The Medium Is The Message
How You Communicate Changes What You Communicate
“We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.” — Marshall McLuhan
Food For Thought
The Medium Is The Message
A phrase popularized by Marshall McLuhan in his 1964 book Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, “The medium is the message,” is an expression whose truth has stood the test of time.
McLuhan believed that the nature of the medium that was being used to share a message was more important than the actual content of the message being shared. The medium places a filter on a message in a way that significantly influences how the message is interpreted.
A great modern day example of this is Twitter. The 280-character limit on Twitter forces people to be quick and to the point — oftentimes sacrificing a lot of context in the process.
Communication and story sharing is like one giant game of telephone that spans across networks, countries, and cultures. So, if the original point of contact with a news story is on Twitter, then a sloppily summarized version of the story makes it into someone’s mind. When that person goes to retell it, they naturally shorten and simplify it even further… and so on and so on down the telephone line. Since the initial sharing of the story was poorly done, the retellings are so bad that the story that actually ends up circulating is only a shell of the truth.
This week is Company Culture week on Mission Daily. And to celebrate, we are having a team offsite… 🎉 🥳
So what does company culture have to do with today’s newsletter? “The medium is the message,” is a phrase that extends past content consumption and into personal and professional communication.
Since much of what we do at Mission happens thanks to the work of a remote team spread across the country, communication is an uphill battle, but one that is critical for success. Working in media means that things change quickly and often, so how we communicate with one another needs to be optimized to allow those changes to trickle through the company efficiently and clearly.
We use Slack to communicate much of the time, but as happens with all text messaging services, this can easily lead to misunderstandings. When building, working with, or directing a team — and even in your communication with friends or family — it’s important to always take into account how the mode of communication is changing the message you are trying to convey.
For a more thorough discussion about company culture and leadership, tune into Mission Daily this week for interviews with top executives. Here’s the lineup:
- Tuesday: Anna Gat, Founder of Ixy
- Wednesday: Frederic Kerrest, Co-Founder of Okta
- Thursday: Dr. Emily Anhalt, Co-Founder of Beam
- Friday: Sander Daniels, Co-Founder of Thumbtack
Oldies But Goodies
For a deeper dive into media, its influence on our culture, and the future of media, give these a read:
- Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man by Marshall McLuhan
- Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business by Neil Postman
- Mediasaurus by Michael Crichton
If You Don’t Like To Read…
Check out Marshall McLuhan’s 1977 lectures about how the medium is the message.
“I discovered somewhat to my surprise that when you look in the rearview mirror, you do not see what has gone past, you see what is coming. The rearview mirror is the foreseeable future. It is not the past at all… Nostalgia is the name of the game in every part of our world today, but nostalgia is a kind of rearview mirror. It’s also the shape of things to come. When people have been stripped of their private identities they develop huge nostalgia.”
Team Offsite Day One
The studio has been hijacked by the remote team… 😎
Sign Off 👋
We hope your weekend was fantastic! Do something fun? Share it with on Twitter @TheMissionHQ.
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This was originally published on April 29, 2019 as the Mission’s daily newsletter. To subscribe, go here.
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