/ Media Ecology

The media binding problem

Multisensory integration makes my brain hurt

What was it like for the first organism with two senses?

I’ve been asking myself this for the past little while. I ask myself when I see people around swiping their screen knowing they’re throwing digital balls to capture their next Pokemon. I ask myself when I see another commercial for Samsung Gear VR. I ask myself when I read articles about long form content on Medium, and the amazing rise of podcasting, and even when reading about the latest epidemic of fake news.

The reason I ask, is rooted in McLuhan. If he’s right, and I’m feeling confident he is, then something is happening to Media right under our… senses. It’s merging and stewing. While the backbone of the internet has set the path, the kinks of media amalgamation are still being worked out. Media darwinism is aplenty.

Wittingly, or unwittingly, I think Snapchat is the first true hybrid . The first to break down the walls of traditional mediums.

It’s the first system that, as an internet affluent late 30-something Gen-X/Gen-Y’er, had me stumped. My immediate “I don’t get it” reaction came from the root in my brain that couldn’t classify it.

It’s an ephemeral platform that can post text, picture, video, and augmented reality???

BOOM goes my old man brain.

It was my first exposure to Media. Plural. Capital M. The true idea of multiple senses finally converging. While I feel that I’m pretty progressive in my understanding, I still somehow had a silo’d concept of media: Blogger, Wordpress, Ghost. STOP. iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify. STOP. Youtube, Vimeo, Netflix. STOP.

Sure, you could mix and match. Start reading a blog. CLICK. Watch the embedded video from YouTube. CLICK. Google for the song from that video. CLICK. Listen to that song on Spotify. CLICK.

No matter how small the divide, it was still there. It still is. While I’ve come to terms with my conflict, I’ve also had to come to terms that I have crossed the line. I can now imagine myself as my father when I was showing him how easy the Nintendo controller was, all the while baffled why he had to always stick his tongue out as he swung his arms right & left as he pressed the right and left arrows.

You might think media has already merged. Perhaps this conversation was over in 2015. I disagree. If we were to imagine all five senses of a digital central nervous system, I think we’re only at the very beginning — two.

After all, while there are a small handful of younger superstars, the majority of Digital Natives, 29 and younger, are still in their work force infancy; still at the whim and will of my generation and before. We might mask our media brain farts well; we might be quicker on the up take to “get it”. But only after we’ve stepped aside, or get bulldozed over, do I think the Media merge can speed up the pace.

To all you young whippersnappers, hurry it up, will you? Create things that will confound my brain. Baffle me. I’m optimistic of our media’s future. Although I feel it’s in a bit of a rocky place, I also feel that this too shall pass. Media evolution will right the course. As long as it’s only a small fraction of platforms that cause this late 30-something to stop and think “I don’t get it”, don’t think for a moment that we’re even close to the end of the Media road.

Nick Kempinski

Nick Kempinski

Armchair communications thinker refusing to say "full stack developer". I'm on the web; I do things.

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