The McLuhan “Hexad”

When two systems encounter one another they make contact through a medium.


What that medium is is actually irrelevant.  All media are prone to the same set of costs, benefits and violations within their context.  For example whether you medium is sound, documents or email it is possible to commit identity theft, generate spam or hold a constructive exchange.

In my previous posts I made the case for hexads over tetrads.  Then I cleaned up my insideness and outsideness concept.  I am now, going to make an intuitive leap now in dealing with Marshall McLuhan’s Laws of Media Tetrad and convert it into a Hexad as follows:


As you can see the additional two things that media does is recieve-transmit and translate.  I have modified McLuhan’s Figure-Ground binary model into a Figure, Figure-Ground, Ground trinary model.  I may be excommunicated by the media theorists, but I think it is worth the risk.

7 Responses to “The McLuhan “Hexad””

  1. Bob Dobbs Says:

    You left out F/F-G (figure-figure minus ground)

    I was McLuhan’s archivist.

    Bob Dobbs

  2. grant czerepak Says:

    Hi Bob,

    Pleasure to have someone with your background on board.

    Could you elaborate?

    — afterthought

    Actually, looking back a medium itself is a system. A medium has a motive, person, object, method, locale and moment. Two systems, in order to interact with each other have to interact through some type of medium system. That is if we are talking human artifacts as media.

    I did only mention three horizons in the ring diagram, but there are six possible states.

  3. Bob Dobbs Says:

    Grant, here’s how I use the word “medium” per McLuhan:

    The medium has nothing to do with what you use. The MEDIUM is the total effect of the MEDIA that your community uses.

    If the community uses automobiles (“media” or figure), the “medium” (ground) is the oil companies, gas stations, repair shops, highways, refineries, oil tankers, etc.

    When people heard McLuhan talk about the “medium” – TV, for example, they thought he meant them to look at the characteristics of the TV in their living room (at best, it might prompt them to notice that it didn’t look or act like a book). They didn’t understand that they were looking at the FIGURE.

    But McLuhan wanted his consumers to look at the “medium” he was actually pointing to (the GROUND) which was all the past media structures (including their Chemical Bodies) that made up any particular society’s history…
    plus the new structures that evolved from the new FIGURES (in McLuhan’s day, the figures were the Beatles and Dylan, for example, since they invaded McLuhan’s profession of English teacher) that resonated with satellited TV (only a FIGURE).

    The tetrad is an encapsulated snapshot/ideogram of the effects of the MEDIUM on the past, present, and future FIGURES and older MEDIA (plural of “medium”).

    Bob Dobbs

  4. grant czerepak Says:

    Bob, thank you for your time to elaborate on Figure and Ground–Media and Medium. I also see it as Node and Network and that has been the core concept I am trying to convey in my expansion of McLuhan’s tetrad to a hexad. All of the tetrads I refer to in this blog are valid, including McLuhan, but lack motive and person. It is like trying to predict human behavior using physics, it can be done, but it is ridiculously complex.

    By incorporating motive (creates) and person (relates) with energy (reports/enhances), matter (records/retrieves), space (affords/reverses) and time (engages/obsolesces), we have observer, figure and ground. The system is now a human system, an anthropological system.

    This specific post involves my early thoughts. I invite you to take some time to read my later blog posts. I am still refining my work, but its structure is gradually becoming more sound. I do not feel I am denying anything regarding what McLuhan said, I simply feel I have found a way to stand on the shoulders of a giant.

  5. Structured Thinking System: Entities R0.2 « relationary Says:

    […] Posts The McLuhan “Hexad”Six Hats, Six CoatsWhat’s Right with the Zachman FrameworkStructured Thinking System: […]

  6. some old nobody Says:

    Hate to say this, but he’s lying to you. He wasn’t McLuhan’s archivist. See here:

  7. grant czerepak Says:

    Yes, this has been brought to my attention. Thanks.

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