Reflection on McLuhan and Liu
by Kira Class
McLuhan, in his essay “The Medium is the Message”, urges the reader to examine the psychic and social consequences of a given medium. Further, McLuhan asks the reader to examine more closely communication mediums that are not always thought of as such, including (but not limited to):
- the electric light
With regards to the electric light, McLuhan states:
The electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were, unless it were used to spell out some verbal ad or name. This fact, characteristic of all media, means that the “content” of any medium is always another medium. The content of writing is speech, just as the written word is the content of print, and print is the content of the telegraph. (McLuhan 8)
As for cubism, McLuhan writes that by “seizing on instant total awareness, suddenly announced that medium is the message. (McLuhan 13)
McLuhan details several other types of unconventional, and more conventional, types of mediums to convey his overall fundamental message McLuhan which is that:
“It is the medium that shapes and controls the the scale and form of human association and action” (McLuhan 8)
In his essay, “Imagining the New Media Encounter”, Liu focuses on the concept of new media. Liu stresses the important of subjective, hisortical, and sociopolitcal factors on how we interpret new concepts of media (amongst other factors). Liu states:
Historical, socio-political, and subjective registers of media identity described above are not just neutral substrates…on which programs of determinism and resistance run. Instead, they are doped with human contingencies that switch, bend, refract, refocus, and otherwise mediate the very experience of media in ways that kink any easy plot of old to new, centralized to decentralized, or embodied to tele-virtual. (Liu)
Liu believes that “For better or worse, media changes us. We are changelings of media.” Further, Liu believes both that “The narratives of medium are reversible” and that human perception has a great deal of influence on the overall effects of the new media on society.
How are Liu and McLuhan’s theories applicable to media & mediums today?
Let’s consider the topical example of social media as a form of a medium and as a new media. Today, many people gain political or social knowledge through what appears on their social media feed–be it Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.
Certainly, with the Internet, (a powerful medium and form of new media in the 21st century) knowledge is more readily available than ever before. However, with mediums such as social media, as well as the medium of the Internet itself, the potential for misnformation and abuse of said mediums is more likely than it ever has been in the past. The medium of the Internet implies the open and widespread potential of information, the birth of new ideas and technology and a space for open communication and comaradery
As previously stated, within the Internet lurk many limitations with a high potential of abuse. One example of this is the spread of misinformation on social media or intentional deception through the vehicle of social, applied to current political trends.
Consider this article:
[How Fiction Becomes Fact On Social Media] (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/10/20/health/social-media-fake-news.html “”)
The article discusses es the ever-growing threat of the spread of misinformation, or intentional targeted campaigns of misinformation (generally as a political strategy, as seen with the 2016 United States Presidential Election).
Applying both McLuhan’s and Liu’s concepts can provide some insight. As previously stated, McLuhan wrote that “It is the medium that shapes and controls the the scale and form of human association and action.” (8). The medium of social media, powered be electricity (or the “communication device” of the electric light), does have its affordances. Social media allows for the quick and accessible spread of information. Social media can lay a foundation or be a home base for legitimate advocacy groups. Yet the medium of social media does have limitations as well. A lack of formaility or credibility is a major one. Social media controls the associations we make with the information we receive, along with how quick and accessible this information is.
Applying Liu’s theory to new media points to the tremendous amount of social change that has taken place through the vehicle of social media. For example, Twitter has been a driving force behind countless corporate decisions. Offensive actions that may well have been ignored are amplified with the use of social media, often resulting in genuine change. Liu argued that, “For better or worse, media changes us. We are changelings of media.” At the very least, public actions taken by corporations, as well as other public figures such as politicians and celebrities, are often driven by backlash on social media.
##Affordances/Limitatons of Markdown:
What about Markdown?
What are the affordances? What are the limitations?
- Helps protect files
- Takes up less memory
- A more straightforward way to learn basic coding principles
- Additional/substantial help with Markdown can be found by a simple Google search
- A relevant concept of “new media” today
- A valuable addition to an office skill set
- Limited accesibility to people without Apple products/laptops
- Not commonly taught as a tool of learning
- Somewhat of a learning curve involved
- Not a super widely used medium (in some fields of work/study)