But Wait: Are You Hot, Or Is Your Media?
Articles Blog

But Wait: Are You Hot, Or Is Your Media?

On Idea Channel, we talk about
TV shows, cultural practices, web ephemeral, video games. We try to take seriously,
but not too seriously parts of the cultural
landscape many people wouldn’t expect worthy of serious takes. And we do that through the lens
of theory– critical theory, media theory, whatever
it is [INAUDIBLE] does. Sometimes, those
theories are interesting or complicated enough to warrant
examination on their own. So today, and in future
episodes like this one, we’re going to talk
about and pick apart one theory, in particular,
to see if how much it helps us make sense
of the world around us. We’re going to call
these videos “But Wait.” [MUSIC PLAYING] What makes one medium
different from another? I mean, there are
obvious differences. Books are made of paper–
or they used to be. Films are made of celluloid–
or they used to be. But do those differences account
for the full breadth of how we experience each differently? Probably not. Reading isn’t the
same as watching. And watching isn’t
the same as listening. But often, even reading
isn’t the same as reading. Watching isn’t the same
as watching, and so on. One theory for describing
the differences between media comes from famed media theorist,
public intellectual, Canadian, and haircut haver,
Marshall McLuhan. If you’ve only heard one
the thing about this guy, it’s probably his pronouncement
that the medium is the message. But McLuhan was a
prolific writer, lecturer, and pontificator on all things
media, especially television and advertising. He filled the role we don’t
really have today– rock star media theorist. Sure, I mean, we do have
public intellectuals. But mostly, they’re associated
with the hard sciences. You got your Neils, your
Bills, your Stevens. But when it comes to people
who talk about media or culture today, we don’t
really have anyone who rolls as deep as McLuhan did. McLuhan had a large and
often captive audience to lay no shortage of theory on. His work stretches into many
corners of media, culture, and technology studies. And in one of those
corners sits his theory about hot and cold media. In his hugely influential book,
“Understanding Media,” McLuhan provides a framework
for thinking of different media–
like, television, print, writing systems, radio,
the phone, films– as either hot or cold. He puts his distinction in
deceptively clear terms. A hot medium extends one single
sense in high definition, while a cool medium is,
quote, “low definition.” High definition, hot
medium, McLuhan says, don’t require as much
audience participation. While cool media require
more participation. Oh, and he also uses cold
and cool interchangeably. Not cool, Marshall. Or should I say, not cold. Anyway, example time. Radio is hot because
it focuses singularly on the sense of hearing. It communicates its intended
message entirely via a sound. And radio producers work
very, very hard to do that. They develop manner
to delivery techniques to careful editing and mixing,
and so on and so forth. There’s no room for
participation between sender and receiver because
radio was designed with a passive listener in mind. It’s dense with
information, making it high definition, which may
also make a bit more sense considering our main
man Marshall was writing in the mid-20th century. So anyways, radio– hot. Speech, on the other
hand, is a cool medium because it requires tons
of supporting information to get a message across. Human vocal cords can
make all sorts of sounds. [WHISTLING] Fly me to the [INAUDIBLE]. But not nearly as many
as an AM/FM system and connected speaker. It was good, dishonest
work up in New York. And what sounds vocal
cords can produce– and mostly we’re talking
about speech now– often requires significant
interpretation. In McLuhan’s words,
quote, “so little is given and so much has to be filled
in by the listener,” end quote, when it comes to speech. That interpretation
between sender and receiver is an essential
characteristic of cool media. It’s artful, symbolic,
and multi-streamed. Photographs are hot because they
are for the eye in the same way radio is a that ear. Cartoons are cool because
they are low definition and require symbolic
interpretation and, therefore, participation. The telephone is also
cool because in the ’60s it was very low definition and
more like speech then radio. Surprisingly, for
McLuhan, movies are hot and television is cool. Let’s talk about that. McLuhan sees television
as cool because it requires endless participation,
but not in the way that you probably think. With the TV, “the viewer
is the screen,” he writes. McLuhan describes TV
images as low definition. Literally, lower quality
than film images. “The TV image is
visually low in data,” he writes, and compares
it to ancient handwritten manuscripts. We have to labor
on the visual field to assemble its low quality
approximation into the image it hopes to become. By comparison, the film image
is more like the printed word, he says. Precise, exacting, and
even, quote, “scientific.” McLuhan says movies
are hot because they’re direct and intense. Audience participation is
low because, like radio, the content is
very well-defined. Its quality is very high. The audience needn’t work too
hard to perceive or understand the film image,
which, remember, is different from the
story told by it. McLuhan sees movies as
fidelitous and natural. He talks of the sheer
quantities of data contained in each
film frame, and how films can capture realities. Armed now with some
background, I’m going to leave it
to you to figure out why McLuhan would say
that a lecture is hot but a seminar is cool. Why paper and the
phonetic alphabet are hot, but stone tablets,
hieroglyphics, and idiographic writing
systems are cool. Now though hot and cold
involves talk of work, quality, and participation, there’s
no real value judgment here. McLuhan tips his
hand occasionally and suggests what media and
characteristics he thinks are more fun. But he’s not hanging signs
reading, hot media rules and cool media drools. Really, as the title
of his book suggests, he’s providing a way
to understand media as an extension of people. In this case, how stimulus
relates to involvement. Hot media provides
lots of stimulus, requires little involvement. Cold media– a little
stimulus and requires lots of involvement. Or, as McLuhan put it in
short, the hot form excludes. The cold one includes. But wait, hot and cold is nice. And it does answer our
question about the differences between media. But there are a few holes in the
hull of this theoretical boat. One of the more
common criticisms of McLuhan’s distinction
is that hot v. cold, like all dichotomies,
is actually just false. Ruth and Elihu Katz point
out that McLuhan often does talk of certain media being
cooler or hotter than others, which they say indicates a
relational aspect to this idea. Hot versus cold isn’t a
rigid binary distinction, in other words. Speech may be cool, but
it’s arguably hotter than talking on the phone. Television is cool. But by comparison, I imagine
McLuhan would see the internet as positively frigid. Another criticism is not just
of hot and cold, specifically, but McLuhan, generally. It concerns, ironically,
his frequent conflation of medium and message. Or maybe, more accurately,
form and content. There’s no necessary correlation
between any one medium and the quality or
definition of its content. There’s no guarantee that,
because a medium has supported or popularized
particular practices, it must or always will. McLuhan treats each medium as a
monolith– stable, consistent, and recognizable by the
features of its content. This again, might have
to do with McLuhan’s era. In the 1960s, radio,
television, and film were, arguably, much
more monolithic. The main counterargument
that I’m interested in is one that has to do
with McLuhan’s ideas about participation. Cold media, he says, are more
participatory than hot media, which are dense, precise,
and meaningful, therefore, requiring less work on the
part of their audience. I would wager this
distinction has nothing to do with the
medium and everything to do with the
audience, by which I mean there are no hot and cold
media, but hot and cold people. The first thing to
get out of the way is the idea that basically
all media are interactive. Artworks, radio,
movies, television, podcasts– interactive. Even if you’re just sitting
there taking them in, you have an active role
in their existence. When reading, you may
picture a setting. Watching a movie,
you may consider the motivations
of the characters or just the beauty of the shots. Reading comics, you laugh. Listening to the
radio, you think, I like this, or too many ads. All of these things are active. And all of these things
are participation. To not participate
in a piece of media, you must not experience it. The participation that
McLuhan writes about has to do with the
work audiences do in constituting
some piece of media through their experience of it. But to say that participation
is determined, limited, or extended by the media itself
seems really strange to me. I think it’s fair to say
that a certain media may stereotypically be
considered lower definition. But to assume radio,
movies, or recorded music’s higher-quality production, give
them an authority or clarity, which lets audiences
off the hook as far as taking an active role in
assembling the final product. I’m not so sure. For me, at least,
participation is different at different times, inconsistent
within a particular medium. There are certain
films which would feel much lower definition
then certain comic books. And a fire difference,
I think, in the stimulus/involvement
relationship of different novels, even if
it’s always just text or even just text on paper. This relationship is
influenced by story. Sure, but also greatly
affected by the way creators take advantage
of the capabilities and limitations of their
medium and how I respond. If for others,
that participation ends up being the same across
a particular medium, that has more to do with them than
the medium itself, I think. We always bring ourselves, our
experiences and expectations, to the media we interact with. To determine participation
by a medium or its quality is to ignore, I think, the
state of the self, the media ecosystem, and the relationship
between those two things. Media are not hot or cold, but
to put it McLuhan’s terms– people hot up and cool down
in response to the media they consume. This is the usefulness
of McLuhan’s theory. It frames the idea that our
participation with media fluctuates. Maybe not between and because
of the characteristics of each particular medium,
but it does so nonetheless. Radio may not be all hot
all the time for all people. And the internet may
not be a frozen tundra for each and every person firing
up Chrome or Internet Explorer. Let’s be honest. Rather than comparing
one media monolith to another in some grand,
totalizing fashion, hot and cold gives
us two things. One, some potential insight into
how media was used and viewed in mid-century North America. And two, a way to theorize
around our ever-shifting states and responses to
media and its content, showing us that while it may
not be cool, maybe we are. You’re cool. We’re gonna be cool. You’re so cool. What do you all think? Is media hot or cold? let us know in the comments and
I will respond to some of them in next week’s comment
response video. In this week’s comment
response video, we talk about your
thoughts regarding artificial intelligence and
how it wrote an Idea Channel script. If you want to
watch that one, you click here, or find a
link in the doobly doo. In case you missed it,
I was on Mental Floss this last week talking
about America’s Birthday. We’ll also put a link to
that in the description, if you want to watch it. We have a Facebook, an
IRC, and a subreddit links in the doobly doo. And the tweet of the week
comes from Ingrid Henkel, who did a line-by-line
interpretation of the AI-generated video. And it is very interesting. So she says that she’s never
watch an Idea Channel episode. Doesn’t really know what
the show is about and so came at it from a completely,
like, sort of, I guess, maybe neutral standpoint. And the stuff that she gets
out of the AI-generated script is very interesting. If you read to no
other interpretation of AI-generated gibberish
this week, make it that’s one.

100 thoughts on “But Wait: Are You Hot, Or Is Your Media?

  1. If you're saying radio is Hot media, how do we fit in things like podcasts, especially ones like Welcome to Night Vale or, dare I say, Serial or Someone Knows Something? Does the fact that they get you, as a listener, thinking shift the scale?

    Also, totally forgot about the premise of "But Wait" before when writing this. :p

  2. I think some media necessarily require higher or lower levels of minimum participation. Of course not all movies, for example, have the same participation requirement or lack there of. But it's like this: the hottest novel in the world will always be a great deal colder than the hottest movie in the world. Movies have a higher hotness potential, novels have a higher potential for coldness. The hottest movie is probably something like a high budget action movie or something where the only participation required of the audience is to follow the physical motion, and keep track of some character motivations. Meanwhile even a pretty mindless page turner of novel requires the audience to invent sounds, sensations, images and motion in their minds. You can have cold movies too of course, some of which might be far colder than most books, but a book could always be even colder.

  3. When are you going to stop teasing us and make a chapter on House of leaves?
    Btw nice episode, it's great to set a standard so we all know what your are talking about when you talk about different theories!

  4. One thing I'm unsure I understand is the difference or lack there of between "definition" and "audience participation" for determining hotness/coldness. They're not really distinguished but they seem like different things. From this video (i've never read Mcluhan) it seems there's audience participation which is what it sounds like i.e: how much effort an audience has to make to enjoy a medium. Whereas "definition," which is maybe where I'm confused but it seems to be the density of information provided soley by a work and it's author without need for the audience to infer or inject any of their own knowledge to keep up. One place where I see the difference between those two things is video games. On the one hand a given moment in a modern videogame can be extremely high definition that is very information rich. There's visuals full of texture and motion, dialogue and sounds and music. And most videogame require very little in the way of inference, or speculation simply to understand what's going on (although I can already think of numerous exceptions to that. But videogames are also the ultimate medium of required audience participation. They don't even work without a high level of audience participation. So are videogames hot for their high definition methods of conveying key information or cold for their inability to be experienced passively? Or am I misunderstanding a key aspect of this concept? Genuinely interested in feedback.

  5. So, first, this is kind of over my head and seems like an almost arbitrary classification that doesn't much enrich the world around us by its standards of classification, but hey, I'm not a media philosopher.

    Alright, that out of the way I'm going to operate off my best understanding of what was presented and throw video games out there to hopefully really gum up the works. How would you classify Pong vs, say, Chrono Trigger vs Bioshock vs The Witness in VR? Pong would be very cold, right? Since it's ultra-low-res and requires direct input to manipulate, but on the other hand wouldn't it also be really hot because direct interaction is merely pressing up or down? In Chrono Trigger, you are a silent protagonist. You are not just supposed to relate to Crono, but AS Crono. How does this fall into the standard? Keep in mind it's still low-res by today's standards and direct interaction is limited. Bioshock enters 3D and expands upon interaction massively but it also high-res. Out of text.

  6. I think of media as also having an axis of consent. How consensual is our exposure to the media? At one end, a book is highly consensual – you have to purposefully go to the book and manipulate it in order to engage the work. Music is less so – if you are close enough to it, you can't help but participate to a degree merely by the fact you have earholes. Advertising is the least consensual of all media. I'm also compelled to think of it in the context of umwelt. The non-consensuality of a billboard has a different interaction with a blind person than a sighted person.

  7. I think your video is an example of hot or cold media depending how you want to define them. Dense with information and requires our attention Great Video.

  8. Information theory offers a method to quantify information. I think this question would be a lot more answerable if presented in information theory terms.

  9. I'm curious to know how McLuhan would classify the Rocky Horror Picture Show, which is "Hot" as a movie, but highly participatory in some forms, and therefore cold

  10. I think it's fair to say that all media is participatory, but not all media is interactive. That cheapens truly interactive media, like video games or choose your own adventure books. Or YouTube videos with comment sections, perhaps.

  11. You're killing it with the Austin shirt, Mike! Everyone comes to Austin, but they don't actually know how cold it really is. How cold Austin is compared to most cities lies within the whole Austin Experience. Although Austin is known for all its hot media, the music scene (ACL), the film scene (SXSW), the comedy scene (Moontower), those events take Austin as the medium to deliver the message to you. Getting around in the city is a lot of work, since there's a billion things to do in the city you have to immerse yourself to experience it all, and by the time you dive into the experience, it becomes addicting and makes yourself want to immerse yourself in it even further. I think this is the draw that Austin has to people, to make people work for the things they experience, but it has the award of experiencing what Austin has to offer far more satisfying. It helps bring people a very balanced feeling of hot and cold.

  12. OK, that was great and you guys do deserve the "postmodern hat award". Which should be in tints of "42 color'. Whatever that means in hexadecimal or something. That was just a great discussion on aesthetics.

  13. I think PBS fell off with it's ideas for episodes some time ago, then the feminist-ish episode came and it was even worse.
    Been keeping my eye on the channel since I liked the original content, but never felt at home with what it turned into (generally, not the feminist stuff)
    Just came here to say that this topic is a really good one, after a line of topics that I personally don't think are interesting at all.
    keep it up

  14. I wonder how Mcluhan would react to the integration of almost every form of media into social media. I remember an add camping, I think for Agents of Shield, where you take an image and played around with the filters on Instagram t fond a secret message.

  15. I think it would be fair to say that there are some forms of media that are more likely to induce hotness or coldness in the audience. While a book or a film will often have people being active in their consumption, something like a video game requires you to be active.

  16. I highly recommend you and everyone reading this the film "Videodrome", by David Cronenberg. It's amazing because it takes McLuhan theories literally, completely literally. Especially what he says about media being extensions of human abilities. Watch it keeping that in mind 🙂

  17. I don't think it's impossible to meaningfully describe media by their level of participation. Different works within a medium definitely require different amounts of participation – like, a really well written television show will probably give you more to think about than a really poorly written book. But I'd argue every medium has a different minimum level of participation. At the most fundamental level, a book requires you to envision the story it tells in a way that television doesn't. Television can still invite you to think deeply about the world and plot and so on, but so can a book, in addition to requiring you to envision that world in the first place. Therefore, the book is colder in some fundamental sense.

  18. Justify your use of "hot" as a verb. When people say some event is "hotting up" I can never understand why they don't say "heating up".

  19. It doesn't make sense to say whether a media is more involved or not, then exclusively talk about the medium. It may be nitpicking, but media and medium is not the same, as one is a specific piece of art while the other is a general way of connecting groups of similar art. Especially since individual pieces of media within the same medium can be vastly different in being experienced. For example, Idea channel may be more difficult to comprehend than other channels with titles such as "10 ways X shocks!"

  20. Hey Mike, long time fan – first comment. Must… Banish… Shyness…
    So, I think it's important to put this hot/cold dichotomy in context of a shifting social environment. I'd make the argument that as personal media, like Netflix, has become more ubiquitous, the sheer "action" behind mediums like movies, creates user participation. Going to the movies used to be hot – a monolithic element – but now, I have to put away my bunny pajamas, dress up, drive over to the theater after checking showtimes, make a hole in my schedule and shell out $14 in obligatory snack fees. Movies now seem like an event – almost like a concert, and that brings an element of awe to the movie media that might not have been present until recently. In contrast, now I can also put on my said bunny pajamas and watch an episode of sponge bob while doing the dishes. This is not to say that television is cold. As personal media has increased, stories in the genre have become more complex.

  21. I think you're right about the people vs. medium debate Mike, and you could extend the argument beyond McLuhen's time period. I would say depending on the person, any medium could be ice-cold, if it's in English. By this, I mean to say McLuhen's theory also only passes if you assume everyone speaks/hears/reads the same language, making Inception in Mandarin much colder to me than in English. Visual data complicates the matter, but as you touched on, even that is subjective.

    Thanks Mike! Longtime fan!

  22. I think it complicates the whole issue that some books, movies, tv shows, etc. can be enjoyed with different levels of audience involvement, such as Mad Max: Fury Road, which can be enjoyed both as a simple car chase-spectacle, and as an anti-patriarchal manifesto.

  23. I am glad you argued against hot and cold media! I was just about to virtually punch you in the face <3

  24. Finally I have a framework to describe what happened to video games. Also when thinking of this in terms of video games it seems like what you said is correct, that it is the people who are hot or cold and that a medium may become targeted at one group. Adventure time was a brilliant example to show, that show turned me on to information density in writing. They deliberately wait to prime the viewer for subtext until the end of the second season so you can go back through and have your mind blown.

  25. I would argue that the internet has become the medium in which other media forms are decided as hot or cold. Since the internet, almost all media has been bound together where books, radio (podcasts etc.), TV, movies, (netflix etc.), and music (spotify etc.) are interpreted as hot or cold by people on the internet. Media is neither hot or cold the audience decides based on content how hot or cold that specific thing is. I think this is shown to be true as the internet, or its users, have built and destroyed multiple media platforms, namely social media.

  26. I love your videos! The references to everything really make me feel home and the way you do your comment response videos makes me feel like a part of a family, although I do not anticipate that much. But one thing bothers me: the videos seem to come out a little random. When I scroll through your videos I sometimes see a comment response vid with an interesting topic, but then the next two videos are completely different vids. The same last week: if I got it right, the vid written by the AI is to be seen together with the AI-art vid. But in between these two there was a comment response vis, not at all related to that topic. Why do you do this? I don't understand it and it would satisfy me when they would come in order, because this little randomness really has my attention and I always feel like that's a big error that needs to be fixed.

  27. When you pointed out that a speaker unexpectedly interchanging the words "cool" and "cold" was "Not cool!", I thought that was a beautiful pun.

  28. To be fair, TV didn't evolve at the same rate as movies, so I can see TV being considered lower quality for decades. Today though I'd say they are equal. You couldn't have Firefly as just one movie, and the current interpretation of Star Trek would make a terrible TV show. There was no Citizen Cain of TV. Babylon 5, one of the first Scifi shows to have a story, didn't come out until the late 90's. Say what you want about Start Trek being ahead of it's time, it was still 1-2 episode plots for the most part.

  29. I'm not really sure I understand Mcluhan's distintions between hot and cold media. That's especially confusing when he talks of the difference between television and movies, which, frankly are both audio-visual mediums where the distinctions between them are mainly one of technical definitional quality and the difference in settings.

    I've long considered the obvious differences between media. With a book, the reader has to imagine characters, settings, voices, actions, etc, based upon the descriptions provided. Comic books and comic strips provide static visual information but no motion or sound. Radio provides audio, sure, but no pictures, so the listener still has to imagine what things look like. But TV and movies both provide audio-visual information in motion, so there's little for the viewer to imagine.

    Now yes, there can be degrees of definitional quality within each medium. A fairy tale in prose is 'low-definition' compared to a dense fantasy work like JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, and a funny animal comic book is 'low-definition' compared to a more realistically drawn (relatively so, that is) superhero comic, and a big budget movie is generally 'high-definition' compared to your average TV show.

    And yes, I can agree with Mike that different people bring different degrees of participation to the media they're engaging in. Or even that the same person can bring a different degree of participation depending upon their physical and mental condition. A person who is tired, stressed, or ill won't engage in the material the same as when they are well-rested and healthy, for example.

    But I'm not sure that any of these distinctions are really what Mcluhan is talking about.

  30. I agree with the point that hot and cold is more of a descriptive term for our own level of involvement with media, than with the media/medium itself. Two people may be reacting to the same text/work/song differently: the average person may put the radio on to have some noise in the background, while a musician may intently listen to and analyze the harmonies and production values within the same material. (yeah, I've been listening to Reasonably Sound) … Noise music exists in an in-between realm for me–I can't just leave it on in the background because it's often too distracting or abrasive, yet I find it most affective when I am consciously trying to listen for patterns, shifts, anything that may fall back within a regular song structure, and am forced to give up trying to fit the song into my learned musical expectations.

    Noise, and drone or other experimental genres, appeal to me because they are most often (but not always) initially approached with more attention on the part of the listener, yet are most effective when they defy expectation to the degree that one becomes overwhelmed, or made passive, like after the brain stops looking for melody 6 minutes into a 23 minute atonal piece. Sometimes these pieces can reveal how active our participation with media is on a less conscious level. It could even be said that a lot of media is hot only because we know what to expect from it, and that production values are not always relevant.

  31. I have to say, Mcluhan could not have come up with less intuitive terms to mean what he chose them to mean. Hot and cold? What? Nothing about those words indicates what he defined them as in any organic way whatsoever. Haha. But that's a minor criticism I guess.

  32. Speaking of Podcast when will we have another episode of Resonably Sound I hate to be "that guy" but I love your podcast Mike its amazing

  33. Please give credit where credit is due, I totally suggested a McLuhan episode from @ThusSpokeTurnby, as well as quoting McLuhan in tons of comments here. Fess up bro.

  34. OMG, THIS IS MY MAJOR, ahahah.

    This explanation makes it clear that McLuhan was a technological determinist. The notion that the kind of media framed the course of action the audience would take fits with his views. I'm really excited for this series! I hope you talk about more people from the Toronto School. I for one would like to hear your insights on Harold Innis' models of Space Biased Media and Time Biased Media.

  35. It all depends on the receiver. Based on how we interpret and act upon what we see or what we hear, the media/medium will either be hot or cold. To me, it's hot if you're interactive with it by getting your full attention and you're full on focused on it, but it's cold if it's something like music in the background or something that doesn't require your full attention and mental interactivity.

  36. This is a tangent, but this video has me thinking about how the concept of "the medium is the message" extends to VR.

  37. Loved you on Mental Floss, would like to see you there more often. In fact combine the two shows. Make a mega show

  38. i agree that the same medium can have colder content and hotter content, but i disagree that its all about the audience. the medium has an effect on the audience's participation. for example, the TV is way more accessible then the movie theater because it is in your living room and you get to watch it whenever wearing whatever even if you do choose to participate more, there are things it can't do, as a medium. the coldest medium to my experience, coldest than the internet even, is the table top RPG. it demands so mush from the players, that even the hottest storytelling and game system won't make it as hot as a book even. in a sense, its the dark souls of cold media (and dark souls is clearly the coldest game to ever go mainstream probably).

  39. I would argue that "Hot" and "Cold" is a better description of the message than the media, in terms of interaction, noting that many things can be "Lukewarm." A conversation can be "Cold," if you have something to say, but it can be "Hot" if you just want to listen to what's being said. Superhero movies are "Hot," because what you see is what you get, but a movie like Inception is "Cold," because it generates unending fan theories.

    Here, I would turn McLuhan's own words against him by saying that what he is calling the "media" here, is actually the message of that media. So is the message the media? Does a mystery convey a different message than a journey tale? Yes. Yes it does.

  40. Forgive me if i have completely misunderstood this video, but could you also argue that the way we perceive and interpret media through our (the auditor's) interaction is also affected by those who create the content? The individual consuming a piece of media may be hot or cold to it, but surely those creating that piece of media were themselves hot or cold and as a result they have the intent to heat up or cool down those participating in the final product.

    Coming from a background with a little theatrical knowledge I was taught about the different performance and directorial theories, some that urge others to simply enjoy and some that urge others participating through critiquing. For example Brecht wished to alienate the audience from the drama in order to elicit a particular response therefore being a cold medium.
    Whereas one could argue that certain productions (like some Andrew Lloyd Weber) are simply created as capitalist entertainment pieces with no thought provoking intention, and are as a result hotter/warmer.

  41. Disclaimer: I am a professional McLuhan apologist.

    Two things.
    Thing the first: there is, buried in the footnotes of "Laws of Media," the understanding that media temperature is indeed a spectrum. A media is cooler or warmer depending on how much critical space the audience is given at the first moment of the experience of its meaning.

    Thing the second: McLuhan makes allowances for the evolving medium as early as "Understanding Media," predicting that television will get, in some ways, hotter as the quality of the image improves. But the serial/episodic form of television makes it cooler; it calls upon the audience to recall the previous episodes, and this is a kind of participation. Superhero franchises are cooling cinema.

  42. I feel like all of your videos would be improved by incorporating this format. This channel is, after all, about exploring ideas, and I think one of the best ways to explore an idea is to examine its counterarguments, even if and especially if it's something you came up with yourself or found somewhere and think has merit.

    The counterargument to this post is that the channel is really about posing interesting questions rather than determining what the exact answer to those questions is. That's true, but it assumes that the point of listing and evaluating counterarguments is necessarily to come to a conclusion. I think of counterarguments to a theoretical proposition as sort of the question's terminal point, figuring out at what point the question is no longer worth-while to ask and how exactly it might be best to ask it.

  43. If you turn the distinction onto the audience, I'd think the labels have to be reversed – an audience that participates more (especially in some kind of group discussion) seems to be 'hotter' than someone coolly taking something in without reacting much.

  44. I feel like Mcluhan's idea of "participation" is closer to what I would call "interpretation," but then I would also disagree with his characterizations of things like photographs or movies as Hot—just because they focus narrowly on that one sense does not mean that it is easy to understand them. Would we really argue that some heady movie like Werckmeister Harmonies is easier to understand than a cartoon like Road Runner?

  45. I feel like his theories are definitely dated, but not just by the technology he references. His ideas about speech, from a linguistic point of view, seem to be pretty staunchly seated in the idea that English, with all it's dependence on context, is the end-all-be-all of language. I don't think that idea of everything needing to be inferred from speech takes into account less ambiguous languages with heavy case systems like Russian, or heavily tonal languages like Mandarin. Both extensive cases and tonal systems do a magnificent job of cutting ambiguity out of a language so that one can say exactly what one means and know the listener will hear just that. By contrast, English has lost almost all of it's entire case structure and now is very, very dependent on word order and context to decipher meaning. His argument, thus, feels very rooted in those late 50's early 60's ideas about foreigners and their languages. And it REALLY stood out to me in a day and age where those global barriers to other cultures have be vastly dismantled.

  46. aren't the definitions of 'hot' and 'cold' media qualified in part by our senses and how our brains interpret input?

  47. Clearly a theory of its times. TV is lower quality than film then but surely he could imagine it being nearly the same quality one day

  48. I find it interesting that you don't discuss your new use of HD cameras and microphones at all in this video. Maybe it was more of a subconscious change.

  49. All this 'hot' and 'cold' talk can only lead to misunderstandings and misinterpretations, because these adjectives are already used in other contexts.
    How about this: media can be easy to consume (i.e. either require little brainpower to decode possible meaning or just provide little information) and it can be hard(er) to consume (i.e. multiple ways of interpreting the info or a great amount of info).

  50. I think a big part about the description of hot and cold is how much a something( in this case media)gives or receives. Cold media makes people have to be more hot. They have to give more to the work, think more be more active while hot media is more giving and can make us feel more helped, we have to do less work to get the message of hot media, but this also means that the message can be less profound.

  51. About the " To not interact with a media you need to not experience it " (not exact quote)
    I think it might apply only to humans because to interact with something you experience you have to react to that experience, so for computer for example, they "experience" the flood of data from a film but they do not react to it in the sense that they do not create new data from the film when they only read it.
    Maybe there's an equivalent for humans, when they think about something else while experiencing something (seeing, hearing, touch …)

  52. Is Role-Playing the COLDEST medium?
    Think about it, it's an incredibly low definition medium by the he who imposes the rules and the narration; the DM (or whatever you call it) usually in the form of a rather vague verbal description of the situation that takes its "true" shape only in the individual minds of the player by their own imaginative effort. And it's all about being actively re-created and actively interpreted by the receivers too.

  53. Please! More McLuhan! I've been absorbed by his material for years now and I'm just appalled how little he's talked about today. He is one of the rare thinkers that has forever changed the way I look and think about the world. I think we could use a McLuhan revival.

  54. I would just like to say that near the end I think you begin to lose Marshall's perspective as you transgress into your own. You are confusing "the content" with "the medium". You can't look at a single producer because they are not representative of the whole. Although, I agree different radio producers may create hotter or cooler content relative to each other. The overall experience of radio is hot; that is the average. I believe Marshall believe in fluidity, meaning nothing is static, everything is impermanent. As he even speaks at how cool mediums over time will become hot and vice versa. I'm still trying to gauge if he believe himself to be an individual. Some of his lecture makes me presume not.

  55. Wait so what's the difference between media , or medium? If there is any difference .
    I guess what I mean is how would the effects of "media" change if viewed through a different "medium,".Like how would a song be experienced/ interpreted if listened to on black television screen. Or if we went to the movie theatre to watch gifs. Or used vinyl for "explicit " (18+) media? As opposed to their presumed counterparts.

    I was thinking about this whilst contemplating on the nature of a cell phone. I'd come to the conclusion that a phone was simply a collection of different media , on a new platform. One can read listen to the radio, watch movies, and call, text, "etc, etc,"

    Also!!!! The host is actually made my day when he said he liked Alien. I should learn his name.

  56. This video is hot, but my comment here is cooler. Whether a media is hotter or cooler based on the person, is a perception of the person, not a reality of the media, since its intrinsic character doesn't change.

  57. This hot/cold media thing has always been difficult for me to understand. Maybe finally I'm starting to understand it. I have the book: Understanding Media.

  58. Thought I'd say happy birthday to Marshall McLuhan here while it's still July 1 in my time zone. Happy 106th!

  59. Totally agree with this take. McLuhan always struck me as another Freud: his ideas led others to interesting ways of thinking, but his own conclusions are kind of totally wrong.

  60. Something to consider is that McLuhan pointed out that the content of a medium is itself another medium. So if an action movie is more "hot" than a slow paced art house film, an action sequence is itself a medium, as is speech or whatever else. So the content of different mediums may be comparatively hot or cold but the content distracts most people from the effect of the medium itself.

  61. is there some distinction between film and tv, because, basically TVs were very poor quality when he said this, whilst films in a cinema are pretty much similar definition as they are now even if they used to be in black and white. we have hi-def massive televisions now, so does that change the effect, especially when we watch film-like HBO series on it. And that the internet DEFINITELY depends on how you use it, what websites you visit and etc.

  62. I think you're confusing the content of the medium with the media itself, and I think you may be confusing the involvement of the audience for interaction and participation. In mcluhan's time, films in a classic theatre were 'high definition', not in terms of pixels(as we would measure it today) but in in the real sense: Movie theatres had screens with a 50-foot diagonal size. If you went to a drive-in movie, the image could be even larger. In our modern digitized age, everything is measured in pixels and there is no advantage to casting a digital image onto a giant screen, because it would still be the same amount of pixels as before, just spread out over a larger area. As a result, movies have become 'cooler', not hotter, since Mcluhan's era. Plus, the amount of participation or involvement is not determined by the amount or quality of interaction or the back-and-forth interchange of any medium, but by how much the user of the media has to mentally 'fill-in' the gaps of the missing quality of media, therefore becoming 'involved' in the environment created, such as a conference call, where even if one person is just listening, they have to either know the subject beforehand or deduce whatever information is left out or the entire interaction will be lost. Television, with it's comparatively small screen and limited time to tell a story between commercial breaks often makes the same content of what would be the large hi-def movie screen and makes it smaller, less direct, and more involving, sometimes to the point of being tiresome. Mcluhan described the television viewer as 'stoned' and 'not concerned with external things'.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijeMM-NXvus

  63. Hello bro plz sorry if bother you plz I need a summary of what you said about hot and cold media plz I need it I have exam I need to prepare this and thank you so much
    I wish you reply to me 💓🙏🏻

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back To Top