I must say that these two passages (The Galaxy Reconfigured and The Medium is the Message both by Marshall McLuhan) were so totally different to me that I have no idea how the same person wrote them. The first one had so many different quotations from people I had never heard of, I felt like I was not gettign many new ideas. He was simply taking other people’s words and kind of giving you a background maybe of what he was saying? It seemed much less ingenuis than the second passage.
However, there were a couple parts of the first passage that I highlighted and I’d like to just discuss my thoughts on those real quick. First of all, “Imagination is that ratio among the perceptions and faculties which exists when they are not embedded oroutered in material technologies…When the perverse ingenuity of man has outered some part of his being in material technology, his entire sense ratio is altered. He is then compelled to behold this fragment of himself “closing itself as in steel.” In beholding this new thing, man is compelled to become it.” I read that and I was like, wow well that makes so much sense. When I think of imagination I think of what we call in psychology symbolic play which basically just means that in early childhood you can take objects and think in your mind, truly believe, that they are something completely different and you play with them in that fashion. So, when McLuhan states how as soon as that imaginative property is realized in some sort of medium (maybe you think a stick is a horse, then you actually get a horse) now it’s completely consuming. All you want to do is ride the horse, it becomes who you are. But, it’s also very limiting. The horse has its own motives and you cannot control it the way you did in your mind. The parellel to our computers or any other medium seemed very astonishing to me. Yes, we have this vision in our heads of what we want our advertisement to look like. So, we use the computer to develop the advertisement. Well, the creativity that the advertisement is representing was made through the computer, limiting our imagination but also being the engine to drive it. Like, well what if we put this here, put that there. It’s very interesting this sort of give and take that your imagination and various mediums have.
I also just really liked the kind of general idea of having to incorporate the user/reading/audience in to the work. IT makes complete sense that art can become much more interesting and real when it is embodying the way we actually react to it/think about it. Bringing this idea into 2012, I see it all the time in marketing. So much of marketing is the research behind it-who cares about this product, who’s goign to use it, who looks at our ads, who acts on the knowledge of the product? Then, we channel that research into making our marketing catered to the individuals in our target audience. Ben touched on it in his post when he discussed how Facebook and Google are kind of doing this without us even being aware of it. Marketing does the same thing. So, that connection for me was very interesting.
But, the second passage was just amazing. I was reading it and I couldn’t put it down. Not because it was easy to read like Nelson, but because there were so many nuggets I wanted to highlight (I get very excited and excessive with my highlighting). However, I only have time to go over the most fascinating line that was coincidentally in the very first paragraph of this passage, ”..the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium-that is, of any extension of ourselves-result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology.” I read that and the whole first passage made so much more sense. The way he throws in your face, “-that is, of any extension of ourselves-,” took me aback. My roommate was watching a documentary yesterday about how by 2029 humans and machines will be undistinguishable from one another. I disagree with this statement, it’s too literal. But, in the way that McLuhan states it, that any medium really is just an extension of ourselves, well that seems much more realistic. First of all, of course it has to be. Why/how would anyone use/derive any meaningful concepts from any medium if it wasn’t in line with the way we think, if it wasn’t convenient to add to our daily lives, or if it wasn’t symbolic of the way that humans think and communicate. As I’m writing this, I’m thinking about during my presentation when Ben was pointing out how the specific way that we do things, particularly on an iPad, is not directly like what we do on paper. But, it is trying to simulate the ease at which we do things. Such as, “I want this page to go up so I can read more” so you push it up to read more with your finger. It’s more in line with what you’re thinking than, “I want this page to go up so I can read more,” so I’m going to push on an up arrow through a mouse.
Just the idea that the medium is trying to convey its “content” through various ways of expressing itself is interesting. For example, when I’m in a new town, I don’t necessarily care so much about what the name of a restaurant is. It probably will tell me little about the menu or the dining area or the type of service I will receive. What I look for, is the way it presents itself. What kind of sign/logo do they have? Do I recognize it as a chain? I feel like most of the time this is kind of done without even thinking about it. But, of course, after reading this passage I was like well, yeah, I do that. The medium of the logo and the idea of the chain represent and are an extension of what you’re going to get when you enter it. Just like a website is a message in and of itself. If a company had a well-designed website, it will impress me more than the actual things it says in the passages describing how the company started and where it is now. I don’t care. If your site is presentable, your place and your content is probably presentable too. We just live in a world where we move so fast that we care more about how the media is presented to us rather than what it’s actually saying. I find this relevant when I have to post the same thing on 4 social media channels and get people from all 4 channels contacting me in various ways. People want to know things, but they want to know them (and they get the most out of them) when they are presented in a way that makes sense to them (is a way that is an extension of who they are/what they care about)
As I’m finishing up this post I’m realizing that I didn’t even dive into many of the other things I thought about while reading this post. Hopefully, we can have a very lively discussion in class tomorrow! What do you guys think?
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