So I'm reading McLuhan's Understanding Media
. His classification of any medium as either hot
is especially interesting. He says a hot
medium is high definition, low on interactivity, specialized, and usually limited to one sense. Examples of hot media he gives are radio, film, and books. Cool
, on the other hand is low-fi, interactive, generalized, and engages more senses. The telephone, comics, and TV are classified as cool
by Marshall. I realize this distinction is a continuum, not black and white. (I think read somewhere that Baudrillard, using this scheme, called all media cool.) But it's still useful for thinking about a system in general instead of focusing on content. So I asked the following question to try to understand this metaphor better:
Are weblogs a hot or cool medium? (there are arguments for both.)
- primarily text
- immediate (thought to publish)
- structured (loosely by time)
- one sense (visual)
- chatty, spoken word
- casually constructed
- not usually "packaged" (random observations)
- non-specialized (thanks to weblog tools)
Based on this, I think I would call weblogs a cool medium that used to be hot.
He goes on to classify cultures as either hot or cool, and makes predictions about how temperatue clash can affect them.
I'm still having trouble with the clissifications. Shows like X-Files or ER seem to make TV a hot medium, while talk shows and "reality" TV seem to make it a cool medium. But then I'm missing the point about not focusing on content.
Anyway, great book. :)