The Mashup Is The Message

NYT: For decades, nearly every gathering of media or technology executives has defined the future in a single word: convergence. What exactly was converging remained in dispute, but most saw some combination of television, computers and an intelligent network that would give consumers much more control.
For once, the visionaries were right. Video is popping up on cellphones, iPods, TiVo’s and Web sites. And as for blogs, photo-tagging sites like Flickr, podcasts and the rest of the bubbling digital stew, it’s clear that lots of media are coming together in lots of devices in lots of ways.
Yet for all the time that media executives – from the towers of Sixth Avenue to the back lots of Burbank – had to prepare for convergence, they are now scrambling to figure out what to do about it.
One thing is clear—McLuhan is out. The medium is no longer the message. Anyone who wants to tell a joke, spin a tale or report the latest White House news can produce any combination of video, text, sound and pictures for viewing on a 50-inch TV, a laptop computer or a cellphone screen.
Anyone can create a “mashup” by putting together pieces from any medium and any source, distributing it to anyone anywhere. Today, it’s the mashup that is the message.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. I’d just ran across this article, David, which sorta dovetails: “Is Media a Commodity?”

  2. That McLuhan reference is misused. McLuhan’s maxim refers to understanding the nature of technological innovation (or other human creation) by noticing changes in society.
    Check out this explanation: “What is the Meaning of The Medium is the Message?”

  3. I agree with B. Aubert. The NYT’s Saul Hansell should know better, being a ‘media’ participant. As for McLuhan being ‘out’ and mashups in, he should read this:
    “By examining the narrative arc of McLuhan’s work ……we reveal the hidden ground that is the fifth law of media: What current medium does the new medium “put on,” or satirize?”
    A mashup is just an extension.

  4. I appreciate you fine gentlepersons for contributing such key insights. McLuhan isn’t the easiest cat to figure out.