Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I Am the Message...or something like that

TIME magazine's Person of the Year cover feature on "Web 2.0" makes no mention of the late media theoretician and visionary Marshall McLuhan, though it certainly should. In his 1967 book, The Medium Is The Massage, McLuhan declares, "Xerography...heralds the age of instant publishing. Anybody can now become both author and publisher." In this pronouncement, as in almost all things, McLuhan was years, even decades, ahead of his time.
While it is certainly correct that the invention of the photocopier allowed those with access to one the ability to publish their writings, the results were seldom on a par with commercial media products and distribution was limited. It would not be until the advent of the Internet, bringing with such innovations as blogs and music and video sharing sites, that the "age of instant publishing" could truly be said to have arrived. Now, not only can anyone "become both author and publisher," but actor, film maker, or rock star, as well.
It is now possible for anyone to create content as slick and professional in appearance as that generated by true media professionals and distribute it instantly on a worldwide scale with the push of a button or click of a mouse.
Back in 1990, when I worked at WKZA, an AM oldies radio station, my friend and co-worker who went by the on-air moniker of Marty Anton and I had a series of running jokes between us. One of them involved my feigning alarm at something that Marty had just said by gasping, "Alert the media!!" Marty would respond by reminding me, "Ray, we ARE the media." Thanks to Web 2.0, the barriers to entry in that formerly elite fraternity have been, for all intents and purposes, obliterated, and we are all the media.

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