to the medium.  In business, how a message is conveyed is the same as what the message actually is.  It works the same in social media.  A Tweet is different than a blog entry which is different from a Google+ update.

And so on.

Of course, a lot has been written about 'The medium is the message' in much greater detail than in this blog.

This blog was merely a medium!

So, listen to the message but also pay attention to the medium.

Steven Ratnik

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