McLuhan: the electric light as a medium

Posted: December 14, 2009 in All and Sundry, MA Media Studies

one of my classmates in Ideas class wrote this very good summary of McLuhan’s point about the electric light having no content but actually he was talking about how some media are left unnoticed because they have no content, yet they are very pervasive medium of communication. I guess my point is perhaps it is time to revisit McLuhan in the media education programs in the Philippines, and somehow re-think how we approach the study of media. Just posting it here so I won’t forget.

“According to McLuhan the electric light is pure information. It is a medium without a message, as it were, unless it is used to spell out some verbal ad or name. McLuhan points out, that “content” of any medium is always another medium. For the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs.  The electric light escapes attention as a communication medium just because it has no “content”. And this makes it an invaluable instance of how people fail to study media at all. For it is not till the electric light is used to spell out some brand name it is noticed as a medium. Then it is not the light but the “content” (or what is really another medium) that is noticed.

  1. Ted says:

    Sounds like Shannon entropy (measure of uncertainty) in information theory.

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