What’s the WordPress message?
Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase ‘The Medium is the Message“. The medium you are currently reading is WordPress or more generically, a blog. The idea that a medium has certain characteristics to it seems reasonable. If I were talking to you on a movie screen in a theater, instead of here in text on a blog, you’d probably have a much different experience, even if I used the same words.
However, if I were authoring this communication for presentation on a big screen, I think I would write is differently… much differently. I would also expect a different audience, a different promotional strategy and a different business model.
The WordPress blog, as a medium, is very inexpensive to produce. Almost everyone who has a computer and internet access can write a blog. The financial barrier is extremely low and the software is easy to use. Contrast that to the barriers to producing a TV station or publishing a newspaper. Freedom of the press belongs to those who have a WordPress.
People sometimes talk about the sweeping changes created by innovations in media. McLuhan spoke of how each new medium causes something to become obsolete and retrieves something else from obsolescence. WordPress, it seems to me, might render some newspaper editorial pages obsolete. Certainly, the letter to the editor and much of opinion has been replaced along with the gate-keeping function of the editorial descision makers at newspapers.
This idea of gate-keeper is an intermediary who sits between a consumer and the un-winnowed masses of consumables. This gate keeper chooses only the ‘best’ material to proffer to that person who will consumer. The better gate-keeper also finds out what that consumer wants and passes that information back to the producers. The better gate-keeper may also go to some length to cultivate and reward better products in order to insure availability. There are other valuable things an intermediary does.
The downside of intermediaries is that, as a consumer, you have to depend on someone else to select for you and they may not always serve your particular interests well. As a producer, you may not find an intermediary who is will to give you access to consumers on a desirable basis.
In the information world, the search engine has come along and given consumers a better information selector. Having a search engine is like having your own personal newsdesk editor trying to fill your personal ‘news hole’ with absolutely whatever your momentary whim might wish for at whatever level of detail you might desire. The search engine is the new editor and producers are in fierce competition jockying for access to consumers via search engines.
There are some things that the Internet have not eliminated the need for. We still need producers, journalists gathering news and organizing its presentation. We need ways to pay for that. Perhaps we don’t need fleets of delivery trucks, printing presses or even editors.
People who own gas stations found out some time back that people do not want gas jockeys. The self serve gas station came was developed over time. Now, you have the pay-at-the-pump gas station. In this gas station evolution there are a loss of jobs and a loss of social interaction between gas jockeys and customers.
A WordPress blog creates a ‘newshole’. The blogger must find a way to fill that hole regularly or traffic will dry up. I have found it useful to have an ‘editorial calendar’ which is just a list of topics and suggested dates when I can do a write up on the topic.
But there is more to a blog, or any informational art form. McLuhan also said ‘The Medium is the Massage‘ in that it massages or stimulates the intellect or the senses. WordPress, then, is also a masseuse of the brain.