McLuhan’s The Medium is the Massage uses the visual to support his take on the 60s new technology and how the image, with the apparition of television, was affecting people’s relationship to information and meaning. The way images support McLuhan’s argument, however, isn’t always obvious at first glance. The reader has to decipher the relationship between what’s written and the supporting visuals.
The parallel between the two images, therefore, lies in the idea that new technologies reshape our relationship to the world. The effect of television for McLuhan was to result in just as big of a shift to our culture as the railroad was at its time. And whether we agree with that comparison, there is no denying that the cartoon still resonates with the reader in 2020 as the addition of the internet and social media only furthers the speed at which we receive information on a daily basis.
On page 70 and 71, the spread includes the image of a cartoon on the left and a picture of a railroad on the right. With little text off of it is still possible to see a relationship between the two pages. On one hand, the cartoon is a commentary on how new technologies make the news more accessible, therefore making people aware of current events at a faster rate than ever before. The railroad was also a technology that changed the American landscape. It made traveling much easier than before. Beyond physical transportation, railroads also made ideas spread. It changed people’s perspective of the world.