McLuhan and Google Media Tools

Ferguson, algorithmic filtering, and net neutrality. Three major issues congested with even more problematic crossroads in between, all addressed in just a single six-minute read. As intriguing as I found Zeynep Tufekci’s story about how Ferguson’s coverage was relayed on the Internet, I was equally intrigued by how Tufekci’s own post was being portrayed. At this point I began to think about Marshall McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” in relation to this newfangled blog-posting platform. While reading through the post, I felt that the prose in which it was written seemed to me like a collection of cohesive tweets. I could envision almost each individual paragraph as a bunch of tweets on someone’s timeline. Alongside these paragraphs were subtle comment buttons where readers can add their opinion instantaneously. It was an unusual layout for me to read, but also felt extremely digestible and easy on the eyes. I’m used to reading all the commentary on the bottom only after I finished the main post. Multi-tasking and seeing that some paragraphs had more comments than others somewhat validated those particular pieces of her writing, such as the one-liner, “Algorithms have consequences.” I found this whole reading experience to be extremely meta. Here was Tufekci, someone I had no idea about just an hour ago, uncovering the message in which Ferguson was communicated through and now here I am uncovering her medium’s message about a message’s medium. Woah.

After reading the story, I looked more into this blogging tool and found that it was actually developed by Twitter’s founders! It was launched back in 2012 by Biz Stone and Evan Williams all in the name of social journalism. This is where things got even more intriguing for me. The ease and simplicity of the platform’s interface is definitely reminiscent of Twitter’s concept. Essentially, it’s a Twitter 2.0 for bigger ideas to be written and shared beyond 140 characters. The accessibility and authority that this platform delivers for its contributors is both amazing and questionable. I’m looking forward to discussing the strengths and weaknesses of social journalism in class. I actually heard today about Google’s Media Tools, a suite of “digital tools that can enhance news-gathering and exposure across television, radio, print and online.” This is yet another example of the growing movement of social journalism. The question still remains, should we embrace it?

2 thoughts on “McLuhan and Google Media Tools

  1. snmarquez

    I definitely got the same feeling when I first encountered stories on Medium. I had a reaction to the site telling the reader how long it will take to read and how many people have liked the piece, as this can influence whether or not someone will read an article in both positive and negative aspects. As well, the whole comment function was really distracting to me.

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