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The Medium is the Massage

Back in Canada, the CBC used to run TV spots during commercial breaks highlighting the accomplishments of great Canadians.  The only one I remember is of a professor repeating “the medium is the message” over and over again. It was only when I got to college, just when the web was taking off, that everything this man said back in the 60’s made sense.


What Marshall McLuhan defined back in the 1960’s is still relevant today: that the media itself speaks more than the content it conveys.  In “Understanding Media,” McLuhan explains that different media invite varying degrees of participation by the media consumer.  Visually intensive media such as movies (or eLearnings) require less effort on behalf of the viewer to fill in the details making them easier to consume.  This is contrasted to something like comics (or an article with screen shots) that requires a higher degree of effort to fill in details that the author intended to describe. McLuhan placed different media on a spectrum: a movie is “hot,” demanding the viewer’s attention, and a comic book is “cool,” requiring more conscious participation by the reader to extract the meaning.

So how does this relate to eLearning? eLearning content is like a movie: it’s hot.  Given the global reach of SAP products, eLearning content enables more people to share ideas and concepts by lowering linguistic barriers and by employing a more engaging and easier to consume format.

About SCN eLearnings

We have a growing repertoire of over 1,600 eLearnings with over 120,000 views every month. It’s surprisingly easy to add more life to your words with voice over presentations and screen capture demonstrations: our Submission Guidelines and Settings for SCN Video Content page will help you get started.

Final Note

I’m sure more than a few of you caught the error in the title (Message, not Massage). While this was the result of printing error, McLuhan loved the accidental pun so much that he decided to keep it as the title of his book.  Think about it: the medium is the message, massage, mass age, mess age…

See you at the eLearnings!

1 Comment
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  • Medium is the Massage.  First book I read for communications back in my college years when this was “news”.  I loved the snippet of the movie, which just further illustrates your point.  Having been around film, theater, media , and distance learning for longer than I care to remember, I would add to your excellent piece here the following comment:
    We provide media-massaged messages. Meaning that this isn’t elearning at all despite the fact that we have a link to eLearning right here on our homepage navigation.  eLearning only happens at the other end of the presentation/content spectrum, meaning when someone is learning something and *applying it*.  That kind of activity is not what we provide.  We just deliver media-enriched content or Rich Media content or media massaged content with short (hopefully memorable) messages.  YouTube isn’t “teaching us” it’s just the vehicle. 
    But no one can dispute the power and impact of the messages delivered via that medium.  I’m thinking that it will change the course of an election, quite possibly, so why shouldn’t it also impact change management or implementation or the reputation of a product.  Powerful stuff this medium.  Glad you help us enable its use.