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The medium is not the message. Imagine how tedious newspapers would be if every other story proclaimed "We use INK!!!" -- Andrew Orlowski [1]

Two or more human beings cannot communicate directly. That is, they cannot transfer thoughts between each other minds just like that. Instead, they have to communicate indirectly, through something else in the middle. The bit in the middle is called a medium (plural media). Indeed, any time information has to flow between a data source and one or more data sinks, the information has to flow through a medium. Otherwise, the source and the destination would be the same entity.

Examples of media:

Compare ParaLanguage, WhatIsCommunication, MassMedia, HyperMedium

I'm no way a media expert, but something seems wrong with the list above. It mixes media like Paper, Webpages and Television with content transported on the media, like "Music" or "Speech". I also think that people can communicate "directly", because it doesn't make sense in this context to think of air as a medium for spoken language. A medium introduces the ability to store the content and maybe reproduce or multiply it. Another term useful in this context may be the "media format" (German Medienformat, don't know what it's in English), e. g. the content "Music" might be transported using the media format "Superstar show" through the media "Television". I think that a wiki is a "media format" within the media "World Wide Web". A text about WhatIsaMedium might be printed on the medium "Paper" or written into the medium "Webpage" using the media format of an "Essay" or a "Wikipage". Language seems to be defined on an even lower level. Different languages may be used over the same medium, so I think BodyLanguage is not a medium.

One might try a hierarchy:

Just a few thoughts. -- HelmutLeitner

"Speech" is a medium. The same words have different impact when spoken face to face, sent in email, communicated over the phone, or published in the newspaper. Consider, "John, I think our relationship is over," in each of those four media.

An interesting dissertation about types of media: Davis Fougler's "Medium as Process", here: [2]. See especially the "Typology of Media" in ch. 8.

We could make a distiction between communication mediums (or media) and publication mediums.

A CommunicationMedium? would be a medium allowing one person or group of persons (e.g. a family) to exchange content with another one.

For instance, telephone, mail, smoke clouds are CommunicationMediums?.

A PublicationMedium? would be a medium allowing one person or group of persons (e.g. a Website publisher) to make content available to an audience. In this case, content exchange is not automatic. The audience needs to go and grab the content.

For instance, the WorldWideWeb, television, written press are PublicationMediums? -- JeromeDelacroix

I think you're close, but need to tighten up your definitions. The WorldWideWeb is certainly a communication medium; we are using it right now to communicate. And smoke clouds are announcements to everyone who can see them, so they are more like publications.

Also, even one-to-one communication may be published. I could for instance post a message on your NamePage? here on a wiki, but that would be visible to all. I could comment on your blog. I could post on your FacebookWall?.

So, like KarlPopper would probably say, there can be a PublicMedium? and a PrivateMedium?.

However, in the theory of communication and media, there are already terms available.

However, I believe you are looking for the term BroadCast? medium (instead of PublicationMedium?) which is one-to-many unidirectional communication and CommunicativeMedium? where there is a back-and-forth interchange between parties.

There are other distinctions, one-to-one targeted unidirectional communication, like NarrowCast?ing, TargetedAdvertising?, ContentPersonalization?, and ShapingAlgorithm?s.

Then there are SynchronousMedium?s and AsynchronousMedium?s.

Some primarily unidirectional media do have FeedbackChannel?s, such as radio shows taking in callers. Other media while still unidirectional can still be InteractiveMedia? like video games or laser discs or ChooseYourOwnAdventure novels, thus incorporating predicted audience responses to change what is experienced.

I'd imagine there is some ontology that breaks down the analysis of communication along key dimensions, like

Interestingly, the BiasOfCommunication by Harold Innis attempted to analyze communication media like this and then argue that these dimensions of media altered entire civilizations.

Thank you for your additions, I found particularly interesting the one about the fact a NamePage? on a wiki can be used to communicate one-to-one while the conversation is at the same time public. It would be interesting to dive deeper in the study of WikiAsaMedium?. -- JeromeDelacroix


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