Media is the message – or the massage?

The Canadian philosopher, professor and communication theorist Marshall McLuhan proclaimed the word: The medium is the message. The book is actually called “The Medium is the Massage” due to a mistake from the typesetters, but when McLuhan saw the error, he loved it and kept it as it was. At that time of the mid-1960s this confused a lot of people, but in fact there is more to it than a simple typo. Message – massage – mass age?

Visionary as McLuhan was some assume he foresaw the use of Internet. But what does this mean – media is the message? Following a traditional interpretation, it's a deliberately paradoxical statement when you get a message: It's the message that's the message. Isn't it the content rather than its form? McLuhan focussed on the medium itself arguing that throughout history what has been communicated has been less important than the particular medium through which people communicate. The technology that transfers the message changes us and changes society. “First we shape the tools, then the tools shape us.”

While in former times a letter was considered something important and more relevant than oral communication, this pattern has changed with technology. In modern times the wheel is spinning even faster. Hearsay entered the world of emails, text messages, video messages, 280 characters and 140 seconds on Twitter etc. The famous quote - “I am writing you a long letter as I don’t have the time to write a short one.” – seems irritating as the so called “social” media conversations are minimalized sometimes even to pictograms like ancient hieroglyphs. Everything needs to be fast, but mind: speed kills.

Not even asking for the magic, but what about the results? "When Aeschines spoke, they said, ‘How well he speaks.’ But when Demosthenes spoke, they said, ‘Let us march against Philip.’" (David Ogilvy). Now, who is the better speaker? A lot of managers and along with them organisations want the newest, most advanced tech-toys. Fair enough – but do they know how to use them? Surveys say: no, they don’t.

TaP Group and TaP Media Productions carefully analyse which tool, medium, tech-toy is needed to gain the best possible result for their clients. In the immense unbearable noise of today’s world the aim is to reach the ear of the relevant – and move from “well said” to “well made”.