Marshall McLuhan famously said “The message is the medium.” In the essay (with the same name), he argues that we often overlook the role that different mediums play in shaping the way we approach the world, and in fact, that the medium often shapes the world far more than the content does.
McLuhan sees this transformation with the printing press, the electric light, TV, and on. While this was written in 1964, I’m certain he could write much much more about the way that the internet has shaped the world. The content available would be secondary to the medium of the internet.
McLuhan says that “the ‘content’ of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind” (207). Sometimes, the “content” will be another medium, as the content of a movie is often a play or a novel, which are both mediums as well.
I wonder if we’re in the midst of a shift. Growing up, anytime a movie was made of a book, people always would say that the book was so much better than the movie. However, recently, with regard to certain movies I have heard students say that they thought the movie was so much better than the book.
In looking at McLuhan’s ideas, I can’t help but wonder if the medium of the movie is now overtaking the medium of the novel/book in the minds of the youth, such that they find themselves identifying with the message of that medium more than that of the book. In turn, how long until the internet becomes the identifying medium, if it hasn’t already started?
I’m not necessarily looking to argue that one identifying medium is better than another (although I have my own thoughts). The question we have to concern ourselves with is how should we approach education differently in light of shifting identifying mediums? Additionally, as those who have differing identifying mediums than some students, what does it mean for us to think in those mediums?