Screens, Research and Hypertext

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McLuhan Strikes Again

There's a message in the medium of print. It may not be the right one.

Ship of Theseus is a story that can only be told in a physical book.

It’s a book that has changed directions—one that makes sense only when it’s understood as a reaction to the fundamental nature of bookishness. It’s a story that both understands the ways that people can use a book and then plays with those conventions.

Marshall McLuhan famously proclaimed that “the medium is the message.” There’s a story that’s told in the literal content. But there’s another story that’s told via the medium.

A movie fundamentally compresses time, cramming days or weeks or years or even decades into a 2-hour window. Television splits stories into smaller, time-boxed segments.

The printed pages in a book communicate a literal message. The form of a book conveys a whole second message. That there’s an idea that required over 100,000 words to express. That a sentence will have some connection to the one that precedes it and to the one that follows it. That someone else read the book and decided it was worthy of publication.

That it is a conversation between the author and the reader.

That the author is in control of that conversation.

For more context

If the medium is the message, the PDF is mostly delivering bad news.

What to read next

The Ship of Theseus floats atop layers of meanings and meta-meanings.

Other items of interest

The medium isn't the only thing that conveys a message on top of the literal text.

Good curation is another way of telling a meta-story.

Since we're talking meta ... have some metahumans, too.