A Twitter tag is McLuhan’s light bulb

I have been working on-and-off over the last few days on a BIG POST about stories and how the social media revolution is putting the story at the centre of not just communications planning, but organisational management as well.

As part of this I was re-visting the ideas of Marshall McLuhan – author of ‘Understanding Media’  and originator of  ‘medium is the message’ idea – a phrase many use, but much less understand I suspect.  I read Understanding Media a long time ago and I have to admit I struggled a little with it.  In particular I could never get the idea that a light bulb was a form of media.  But thinking about this now – the light bulb went on.  Basically a Twitter tag is McLuhan’s light bulb – a medium that has no content of its own, but creates a social effect through the space it brings into being.  Ding!

This made me realise I must re-read McLuhan – I suspect there is much in his ideas about electronic interdependence, the end of print culture and, of course, the Global Village (his other phrase) that is probably very relevant to the social media revolution.  I still don’t necessarily agree that the medium is the message – but I think McLuhan was right to highlight the extent to which the medium shapes the message in a world where we were taking the medium for granted.  Now of course, the medium has sort-of just become the light bulb – all the rest is dissolving.


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