The Medium is the Message… Where to start?

I know… let’s code?



This chapter 3rd chapter from Nicholas Gane and David Beer’s New Media, titled “Information” certainly had me for a loop as I started my reading this week. Trying to unpack the connection between Claude Shannon’s five main components of information systems: “the information source, the transmitter, the channel, the receiver and the destination” (Gane and Beer 37) had me seriously questioning what I had gotten myself into.

And then..

To take the study even further into Donna Haraway’s “Cyborg Manifesto” where she claims this sort of interaction has created “cyborgs: organisms that are not purely human, animal, or machine, and which cross and confuse more boundaries than they uphold?” (Gane and Beer 42).

Where was I to go from here?

And finally…

Perhaps straight to Marshall McLuhan who “prioritiz[es] analysis of the technology of message transmission over interpretation of its content, hence his famous declaration that the ‘medium is the message'” (Gane and Beer 39).

At this point in my study of information through the lens of new media, I was becoming a little disenfranchised. How was I supposed to digest these complex, dare I say, ludicrous, theories?

I’m starting to get it, maybe…

It wasn’t until I started reading McLuhan’s chapter “Media: Hot and Cold” from his Understanding Media the Extensions of Man that things started to click for me.

Woman pointing to her temple with her eyebrows raised.
Ah Ha!

“High media are, therefore, low in participation and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience” -McLuhan (Media Hot and Cold 39).

Hands on really helped

It’s slowly starting to gel for me, but not completely. My first attempt at coding later that week helped to solidify some of these really complex concepts. Truly, our choice of medium has an effect on our understanding of information and in some ways that medium can change the information itself, purely through the ways the medium interacts (or fails to interact) with the receiver.

The experience of creating the “webpage” (on the middle and right) through the use of “code” (on the left) was truly an experience of cool media requiring high engagement on my part.

What I found particularly interesting, however, was how much I enjoyed the experience.

What I take away…

And honestly, that seems to be my takeaway here: the cooler the media, the more I interact and the more information I’m going to take away from that interaction. This, in and of itself, is really important because it emphasizes the importance of our media choices.

While, on the surface, thinking about whether information is delivered through book, social media interface, website, etc, might be a secondary concern, I’m beginning to realize that the choice of media is just as important as the content I’m trying to convey.

And what makes the choice difficult is determining the right “temperature” of the medium. Too hot, too little engagement. Too cold, and you lose your audience who won’t commit to the effort needed to engage.

Final thoughts…

So… while I wouldn’t say, I’m an expert at this new media thing… having a little hands-on practice and thinking critically about some of my experiences as an online graduate student, I can say… “I’m getting there.”

Plus, I did some coding! Go English teacher!

I can’t believe it!

Look what I did…

certificate of achievement
Images created using Code Academy

Works Cited

Codecademy. 2019. 09 Feb. 2019 <;.

The Medium is the Message by Marshall McLuhan | Animated Book Review. Dir. Eudaimonia. YouTube. 07 Dec. 2016. 09 Feb. 2019 <;.

Gane, Nicholas, and David F. Beer. “Information.” New media: The key concepts. Oxford: Berg, 2008. 35-52.

McLuhan, Marshall. “Media Hot and Cold.” Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. Ed. W. Torrence Gordon. Critical Edition ed. Berkeley, CA: Ginko P. 38-50.

Published by amhudak

a life-long learner trying something new

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    1. Ideas like Haraway’s cyborgs and “organisms that are not purely human, animal or machine.” These were the sort of things that had me furrowing my brows initially. With your framing video, though, you helped clarify some things for me.


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