If you attended one of my sessions about Web 2.0, seen my presentation files or read my article published in the March issue of CASE’s Currents, you might have a vague idea of where I’m going with the headline of this post.
But, if you don’t – here’s just a quick excerpt from the initial draft of the piece I wrote for Currents:
In 1964, Herbert Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian professor of English Literature and a communication theorist wrote Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. In this book, he developed the theory that media have an impact on society beyond the content they delivered. McLuhan coined in this book the famous and sometimes over-used phrase: â€œthe medium is the message.â€
If McLuhan was still among us today, thereâ€™s no doubt he would have followed closely Web 2.0. Unfortunately, he died in 1980. As a result, we can only speculate on how he would have described this paradigm shift in communication.
Traditional media such as newspapers, radio or TV can deeply transform messages. With the rise of Web2.0-driven social media, the traditional communication schema — a message crafted by an organization and delivered via a set number of identified media to target audiences — has become obsolete.
Today, the conversation is the message.
I came up with “the conversation is the message” in August 2006 when I was working on the presentation for the CASE conference. I studied McLuhan’s work in graduate school, and his catchy phrase stuck after all those years (well, it was not THAT long ago).
Anyway, “the conversation is the message” has come back at me this week in an email exchange with Andrea Jarrell. She’s working on a follow-up piece for Currents focusing on the Web 2.0 denial syndrome (my words, hers were “fear and loathing in Web 2.0”) in higher ed communication offices.
I can’t wait to read Andrea’s article in the September issue of Currents, because she’s definitely right on target. People always fear change, and Web 2.0 is a big change for marketing, PR and communications folks.
For some, the denial stage — it’s just a fad — has just begun. So, it might be helpful to look at what some editors and reporters covering higher education have been doing lately:
- The Chronicle of Higher Education has started to offer some excellent online video reports produced by Jeff Young. In July, it will launch Tech Therapy, a podcast based on questions asked by readers. And, they’ve been blogging for a while now.
- US and World News Reports has launched a blog to
defendexplain its college rankings: Morse Code. Comments are still off, but I’m hopeful the magazine will finally get the memo on blogs and comments
- Inside Higher Ed has hired Dean Dad as one of their in-house bloggers.
- At University Business, Editor Tim Goral has invited readers to write a whole issue of the magazine about the state of higher education (BTW, you have until August 6 to submit a piece). What better proof that the conversation is the message when it starts to be printed?
- Even CASE’s Currents might soon go 2.0 as a group of alumni professionals are using a wiki to research and write an article on how the Internet is changing alumni communications, article that will be submitted for publication this Fall.