Medium is the Message II

July 14, 2009 | 2 Comments

Category: Society, Web

More and more work is emerging that is noting the influence of the Internet on society as regards the web as a communications media informing how we view the world.

This is a process rather than language version of the Sapir/Whorf hypothesis that the structure of the process through which information is disseminated deeply influences the content that is shared.

Marshall McLuhan understood and communicated that different media suggested different solutions to the problems that society wrestles with.  One-to-many media in a hierarchical society limit an ability to consider horizontal, many-to-many solutions.  There are specific problems created by allegiance to specific media, problems particularly difficult to deconstruct in an environment committed to those specific media.

One-to-many media encourage apathy and a belief that we as individuals can only have a limited effect.  This helplessness keeps hierarchical societies stratified.

The Internet encourages an experience of personal empowerment by offering individuals an ability to achieve goals and communicate in fashions that result in change.  There is a not so subtle realignment of orientation to identifying with a group as a means to specific ends.  On the web, becoming a member of a group is quick and seamless.  Achieving ends becomes quick and seamless.  The deification of the individual that accompanies one-to-many communications (note the incredible number of TV ads hawking individuality) becomes unnecessary in an Internet environment where the individual actually feels empowered by associations with conglomerations.  It’s all about the commons.

The Internet is fostering what the Republicans call socialism.  The media transformation is changing the political landscape along with how we process information and interpret content.

My guess is that the future will look somewhat like how Scandinavia is embracing the new media.  It is a society with a politic prepared to understand and utilize a horizontal, transparent and diverse media.  Look there first for where we’re going.  An Icelandic lesbian female head of state seems a reasonable direction to be headed as barriers come down and anything that is possible can be discussed.  There are few barriers in many-to-many communications.

There are many books and blogs out there on the seismic media/social/political shift that we are experiencing.  Too much attention can’t be provided to how the structure of the new media changes the structure of society and the way that an individual experiences self.  The medium is the message.


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2 Comments so far

  1. EquiisSavant on July 15, 2009 5:29 am

    Your right. But the Internet is doing even more for autism — lets those of us who can’t use paper print or telephones to communicate speak out thoughts freely. So many do not realize the format of the Internet medium is itself an autism revolution. But, recently I have read how some companies are coming up with ways to change the standard Arial print styles on the Internet — bad for some of us who have trouble reading the frilly front styles. It seems like evertime we manage to make it two steps forward, we are forced to take one step backwards again.

    I liked your post. Very thoughtful.

  2. Andrew on July 15, 2009 8:01 am

    Hi Equiis,

    Tell me more on how the internet enhances the ability of the autistics to communicate. This is not something that I have considered. This sounds like it should be a piece that also discusses neurodiversity in the content of new media.

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