McLuhan Understood?

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While I agree with Ruth P. Stevens' column "Post-Bubble Internet Marketing," I fear that her New York University graduate students might challenge her regarding her assertion that the Internet is a "cool" medium because it cannot create an emotional bond or tell a story as powerfully as television in the sense of Marshall McLuhan.

McLuhan's point about the "temperature" of a medium is not its emotional tug, but its "sense of high definition, or state of being well-filled with data," in McLuhan's terms.

For example, a cartoon is a cool medium (low definition) and a photograph is hot (high definition). Speech is a cool medium of low definition because so little is given and so much has to be filled in by the listener. McLuhan determined that a movie was a hot medium while TV was a cool medium, though that may have changed since the 1950s.

It has nothing to do with the emotional tug it creates or any other content, only the nature of the experience and the delivery of information.

So what is the Internet in these terms?

It gives a lot of information and also demands intense interaction with the user.

Is it cool or hot? Who cares?

As a marketer, the Internet can make me shiver and sweat at the same time. Of course, analyzing any report on a direct response campaign can often cause the same effect.

Jerry Michaud, Chief marketing officer, Memberdrive Inc., Fairfax, VA


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