Penn Graphic Design S22 Reading Reflections
Please write a comment, reflection, or question about the reading at the appropriate section. (1 to 2 sentences max).
Week 2 –
I thought that this reading was very interesting in the way the McCluhan talks about how it is important to learn that media is not about the messages they carry but the way the medium itself affects society. I think this can relate to ideas of graphic design in the sense that maybe the design, layout or physical composition of what you read could be more important in explaining the message than the actual message itself.
The medium itself does hold immense power to revolutionize social scenes, embody innovations, and enable humans to construe messages or extend our “sense lives”, but I disagree with how the author constantly stresses the disregard for program and “content”. I believe they should be treated as a separate element but just as significant as their mediums because there are various examples that demonstrate how they do offer insights and hold the ability to create defining patterns of social change, act as channels for self-expression, or convey distinct messages.
McCluhan asks a thought-provoking question questioning how important the role of the message is in comparison to its medium, and I found his explanation through the example of electric light to be quite helpful. And while I understand and agree to a certain extent that the medium itself can have a great impact as it exists on its own, I still consider the medium to often be the enhancer of the message, and I would also expand McCluhan’s definiton of message.
Throughout the article, it was interesting to read about McCluhan’s perspective on how the medium itself is the message and how it bears a whole lot more meaning than some come to realize or acknowledge, and I also found it interesting how McCluhan incorporated numerous historical examples to support the claim as contextualized in the modern and digital world towards the beginning of the piece. Although the argument was quite compelling, I agree with Becky in the sense that the medium is simply another vein through which the message of a body of work can be delivered, and the medium itself is not the entire message as McCluhan claims it to be.
I thought it was interesting to see how he approaches the idea of medium, and focuses a lot on the speed with which messages are delivered as a measurement of impact; however, I would argue that his idea that the medium is the message largely depends on the scope of what a “message” can entail. For example, he suggests that the message of the movie was that it showed the transition from lineal connections to creative configurations. It is true that this may be the message of the medium, but I don’t think it is entirely encompassing to declare that the medium is the only message. As others have also said, content, among other elements of an entity, can hold its own message that should not be ignored.
I think that McCluhan’s assertion that the “medium is the message” is very strong and supported by many examples, but I feel that the emphasis he puts on the medium should also be put on the message. Both are important because both need to be understood in order to convey the meaning of something, and one cannot exist without the other.
I appreciated McCluhan’s discussion of medium vs. the message particularly the transition of a medium into a message (like he discussed with the electric light example). However, I do not fully agree with his statement that the “medium is the message”. I believe that the message is dictated by a combination of the creator and the audience’s interpretation of a manipulated medium.