In class, we have talked about so many mediums and how they relay information- newspapers, radios, televisions, and telegraphs are all examples of mediums that serve a similar purpose. While reading this passage by Marshall McLuhan, I thought about a random quote that has been said a few times throughout this course-“paper is a technology”. I think I thought about that because it relates to how we perceive things, even things that we use every day-I use paper all the time, but never really thought of it as a technology. Similarly, I use different mediums of communication all the time and do not really think about the medium itself and how that is altering or changing my perception. One of McLuhan’s points is that it does not matter what specifics are used when discussing objects, to use his example it doesn’t matter if it’s “cornflakes or Cadillacs”, or if a train operated in tropical or cold weather, what matters and what effects people is the medium with which these things are put together and delivered to us-in these examples, he is talking about machines making these things and the effect that has.
While reading, I honestly got completely lost when he started talking about the electric light and how it has no content, though is a medium in more than one way. I think McLuhan is drawing attention to the fact that things like electric lights are not seen as a communication medium because it is not viewed as a traditional communication medium, and maybe we should start thinking more “out side the box” with regards to how we perceive things-which goes back to my earlier comparison to how paper is a technology. The overall point of “the medium is the message” seems to me to be that we should value the medium, no matter what it is, and acknowledge that especially for media and communications, it has an impact on how we interact with information even if it may seem like it does not.
I think his arguments fit in nicely with what we are learning about and how we are learning about media and communications. For me, this class has made me think differently about different methods of communication and this reading has also given me a lot to ponder in terms of where communication can go from here, which I think is really a cool idea. With regards to this reading holding up to history, I think it has a lot of merit in terms of media and communications. For example, you could get a telegram with information and you can listen to the same exact information on the radio. Nothing has changed in terms of the actual content, but because the mediums with which you got the information have changed. your perception of it could have-and I think that also goes along with “the medium is the message”, and the idea that the medium itself also impacts whatever information it is relaying. Because ways of communication have changed so much throughout history-some in a short time span-I think that has a historical impact that is worth noting, and changed how I will think about mediums of communication. Although I think this article was hard to get through in a lot of ways, I do see where the author is coming from, though I also can see how some, myself included, are like “huh?”. While reading, I also thought about if there is a lot for importance to studying how the medium is the message and the impact that can have on how consumers deal with information-is it really super important to day to day life? Maybe. I almost wish I read this/thought about it in the beginning of the semester, but it was also nice to wrap up with it and definitely gave me a lot to think about.