Marshall McLuhan’s Theory

Does analyzing the effects of media help our understanding of design?

Media outlets and their place in society is constantly changing, which means as designers, understanding the different effects of media is vital to spreading our stories. From radio to television, to snapchat and facebook, each of these platforms provide a unique service and attract different audiences. Analyzing these differences and why individuals are drawn to certain outlets can help inform how designers decide to express their messages. For instance, those who use Facebook are viewed as an older audience with different interests and agendas compared to Snapchat users who depend on fast and instantaneous results. Facebook users come across much more text and long videos while Snapchat users interact with mostly photos. Analyzing these differences and why they are designed in these ways helps us realize the underlying audience and their ultimate agendas. 

Marshall McLuhan’s states that each media platform is set on a scale from hot to cold depending on the audience’s participation and interaction. Although controversial, McLuhan makes valid points about how these platforms are consumed which can help designers understand how users interact with their work. Making information subtle or obvious can drastically influence the audience’s participation, potentially making the audience work harder to understand the message. 

McLuhans makes it clear that his scale is set but I believe that each individual has a unique way of interacting with media. Radio could be very interactive for one individual but not for another. Knowing this can also help our understanding of design because we know that everyone interprets design differently. We can’t assume that the way we see things is the same as our peers. 

He also states that what has been communicated is less important than the particular medium through which people communicate. Although I do not believe this statement to be true, he makes an intriguing argument. He brings up how the radio’s purpose is to bring people together, not to bring them information. This idea can help designers understand other aspects of media besides the initial information. McLuhan’s point demonstrates that the media influences more aspects of our lives than we initially thought. 

McLuhan makes it clear that media is constantly influencing the way we live and see the world around us. As designers we need to understand the immense power we hold when we decide to take part in delivering messages. Analyzing the effect that media has on our society can make designers more aware of their roles as storytellers and how to most efficiently tell those stories. 


My Manifesto

Hi everyone.

My name is Emily Cook and I am a Junior at Oregon State University studying Graphic Design and Marketing. In terms of design I am passionate about finding creative ways to solve problems and bringing visual elements to life. I am interested in Brand Design and User Interface Design but I am still exploring all the outlets design has to offer. I see myself as a minimalistic designer who focuses on creating content that contains a deeper meaning. Although I don’t know exactly where I will end up in the design world, I see myself in the digital world and aspire to create work that informs and improves people’s lives.