Tuesday 1 May 2012

The Medium is the Message

Communications and media students, and prissy know-it-alls often triumphantly say "The medium IS the message". Sun Microsystems built their advertising identity on this nonsensical phrase during the dot com boom. You can tell it's nonsense because the medium and the message are distinct, they even have different names to make it easier to tell that they're not the same thing.

Having said all that, I have to admit that there was an occasion at the weekend where the message had hidden components that weren't evident in the words of the message. I was on a boys only drinking expedition, and one of the participants had had to leave his 12 year old daughter at home by herself so that he could join us for a quick pint. "It's OK" he said, "She's very sensible for her age, and we've got neighbours who are.... next door." Neighbours are always next door, the sentence by itself is pleonastic and redundant, but we all understood (after we'd finished laughing at him) that the neighbours were helpful, trustworthy, and at home.

It reminds me of a question that a friend of a friend once asked. We were discussing dimly remembered childrens' TV, and "Sooty and Sweep" in particular. She asked "Was Matthew Corbet one of the two Ronnies?"

Richard "Persistent heavy showers" B

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