The Message Is the Medium: Online All the Time for Everyone

By Tom Koch | Go to book overview

1
"The Medium Is the Message" and Other Myths of the Evolving, Electronic Age

The message is the medium by which we seek the answers to the problems of our lives. Marshall McLuhan, the erudite but generally unintelligible Toronto professor who insisted that "the medium is the message" got it backwards. 1 Online, offline, broadcast news, or Morse code: The medium merely carries the data we all require. It is through the messy complex of reported facts, opinions, perceptions, reports-- the disparate elements of fact and surmise that we retrieve from every conceivable source--that each of us attempts to make sense of our individual lives and shared times. From the perspective of the user, the medium is not the message any more than the crushed velvet little box holding a diamond ring is the real present bestowed, on traditionally bent knee, in the time-honored form of a request for marriage.

Imagine that you have a dread disease and a new drug offering hope of a cure has just become available. Do you care what medium carries that message of health and hope to your home? It may be an article in the latest issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association; a telephone call from the doctor, whose colleague read a report on the drug; or it could be a fact overheard in a patient's self-help support group. It may be a datum reported on the Internet, or a fact gleaned from an online electronic search. What is important to the patient is not the carrier, but the signal it conveys. Whether it comes by jungle drum or on the 11:00 nightly television news, it is the promise of hope that the

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The Message Is the Medium: Online All the Time for Everyone
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • 1 - The Medium is the Message" and Other Myths of the Evolving, Electronic Age" 1
  • Notes 13
  • 2 - Old News: The Necessity for Change 15
  • Notes 33
  • 3 - Everybody's Resource: The Knowledge Center 35
  • Notes 54
  • 4 55
  • Notes 75
  • 5 - Finding It: The Organization of Online Material 77
  • Note 99
  • 6 - The Internet: Fact and Context 101
  • Notes 123
  • 7 - Mute Dialogues: Hope and Despair Online 125
  • Notes 146
  • 8 - Virtual" Realities:" 147
  • 9 165
  • Note 184
  • 10 - Quality: Fact and Opinion 185
  • 11 201
  • Notes 219
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 229
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