This week’s reading, Marshall McLuhan’s The Medium is the Message, was a very interesting way of looking at communications and media as a whole. When McLuhan explains that his message, “the medium is the message”, means that it’s the medium that “shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action”.  He also talks about how the automation of things starts to eliminate jobs, and on the other hand, also creates new roles for those people that had recently lost their other jobs. It seems that he is arguing that for every job that technology/automation takes away, another job is made up to replace it.
McLuhan also makes a point that forms of communication are simply limited to the press, radio, etc. It comes in the form of things as simple as electric light. He argued that people don’t seem to notice it as a medium because they don’t consider it to have “content”. His argument continues in an example he gives that refers to this electricity only meaning something if it spells out a brand name. But the message is still written in the form of the electricity, which makes the electricity a medium. The way that this point had sparked a light bulb to me (hah, get it…ok sorry), was comparing it to mediums in art. A pencil may not be the art, but it’s considered a medium because it allows the artist to translate their thought onto paper, canvas, etc. This places the pencil in a high state of importance, just like the ability electricity has to create these massive signs that are even quicker at translating messages than the print or radio.
I can understand why people thought that he was eccentric in his interpretations of what communication is, but I also agree with him that electricity is also a medium, and one that carries a message. I honestly encounter an electric sign every day, especially with my morning and afternoon commutes too and from school and work, and I completely agree that the electricity is getting messages like “Use yah blinkah” and “Don’t text and drive,” to me much faster, and continually, than than the radio and television. It’s harder for me to understand how people don’t consider electricity a form of communication, after reading his argument.
On page eleven of his analysis on mediums of media and their messages, he quotes a General David Sarnoff whom stresses that the it is the way in which we use something that determines its value and meaning, and that the actual object has no ‘content’.  This goes exactly against what McLuhan had said earlier, referring to his argument that the mediums do count as media and are not defined by whether or not they have ‘content’. He continues to argues, unless I am completely misinterpreting this wrong (to which I am very sorry), that Sarnoff completely misses the concept that technology can do other things other than simply add onto what we already are. To this I think he is talking about how technology seems to be simply an extension of what we are. It’s not that we are changing over much, but it’s the way in which technology changes with us that matter. What I’ve notice technology to do is not simply add onto what we do, but really change it. It has changed the things children are doing simply within the past decade. When I was younger, I didn’t have a lot of video games to play with, so I’d be outside. Now, all my little brother does is play video games. The medium of these video games have changed us, it’s not just the way in which we interpret them, but its the actual medium of itself that did so.
All in all, I found his argument to be very wordy and confusing. I did my best to translate it into something that is better easily understood.
 Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media (England; Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited, 1964) 9.
 McLuhan, Understanding Media, 9.
 McLuhan, Understanding Media, 11.