Week 3


Does the reading this on a computer change the message that is being sent?  Perhaps if this were a book or newspaper the information being conveyed would interpreted differently.  Maybe if this were on a billboard or canvas the message would seem more profound.  What if the font were different? Or color? Or size? There are a number of factors that play a part in how an intended message is received.

If someone writes in all cap letters is the message changed?  Marshall McLuhan would probably say yes.  Sensory input is influenced by the very instruments that convey the stimulus (McLuhan, 1967).  All caps email communication is likely to have a different impact than an all caps book title, even if it’s all the same words.  Interpretation of the message is impacted by mediums which produce the stimulus, whether its a sound, image, smell, taste or feel. 
The devices that allow us to experience sensation beyond limitations are extensions of these senses (McLuhan, 1967).  Billboards are an extension of the eyes; radio stations an extension of ears; deodorizers an extension of nose; haptic devices an extension of skin, and molecular gastronomy an extension of the tongue.  Perhaps more than allowing the world come to us, technology allows us to go into the world.  We like for those extensions to feel as familiar as the previous extension (McLuhan, 1967).  Therefore, cellphones work similar to rotary phones; IBM Thinkbooks have the same keyboard as an IBM Selectric; iPod ear buds are similar to Sony Walkman headphones.  The technology changes, but the need to feel comfortable with it remains the same.

Medium of transmission plays a role in the interpretation of messages.  Different media impacts perception in varying ways.  The goal of new media is transmit information in a similar way to it’s predecessor because there is a level of comfort in the familiar (McLuhan, 1967).  McLuhan would likely interpret our current state of technology as a way to bring our increasingly globalized world back to an intimate tribal feeling.


McLuhan, M., Fiore, Q.  (1967). The Medium is the Massage.   San Francisco: Hardwired.




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