chapter  5
Media meanings: The discourses, genres, and modalities of communication
Pages 20

One of the most familiar statements about media, in research as well as in public debate, remains Marshall McLuhan’s (1964: 23) “the medium is the message.”1 While open to interpretation, the point of his dictum was that various historical media have been the source of characteristic worldviews above and beyond their concrete messages about and representations of reality. Form trumps content.2 Specifically, McLuhan suggested that twentieth-century audiovisual media had challenged previously dominant literate perspectives on the world from within “the Gutenberg galaxy” (McLuhan, 1962). With digital media, we may have entered an “internet galaxy” (Castells, 2001). The legacy of McLuhan is the insight that media lend form to cultures and societies: media program the meanings that cultures and societies ascribe to themselves in communication.