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The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter

The Budapest Office - Castro Bisztro, Madach ter
Ponder, Scribble, Ponder (Photo Erdotahi Aron)

Guest Nutter/Kindred Soul: Bill Bailey

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Friday, 12 October 2007

Marshall McLuhan

Marshall McLuhan is, as far as I am concerned, famous for two things:
  1. Occurring in a Genesis song called Broadway Melody (on The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway), and
  2. Coining the phrase "the medium is the message"
However, I think the message needs updating. It was one of those nice-bar (Szimpla probably), nice-conversation questions: has modern technology (mobile phones, the internet) destroyed communication? My wife claimed that communication was now so casual that we no longer said very much to each other. Once upon a time, a telephone call was an event - one had to go to the phone, and the callee had to go to their phone in order to converse; it was not inexpensive and a quiet environment was preferred so that one could concentrate on the substance of the call. Ditto letters (I say "ditto", you say "diddoh") - pen, paper, envelopes, stamps and a trip to the postbox. Wow! A letter was even more of an event that a phone call.

Then we got the fax; faxing was for (almost) everyone (unlike telex - anyone remember that? Is it still used?). Then we got mobile phones - or, rather, phones that could in principle be lugged around. Then we got the net. And finally everything got smaller, faster, cheaper (and some of it blew up on the launchpad or dived straight into Mars at umpteen miles per hour - or was it km/s... I think that (a metric-imperial unit mixup) was the problem) and it became trivial to communicate.

So now we chat, txt, email, blog, upload videos, mashups etc. etc. etc. at the drop of a proverbial hat (whatever happened to hats?).

Conclusion: how we do these things is no longer important. That we communicate almost at will over arbitrary distances with friends, family, colleagues - anyone - about anything, at any time of our choosing is far more significant.

The result is that the medium is no longer the message - the message is the message.


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