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Part 1: Is The Medium The Message?

January 24, 2017

In 2007 I attend a conference in San Diego and became totally fascinated with one of the sessions on media and technology. Given today’s sociological and cultural climate, I began to think how some of these thoughts and ideas might explain recent events and behaviors.  At the time, I thought I was going to maybe learn about the newest and greatest projector and TV technologies.  Instead, I participated in a remarkable dialog on how we perceive information, how communications has changed over course of history, and how introducing new technologies often produce unanticipated results that reach far beyond the impact of the literal content.

I recall the presenter’s name was Shane Hipps, who wrote a fascinating book called The Hidden Power of Electronic Culture. Before becoming a pastor, Hipps was an executive for Porsche in the area of marketing and advertising. And although the discussion was directed primarily at church leaders, the ideas were a profound basis for how events and human behaviors can unexpectedly change each time a new technology or medium is introduced.  Much of the foundation principles and illustrations were taken from the writings of Marshall McLuhan, particularly from his 1964 book titled Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.

I remember there where several topics that were particularly eye-opening and that literally changed the way I view and assess my surroundings ever since.  Over the course of the next several posts, I’ll try to briefly explore each one and consider if they have any relevance whatsoever to today’s current events.  If you have an interest or background in communications, particularly electronic media, please feel free to share your thoughts and ideas. These will include:

  • Definition of Media (the plural of medium) – may not be what you think.
  • Oral and written cultures.
  • How a medium progresses/expands, saturates and implodes.
  • What happens when a new communication technology is introduced.
  • How we perceive and experience printed information vs. video information vs. other forms of technology.
  • The introduction of the printing press technology to the world.
  • Oral/tribal, Literate/private and the evolution of the “global village”


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