McLuhan in the 21st century.

During my time at university so far, there are a few concepts and ideas that manage to overlap faculties and provide a framework for various aspects of work and life.  One of these is ‘don’t buy coffee from Panizzi’.  The other is Marshall McLuhan’s theory that ‘the medium is the message’.  But what is it really?  McLuhan used the term to describe how the way in which we communicate information (the medium) has changed and evolved with us, and the method with which we share messages is a reflection of the times in which it is shared.  These changes, along with the actual information being shared, is what makes up the message McLuhan speaks of.

In his article, of course, he was referring to the shift from the early oral communication employed by cavemen, to the written newspapers of the 1960’s.  His theories predicted the rise of an age of digital communication, but even he could not have predicted the extent to which his ideas would ring true in the 21st century.  His “global village” concept; that is, the interconnectedness of the world through media, is truly alive and growing through the world wide web.

And as to the effect this has on us, the consumers and receivers of the message?  Well, we are not just consumers anymore, but active participants and creators of messages – creating playlists and making memes are a direct result of this.  Does this mean Marshall McLuhan’s controversial ideas, penned in the 1960’s, actually predicted and encourage the creation of memes?  I believe so.

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