Marshall McLuhan studied how different forms of media affected individuals and society.  He proposed that each medium, regardless of the content it carries, has its own intrinsic qualities, and those qualities are embedded in the medium’s content. In that way, McLuhan suggested that the ultimate message of any new medium or technology is the change of scale; the change of pace; or the change of behavioral patterns that it introduces to human affairs. “The medium is the message” because it is the “medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action.”

McLuhan looked at technology and media as extensions of the human faculties of thought, sight, hearing, voice and physical ability beyond what would otherwise be their normal range. He looked at how a medium affects how we think; he looked at how we interact with a medium, and whether or not it altered our dependence or independence and interdependence. He compared how we functioned before the introduction of a new medium/technology, to how we functioned after, and considered whether the changes could be viewed as positive or negative.  Were adjustments needed? How should they be made? By whom?

If technology and media could be looked at as extension of human faculties, or in effect, extensions of ourselves, then that alteration of our natures must also extend to an alteration of human society. It is those broader societal changes that McLuhan was most interested in, and they are the ones he wanted us to focus on when he proclaimed “The medium is the message”.  He was trying to get us to see beyond the immediate content, beyond the immediate shape of the technology, beyond the distraction, to see the more significant changes introduced by the new medium.

McLuhan wanted to help us figure out ways to ease or lessen some of the damaging effects that were sometimes felt with the arrival of any new medium or technology.He believed that once we looked beyond the immediate content of message, and focused on the content embedded in the medium, then we could begin to take control of the societal changes introduced with the arrival of the new medium/technology.

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