"The Media is the Message" - The Irony Behind Google's Celebration of Marshall McLuhan


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Ironically, halfway through the article I had the thought the author is misinterpreting what McLuhan was trying to say. While being in a state of narcissistic hypnosis no doubt exascerbates modern political apathy, I don’t think constricting the limits of the message by forcing it through a specific medium is a bad thing. In tabletop RPGs veteran players develop preferences among the systems they use (DND, Pathfinder, Shadowrun, Call of Cthulhu etc) based on the mechanics as much as the setting - the mechanics being part of the “medium” and enabling their own subjective “fun”.

I don’t think McLuhen or this author were saying it’s a bad thing, more that it should be understood that the way media comes out is inherently bound up in the medium through which it is presented.
Recognising how the message is limited, is a really important part of interpreting the message.

I was in some really interesting discussions recently, with a bunch of broadcast and TV professionals, trying to understand how virtual reality is supposed to work for them. They were so accustomed to the linear narrative style of media construction in film, TV and other broadcast mediums, that when it comes to VR production, they can’t stop themselves from being concerned about how to get the VR consumer to pay attention to the thing the director wants them to look at, when the whole point of VR is that the user can go and look wherever them damned well please. They struggled to get past the idea that the very structure of the message has to change with the new medium.

Personally, I expect the eventual mass scale winners will treat VR more like a game environment than a movie environment, and let the users engage freely within the medium. They will create an interesting place and consumers will occupy it and do what they want. They just need to make it an interesting place to occupy, and then they will have customers.

So many mediums today.