The range of the multi-device communication raises one of the most emblematic theories and results in a new stage.

From the smoke signal to the 3G

From the smoke signal to the 3G

Dovetailing with the 35th anniversary of Herbert Marshall McLuhan’s death (1911 – 1980), the range of the new communication multi-device sets new standards giving rise to the fifth communication stage: the tribal communication era.

Apaches, Cherokees and Sioux tribes transformed into urban tribes and replaced the smoke signal by the 3G signal, a universal signal that connects our multi-devices in order to communicate everybody all over the world.

The new digital age and its multi-screen communication has stirred up the classical process of communication and established new social conducts and ways of life, up to the point that multi-devices have become our personal extension.

Facing this new reality, what would McLuhan think about the 3G signal? What would he do with a Smartphone? What would be his position on multi-device communication? And, above all, which would be the impact of this new reality in relation to his famous theory “the medium is the message”?

Probably, McLuhan’s first experience with the 3G signal would make him verify that his “global village” turned into “multiglobal” and the wild range of multimedia possibilities that the Smartphone offers would astonish him. Just as realizing that millions of individuals all over the world regardless of tribe, gender or age, live permanently looking after their mobile device.

The Canadian thinker would currently realize that the medium has taken on a new dimension: it has moved from being a simple communication channel to being something much more intimate. His experience with iPhones and iPads would lead him to reformulate his theory and postulate that “the medium is much more than the message”.

As stated by Joshua Benton, director of the Nieman Journalism Lab at Harvard University, if McLuhan knew that everybody would carry small media receptors with him – with an inexhaustible capacity to search information and with the possibility of accessing to any media in order to fill any free time – would probably be terrified to see how the medium is now our daily company.

From today’s perspective, the new world’s conception derived from media is related with the media itself instead of with its content. The new technologies and particularly the 3G are the new smoke signal used by the urban tribes to communicate and also to live. Emoticons, algorithms and codes are the modern languages and communication signs.

The revolution from the latest generation communication technologies has changed the rules of the game and would make McLuhan reconsider the actual moment as a new era of the social communication history. That would be the fifth age, predicted by the electronic, the print, the manuscript and the oral-tribal ages.

The current digital extension reveals that we have overcome the electronic age. Since the beginning of the 21st century, we can talk about a second tribal era due to the visual element’s predominance. The new writing codes derived from new technologies, the emoticon’s use and the proliferation of the image through the social networks makes us realize the existence of a new technology. The theory of the social communication evolves with these new technologies and points to the emergence of the tribal era.