“Break Boundaries”

I have read forms of this reading many times, including the version with pictures. However McLuhan never ceases to confuse me on some level, especially when reading further into his observations. One comment that I would like to discuss further in class is his argument that: the medium is the message. Yet, the way that the medium affects us is not in our control. My question is: Is McLuhan advocating for us to take back this control? Or are we to admit that we relinquish all control over the effects of media?

The reading delves into discussion regarding the effects of media on the users. However, I thought the discussion on “break boundaries” and the interplay between two mediums was particularly interesting. McLuhan quotes Kenneth Boulding and defines break boundary “at which the system suddenly changes into another or passes some point of no return in its dynamic processes” (38). This discussion of a break boundary fits directly with what we will be discussing in this class, namely how literature is rapidly changing and mixing with electronic mediums. The question remains, has this change in the system of literature resulted in a point of no return?

Besides looking at one medium and its point of no return, we can understand the power and effects of media by understanding the way that two or more mediums can play off each other. There are many current examples with Web 2.0 occurring after the publication of this article. The way that we consume video has fundamentally changed with its relationship with the internet. Sharing video, watching shorter segments, the ease at which we consume a video in a 3 x 5in box, and the introduction of comments to video, has changed the medium of video as well furthered the possibilities offered by internet technology. Especially with the introduction of Web 2.0 technologies, before we can ask how a medium as affected us, I think we should ask how different mediums have affected each other.

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