When I first started reading the medium is the message written by Marshall McLuhan, I was somewhat confused. The way that he was words and compares things to me was very confusing but after reading it a few more times, the main points of his argument started to become clear. McLuhan states that with each invention or innovation there are clear benefits and disadvantages. However, what we don’t pay attention to is the unattended consequences that happen when the invention is created, and these can last years to come. One example that helped me understand the medium is the message is the idea of theater production. If you apply the medium is the message concept to this theater production is not about music, actors, and entertainment but how now theater is now a place for tourism. Although tourism was not intended, it is something that has evolved from this invention. Another point that McLuhan makes is that the medium is shaped and influenced by human interaction. For example, the reason why movies have become so popular is because of how drawn and attracted society is to them.
I believe that this concept can be seen throughout the history that we have studied in this course. Pertaining to newspapers, what is important is not only the content but also the medium that is newspapers. Newspapers have made communication easier, and have perhaps over the years allowed people to think and analyze current events, and have also allowed people to get involved with their community and country. Now, when newspapers were being created the intention was to spread news, but it had some unintended benefits. When looking at a radio as a medium it is easy to see that it created a new market such as radio shows, and radio hosts. Another example of this could be that the radio had created new family traditions such as sitting and listening to the radio at nighttime, and it is so much more than the content that it holds. When looking at movies and television it can be compared to the radio and the unattended consequences such as the film industry, the creation of places such as Hollywood, and the creation of a new social event.
After reading this chapter, it helped me really understand how important the history of media and communications is, and how it can tell us a story. One of the main points that McLuhan argues is to not pay attention to the content but what holds it, which has changed society arguably just as much as the content within these mediums. Without the invention of the newspaper, perhaps different newspaper printing companies would not have been created, and in the case of letters and cards, Hallmark may have never been created. The medium of radio has allowed people to have entertainment within their own homes, instead of going out with friends. Television and movies has transformed the meaning of time and lightning by being able to project something on to a screen, and created a culture of pop stars and celebrities.
Overall, I am glad that I read this chapter. It helped me understand the history of media and communications better and I enjoyed how McLuhan thought about media and communications in a unique way, and opened my mind to the bigger picture.