Medium is the Massage
a touch of punk reverse engineering


The dualism between medium and message, or pipes and bytes is rejected on the basis of complexity theory and ecological psychology. There is a distinction, but the two are ‘entangled’, to borrow a metaphor from quantum physics. McCluhan famously said “ the medium is the massage”, which is an ironic play on “the medium is the message”, and deliberately so. The point he is making is that if the medium is invidious and subliminal enough, (which applies particularly to television), it ‘massages’ the viewer into a state of comfort, in which critical faculties are often suspended (because it looks so ‘cool’ – in McCluhan’s sence of ‘cool’ versus ‘hot’ media – television versus text, as well as in the more general sense of ‘cool’ as appealing and comfortable, which derives of course, from McCluhan’s innovative use of the term).

The task of punk multimodality is to turn around this invidious massaging, and suspension of critical faculties, but in the ‘coolest’ way: not by confronting and rejecting the massaging media (and the subliminal messages within them) but by embracing them, mashing them up together, and putting them back into circulation in punk mass media such as social software.

Nested Narratives can contribute to punk multimodality, by creating the ‘facility’ and ‘facilities’ for people to explore, articulate, reflect, mash-up, explore, articulate (etc) their own tacit, implicit, subliminal learning, feelings, emerging identities, and to put them back (if they wish to) into circulation in social software. So Nested Narratives could be seen as a modest innovation in this kind of post-McCluhan facilitative software.