[Editor’s Note: This is week nine of the From the Garden to the City Blog Tour]
The message is the content we transmit from our minds to our audience, while everything that surrounds those words can be considered a medium.
Now, there’s something to be said for this approach, and I’d probably reignite the ire of the Communications department of my alma mater (Millersville University) if they attend to reading this. I didn’t care for semotics then, and was more interested in the experience and relevance of the message. To read this chapter I had to set and reset those perspectives a bit – and then dribble down some roads that I’d just not travelled in some time.
John arrives at this discussion about Mediums with some interplay and advancing from McLuhan’s medium is the message meme. And where I can see the connections – for example communication tendencies being placed into formality, speed, and difficulty – I can also see some disconnects that are probably a product of my own training, experience, and profession/vocation – my disagreements with the digital native/digital immigrant discussion. And maybe that’s just it with this chapter, and much of the rest of this book, you get this chance to wrestle with how you’ve perceived the medium of connected technologies of our age (polls, Internet, mobile, social networking, etc.) and filter them not so much through what you know and accept, but what makes sense beyond your perceptions.
Because I do agree with John at this point – mediums do create culture (and the inverse is just as true depending on sit on economic/class ladders). “Mediums create contexts in which we interpret our world.” When we train or constrain our view of the world thru the dominant and emerging media channels of our day (mediums), we cannot help but to be shaped by them. Yet, there’s this responsibility to also notice that our perspectives are being shaped by those windows and adjust to them.
He pulls into the chapter the discussion of the mediums of photography and the printing press. Most relevant to the book’s discussion is how these technologies reshaped messages that we consider as normal – as well as the available audiences to hear that message. There was no such thing as a book club culture before the printing press (this is what would pre-date what we understand as the Borders/Barnes & Noble culture) to shape how people fellowshiped or found value in spontaneous connections. Frankly, there weren’t that many readers, nor schools for all but a few affluent persons to read. And so, the intriduction of the medium into a section of society reshaped how we considered reading as a part of spiritual and cultural living. That medium of available (frequent, inexpensive, and consistantly repeatable) literary resources then creates the atmosphere where the lens of our culture is able to be redefined as whatever message being put forth attracts or instigates attention.
Dyer finishes the chapter with the (always fun) discussion about images (the well worn talk of iconography, and iconoclasts). And depending on your perspective about pixels being images and therefore everything on a screen whether text or not is a case of attending to or admonishing life at the point of visual media, your perspective about photos/videos as another influential medium of our age gets to play. In reading that section, I was taken back to those semotic discussions on Gestalt theory (figure-ground) and a question that I tend to ask the guys that I disciple: do you just pay attention to what you are shown in the picture, or can you ask and see the things that the image misses? When we bend our view on life around those questions, we see the medium that is photography/video in a different light – and usually the more critical light were we understand that what we are shown is only a piece of the whole.
So, what will you get out of this chapter? It is a connecting chapter between the prior and next. Much of this is restating communication theory and observation that I haven’t forgotten but am long familiar with. And yet, I’m challenged to make sure that whenever I am lending my perspective to events (written, photographical, or otherwise), that it will also depend on what someone is receiving that through as to how they will interpret and live forward from that message.
If you haven’t purchased or read From the Garden to the City, I’d encourage you to read it (at least twice) and to take the observations and lessons into your professional and vocational contexts. You won’t agree with everything (you shouldn’t), but you will be challenged and offer the challenges to your immediate spheres towards the kind of (Berean) inspection that is ultimately more valuable and longer lasting than the next channel or opportunity in this virtual space.
Additional Perspectives Shared
I’ve shared my highlights and notes (as have others) at the Amazon Kindle site/page for From the Garden to the City. Just as much as the dicussion merits comments here and other places this book is being discussed, I think that you’d gain even more by seeing were others have noted their thoughts and opinions about John’s perspectives throughout this book.
[Next week, we review chapter seven: Restoration]