In Our Wired World, Is The Medium Still The Message?

A half-century ago, Marshall McLuhan wrote about the nature of various media. His philosophy put forth the idea that a medium—movies, TV, radio, live theatre, art, print—communicates in its own way, regardless of its content.

While I am a believer in the value of good content, there may be corresponding perceptions in 2013 regarding the various online media we use to communicate. If you obtain the same exact message, does it matter whether it comes from Facebook, as opposed to Twitter? If you are sent the exact same information via text message, as opposed to email, do you regard it differently?

Does a video you watch on Youtube have the same impact if it is viewed instead on a corporate or media outlet website? Do you judge a press release differently if you find it via search rather than in your email inbox? If a retailer has a sale, do you prefer to learn about it from a marketing email sent directly to you or from a display ad on their website?

Do you feel differently about blog posts that you subscribe to or seek out each day/week versus those you come to (as you may have come to this one today) via a link posted on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn? If you are turned on to content via aggregators, do you feel differently if you get a tidbit from, say, the Drudge Report rather than Google Reader, Huffington Post or Fark?

Are there web destinations that you would prefer to access via their smartphone apps rather than deal with their actual site in your laptop browser? If a company’s print ad directs you to its web content, are you more likely to go to a Facebook page than a company website?

If you are an active social media participant, how do you determine where and how to share, say, a restaurant experience? Do you go with Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, Instagram, Yelp, Foodspotting, Untappd, Youtube or Vine? Or all of the above? With which would you prefer to learn of your friends’ eating and drinking activities?

While I still believe content is king, where and how you obtain the content can color your perceptions. Even in the online world that McLuhan did not live to see, the medium may still be at least part of the message.

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