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A Tribal Community in a Digital Age

Marshall McLuhan is famous for his conclusion that “the medium is the message” and for identifying four specific historical eras with corresponding technological developments.

If we are to accept McLuhan’s Media Map of History I would say as we find ourselves a decade in to the 21st century, we are now certainly in the Digital Age that Wire Magazine coined in the early 90’s and the extensive online communities so many people engage in on this side of the digital divide as a collective is the corresponding technical development.

When I saw this mocked up vintage ad for Twitter, it got me thinking about this new medium. About how some people embrace it so quickly, so easily, so naturally. While others are ambivalent, hesitant or even fearful about engaging with the new frontier of communication technology.

What I love about this ad is how it positions Twitter in the same light as television or reel to reel technology. That it uses the language and imagery of the late 40’s early 50’s in an ad for a 21st century technology.

I think the message of this ad is that today Twitter and social media communities are the equivalent of how society greeted television in the mid-20th century. And how TV was at one point a new marvel; today it is commonplace and prolific and that in 60 years time, this is exactly how society will feel about Twitter. What do you think?

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One Response

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  1. ashley says

    Considering the speed at which society advances through technology, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if Twitter will be treated as commonplace in the near future. But as we observed in class, television may soon become obsolete, which might be the case with social media in a few decades. Twitter itself has yet to really catch on – most of the people I talk to find it pointless. But I think as a society we are beginning to embrace it, as your advertisement suggests. I can see this shift within the company I work for. Last year we had Twitter and all social media blocked. This year, none of it is. Why? Twitter, Facebook, etc are becoming so common and a means of communication that is necessary that we have access to it in order to market and to follow other companies in the industry. In response to your question, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if, someday, we see Twitter and other forms of social media as a necessity within our society. But, as with television, I can also imagine that someday we find something to replace it, and it will, in turn, become obsolete.

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