Oh, you hashtag on Facebook?

Exploring the medium and the message with a guy called McLuhan





You would’ve arrived at this blog post through a few different ways. Perhaps you one day decided to follow this blog (have since forgotten you did) and got an unexpected email telling you how I managed to add another post (you lucky thing). You could have randomly seen the post pop up on the WordPress feed, or you could have stumbled across it because I tagged this post with something you were searching for (bcm112 maybe?). For the sake of this post I hope it was the latter. But I do like followers. Followers are good.

So why am I so interested in whether you found me through a tag or not?

Because I am on a mission to follow a technology or media platform and look into the ways in which it’s shaping our culture and our actions in society. The evolution of the online world’s tagging system, particularly the hash tag, is something I find quite remarkable. Remember when the hash key was just that useless symbol under the nine key, used only in automated calls? I do.

Respect earned hash key.

Image: vampirediaries.wikia.com

So Who’s McLuhan?

Mark Federman in his text What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? talks about the “McLuhan Equation” in exploration of ‘unanticipated consequences’ that derive from a new invention or innovation (2004). He says that the “Medium is the Message,” (McLuhan 1964). In this case, the medium is the tag, connecting and categorising information, thoughts, ideas and people across multiple media platforms. The message? We are in a state of change. We turn the hash tag into a message by reading it, by using it to filter through information, creating new ways of writing, reading and using media.

So What?

What’s significant is how such social and structural changes can effect industries, technology and audiences. Embedded in it’s very definition, convergence relates to the migratory behaviour of media audiences. Throughout such social and structural changes audiences modify and adopt to the use of the technology. How many people have you seen use a hash tag on a platform that clearly doesn’t support it? It is such behaviour and use that drive technological change. The success of the hash tag itself is driven by consumer use, giving it potential to emerge across technologies that otherwise don’t use a tagging system – Facebook?

Image: copyscrawler.blogspot.com

Image: copyscrawler.blogspot.com

And what about the effects on industries? Offline industries are incorporating the tagging system from other social media platforms to keep up with and interact with audiences of digital convergence (The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon anyone?).

These are issues I hope to explore over the upcoming posts, but for now here’s Jimmy Fallon.

McLuhan, Marshall. (1964) Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. New York: McGraw Hill.
Federman, M. (2004). What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? Retrieved 17/03/2014 from


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