“The medium is the message”, “Worship at the altar of convergence”, “The machine is US/ing us”

 Humanity has been consistently enthralled by the methods used to present and communicate information. How individuals communicate defines who we are and constitutes a lot of what makes us unique. Marshall McLuhan introduced many observations about the impact of changing ways we express ourselves through media.

A valuable phrase stated by McLuhan is “the medium is the message” and that personal or social consequences of any medium is an extension of ourselves. The ‘medium’ is anything from which a change emerges – commonly through mass media communications such as radio, television, internet etc.

“Usually our senses bring the world to our minds, speech takes our sensorially shaped minds out to the world” I found this statement very significant in understanding the way McLuhan expresses the relationship between the medium and content; the content will always bind us to the source.

I was quite impressed with McLuhan’s points on communication and technology, it really opened my eyes as I never directly correlated the information we receive with the WAY we receive information. It seems so obvious when I think about it now though…

An article by Henry Jenkins further appended to my understanding of media change and its importance. It points out the way that convergence represents a cultural shift as consumers are encouraged to seek information and make connections. Participatory culture and collective intelligence is what propels the media along. Participatory culture can be defined as consumers of the media interacting with each other according to a new set of rules which nobody understands yet. Furthermore, collective intelligence can be seen as an alternative source of power in the media.

Convergence occurs within the individual and through social interactions with others. An obvious example, every morning the first thing I do is check my phone, respond to texts, calls, Facebook/twitter notifications, update my tumblr/twitter… etc. Before i’ve even gotten out of bed. It’s also the last thing I do before going to sleep.

The way I ‘measure’ convergence in my mind is comparing generation X to generation Y. I guarantee my parents’  daily routine did not consist of spending so much time interacting with one another through wireless devices. My dad is sickened with the amount of time I spend on the internet, and I can understand why. Although I think he gets so irritated about it because he can’t keep up himself; yet as soon as he is having some sort of technical trouble he is so grateful to have his technology dependent daughter by his side.

Jenkins mentions in a video that convergence culture is a world where every story, sounds, brand, image and relationship plays itself out across the maximum number of media channels. These channels or ‘platforms’ are all the popular websites/applications used today such as Facebook and Twitter. Being connected online allows you to send and receive information on an international scale. Information can now go further, faster.

Another interesting video I watched was one named “Web 2.0…The machine is US/ing US”. This was a quick and effective way of pointing out how we have more power than we think. We teach ‘the machine’ something every time we use it. Hence computers learning what they know from what we do with them. It is not apparent to enough people just exactly how much control we have. More and more sites are becoming user generated since the boom of YouTube, Facebook and the like.

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