Macabe

🪶 Language in a new medium

Generally speaking, people are good at gaging one another during conversation. Awareness of the subtleties and nuances take time to develop. We learn them as we age, as we have conversations that span many topics and emotions, and as we watch others.

I mention this in order to understand how we see these things in the digital medium. What are the subtleties we are learning to pick up on? What are some events that have caused us to learn them?

When I say we - I am talking about the people who are here. Here online. We continuously learn to decipher others on this new behavioral landscape we venture to more and more. To work, learn, communicate, and collaborate with both people and machines. A global village perhaps?

A mutual of mine mentioned the philosopher Marshall McLuhan, who coined the phrase, "the medium is the message." McLuhan was particularly entranced with the medium of the printing press, and ideated that something resembling a global village would emerge due to the interconnection made possible by various forms of media. Having passed in 1980, I could only imagine what he'd say about the internet if he were with us today.

The medium is the message

What does it mean?

When McLuhan said this, he was trying to say that when it comes to communication, the communication medium should be the focus of study, not the message itself. In other words, I could call you and say "I love you", I could write you a letter that says "I love you", and I could text you a message that says "I love you." They all say the same thing, but the communication medium is what really matters. He was an incredible mind that gave us thoughts and theories that mesmerizes most. The following is from his book The Gutenberg Galaxy.

[I]f a new technology extends one or more of our senses outside us into the social world, then new ratios among all of our senses will occur in that particular culture. It is comparable to what happens when a new note is added to a melody. And when the sense ratios alter in any culture then what had appeared lucid before may suddenly become opaque, and what had been vague or opaque will become translucent.1

I have no data to back this up, but we are growing and maturing with this relatively new digital media landscape. My reasoning rests in our ability to learn from the past. As time goes on, we have more and more examples of charlatan-like, manipulative, and divisive behavior in this medium. I remain optimistic in our ability to navigate and overcome bad-actors as we have for the span of time.

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_McLuhan

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