The following response is the first of many for GD312, one of my classes in Winter Term 2021. Enjoy. . . I guess?
The theories brought forth by Marshall McLuhan, which grade varying forms of media over a hot/cold spectrum determined by levels of immersion/engagement, respectively, are what I believe to be a rather inaccurate and incomplete way of categorizing media. As technologies merge, split, and coexist, any definitive means of categorization in accordance with McLuhan’s theories simply fail to make sense over any period of time. In fact, individuals themselves and how they interact with a particular form of media is much more accurate in determining the level of hot/cold according to McLuhan’s spectrum. As society has evolved, we have seen user intimacy vary and bounce from object to object. While an AM radio may have magnetized a mid-century nuclear family into the corner of their living room, the same cannot be said today, where an object such as a television or gaming console would be much more appropriate. While new technologies rarely succeed in fully replacing more obsolete forms of media, it is safe to say that more primitive devices often get placed on the “back burner” in terms of daily use in modern society.
With that said, I am curious as to what possessed McLuhan to come up with such a system. If one was to classify multiple forms of media, wouldn’t it make greater sense to create a scale based on engagement with the user alone. I feel as though this would be much more effective and potentially less confusing that the spectrum that McLuhan brought forth. Rather than saying something HAS to be immersive OR engaging, couldn’t we simply say that (x) form of media results in greater user interaction than not?
McLuhan had his merits in that he sought a categorical means of inclusivity for all forms of media. However, we now understand that this system wasn’t without its wrongs and often misleading results, especially as time and technologies evolved. What we can learn from McLuhan is that there often simpler means of making categorizations that are just as, if not more effective in sorting forms of media. As the bridge between reality and virtuality grows closer, it will be interesting to see how McLuhan’s theories and principles will apply.