Thursday, April 13, 2006
The message is the
I'm not going to get all McLuhan tonight. Don't have the time. But I'm increasingly moved, impressed, amused and freaked out by the way in which things are other things.
When I first heard, "The medium is the message" -- McLuhan's seminal aphorism -- I thought, "No it ain't." I was about 16 at the time, and the idea that the message wasn't the message was appalling to me. Sure, the medium was important. But the medium "is" the message? That's just too... too. At about 21, I admitted that, perhaps, the medium is a large part of the message. That the medium pervades the messages. That the statement was meant to be broad for effect. That, that, that... Feh.
By about 30, I was convinced. The medium is the message. Yes, Marshall... you were right.
And I wish you were alive, now, to see the what's going on with Web mash-ups, Web 2.0, the seminal-web, interactive-metadata, call it what you want. But it's just... well, MM would have simply said, "cool."
There's an old math game you play, where one person lists numbers in a sequence, and the other person then has to figure out what the next number is. 2, 4, 6, 8... 10! Right. 1,2,3,5,7...11! Well, here's one for you:
3, 3, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 4, 3, 6, 6 ___
What's that next number? Don't scroll down until you give yourself a bit of a chance here.
Give up? It's 8.
Why? Because the numbers in the sequence equal the number of letters in the words for the numbers in the sequence. Hunh? Like this:
one = 3 (o, n, e)
two = 3 (t, w, o)
three = 5 four = 4 five = 4 six = 3 seven = 5 eight = 5 nine = 4 ten = 3 eleven = 6 twelve = 6
thirteen = 8
See? Numbers are words. And words have numbers of letters. That's a double transposition.
Who cares? See the pictures of the letters at the top of this post? It was created using a Flickr mashup called "Spell with Flickr." You type in a word, the code (pretty simple code, too.. no offense) finds Flickr pics that match for pics of those letters. Voila! You have words made of pictures of letters.
That's the second Flickr mashup I discovered today that treats pictures as something other/more than the sum of their pixels. Krazydad's Colr Pickr lets you choose a color from an RGB wheel and see thumbnails of random Flickr pics with high RGB saturations that meet your selection criteria. There are also buttons on the bottom that let you see Flickr images with various other filters like flowers, graffiti and macro.
Some will see this and say, "Yeah... big deal. Just another way to search. A bit more intuitive and intelligent, but is it really that big a deal?"
I say... it's getting there. It's getting close to a large "McLuhan Moment."
Numbers are words are letters are pictures are colors are flowers are close-ups of graffiti. If the medium is the message, and we are rearranging the medium on-the-fly... if the medium is mashable...
The message has always been open to interpretation.
Now... are we at the point where the medium is, too?