The Medium is the Message

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I woke this morning in the predawn darkness, like I do most mornings, but since it’s Saturday I attempted to fall back asleep. Unfortunately, my brain had already started spinning up all the chores I had in front of my day and once that happens there’s no hope for added slumber. So, I made a pot of coffee and schlepped over to my shop to glue together pieces for a shaper-table stand I’m building.

With classic country gently playing on the portable blue tooth speaker I synced with my Amazon Alexa, I was soon lost in thoughts about assembly, clamping strategies, and ensuring I designed-in enough strength to support the shaper-table. Before long, I found myself appreciating the miracle of glue and wondering how it was discovered that boiling horse hoofs, skin, and bones to collect the collagen (connective tissue) made for a very good glue.

I imagined a farrier in medieval England screwing-up a horseshoeing job for the King and rather than be drawn-&-quartered by the angry noble, the farrier decides to kill the horse. However, in a Shakespearian twist of irony, that decision forces him confront his new dilemma; namely, how to dispose of incriminating evidence? Quickly the farrier hits on the idea to boil the now deceased animal and to accomplish this nefarious task, he fires up a large cauldron and gets busy. The next day, all traces of the once magnificent horse are gone, replaced with a cauldron full of gooey globulins of a super sticky substance.

Did our farrier become rich and famous for his accidental discovery? Was the King so impressed he forgot about his missing stallion and instead knighted this farrier the “Earl of Glue,” much like he had recently done with his poker buddy, the Earl of Sandwich, for making the kingdom’s best poker snacks?

All of that, and this is admittedly a long walk around the horse trough, led me to think about the recently concluded Democratic National Convention. To start, I have to comment on how flawlessly the on-line presentation of the convention was; not the content of what was being said, but for how the DNC website was designed, the way in which information was presented, and the super seamless user-experience. I also have to say how proud I am of my son who designed the website and managed over 10 million users at a time. And what’s really remarkable is he did all that from his 400 square foot apartment a block from National’s Stadium in DC’s Naval Yard district, armed with a single Mac laptop.

I listened with amusement yesterday as conservative radio pundits, who were so staggered by Joe Biden begin able to execute a 20-minute speech that they tried to fabricate the myth Biden’s speech was not live. Sorry Rush, but I have it on good authority from an inside source that Biden’s speech was live. That’s not to say Joe proved he hits on all cylinders all the time, just that he denied conservatives the big blunder they were praying for.

I also observed with amusement all week as conservative pundits tried to cast the virtual DNC as a major media blunder. Initially I bought into this narrative, but then realized I was blaming the medium for the message. I didn’t like hearing speeches from looney liberals who refused to acknowledge their culpability for rioting, looting, and locking down the country unnecessarily. In fact, it made me downright angry and less likely to support any of their candidates.

But just for a moment, separate yourself from content and ask what’s so different about a virtual convention? Other than for the thirty-thousand who usually attend a Democratic or Republican convention for their weeklong incestual love-fest, what was different? I followed this convention the same way I ‘ve followed conventions my entire life; by reading about the speeches post-facto. I am too intelligent to watch network TV with all the hyperbole from un-insightful “experts”. With this year’s on-line version, I could enjoy jumping onto the website, quickly getting the information I needed, and then getting back to the parts of my life that matter, like making a shaper-table stand.

If you’re a conservative and have already convinced yourself next week’s RNC will be orders of magnitude better than the DNC, or a liberal who can’t imagine the RNC besting your convention, I wager it has more to do with the messaging that the medium. Consider this as you relax back in your lazyboy next week to catch one riveting speech after another from politicians who promise so much but have for your entire life delivered so little, is your experience any different this year than the conventions have been for the past thirty years?

Then go on line and review the RNC website to see if you don’t find yourself appreciating the way you can access information you find important, rather than having to depend on network talking heads to tell you how to think. Then imagine a young conservative, filled with idealism and a desire to make a difference, toiling away in an 800 square foot apartment somewhere in DC on a Mac laptop, striving as hard as possible, as hard as their liberal counterpart did the week before, to insure 10 million people can appreciate that sometimes the medium is the essential glue binding the message to your hearts and minds.

And then if you really want to delve into the esoteric, ponder what it means that in the modern age, perhaps the medium has become the message.