McLuhan's Tetrads - part of research for MA in Applied Theology
Marshall McLuhan is famous for the idea that "The medium is the message", the concept that the medium of communication is more powerful, significant, and culturally transformative than its content.
He would argue that the existence of television, for example, has changed society much more than the programmes that are shown on television.
As a tool for considering the characteristics of a communications medium, he developed a 'tetrad', four effects that a medium will demonstrate;
Enhancement (what does it magnify -
Mobile phones magnify accessibility & interpersonal communication)
Obsolescence (what does it replace -
Mobile phones replace the phonebox but also privacy and anonymity)
Retrieval (what does it bring back that was lost in the previous medium -
Mobile phones retrieve speaking & listening (from letters & the telegraph), tribal cultures and cameras)
Reversal (How does the medium 'flip', when pushed to extremes, often the exact opposite purpose it was created for -
Mobile phones have flipped from audio / oral devices to text messaging devices, they have also flipped from making us easily accessible to being increasingly 'on call')
So, my 5(½) questions...
What does Twitter enhance?
Motorways, for example, enhance journey speed and smoothness
What does Twitter make obsolete / replace?
Motorways, tend to replace minor roads
What does Twitter retrieve / bring back?
Motorways retrieve a love of travel and increased mobility
How might Twitter reverse / flip when taken to its limit?
When pushed to their limits, motorways flip by actually increasing congestion and extending journey times
do you wish to explain any of your answers or add anything extra?
How long have you been using twitter?
Never / Rarely
More than 5 years
If you use twitter, can I encourage you to answer two more?
How would you describe your twitter use?
select the option below the most appropriate number
I read tweets but don't tend to write any
I write tweets but don't tend to read other people's
Do you tend to follow
Mostly celebrities and well known people
Mostly anyone who seems interesting
A balance of the two
Mostly just friends and family
Never submit passwords through Google Forms.
This content is neither created nor endorsed by Google.
Terms of Service