Ideas influence thought and society’s direction, but do the way people consume ideas affect the way they process them?
The medium that is used to convey a message affects the way it is received. However, all mediums have their place and can be used in constructive ways to convey information.
Philosopher and media theorist Marshal McLuhan coined the expression, “the medium is the message.” What McLuhan meant by that is that the message one conveys is fundamentally different depending on which medium is used. For example, we have an idea being conveyed in book and website.
A book is linear in nature and all will experience the same written information in the same way. A website with tabs can convey much more diversity in how information is displayed. Someone can go to any tab or link within a web page and can absorb the information in a random fashion. Film, on the other hand, is observed linearly.
This idea is supported by a University of California, Berkley, study called the “Humanizing’ Voice,” which found that people respond better to opinions that are different from their own when they are heard rather than when they are read. This is because they are reminded that there is a real human relaying opinions, whereas it is easier to disconnect with the author of written text.
The medium itself can say a lot about view and change views just as much as the content.
When it comes to learning, Kourtney Rocky, master of science major with a PPS in school counseling, said different learning styles need different mediums.
“As far as perception goes, it depends on your learning style. You have people who learn audibly, you have people who learn visually … I don’t think one is better,” Rocky said.
Dr. Erin Smith, associate professor of psychology, said books and digital media can be beneficial.
“It really depends on how you use them … I don’t think there is an inherent advantage of books over digital media, but with digital media it is harder to avoid the pitfalls of distraction,” Smith said.
The current evidence conveys that while information is perceived differently based upon medium, all forms of media have value.