On methodologies: Social Interfaces and Mediology

Recently, I spent some time trying to understand how content becomes viral in social media. In my attempts to formulate how content becomes clickable, and realized that the factors that don’t relate to the content itself were taking effect. Looking at the commonalities of social media platforms revealed that online interaction was strictly structured in all media platforms: Twitter didn’t allow more than 140 characters, Vine didn’t allow videos taking longer than 6 seconds. Later, I realized that all social media platforms had the scrolling-down functionality embedded, which allowed you to scroll through live content with one simple finger movement.

Considering these two properties in regard to cognitive science knowledge, I realized they were attending the same mental process in the brain: the reward network. In social media platforms, content is designed to be consumable and digestible, and the scrolling-down process is designed to enable the digestion of small bits of information. Actually, the process design appeals to human cognition so successfully that a compulsive behavior called the checking-habit[1] is recently identified. Social media platforms are creating addictive behaviors by appealing to the reward schema in the brain. While applying knowledge from cognitive science helped reveal how social media functions, this probably wouldn’t be the case in other topics. Similarly, applying historical research methods probably won’t be helpful in understanding how social media works. Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that there is no one methodology to govern all.

Mediology, however, functions as a meta-tool to understand transmission, and it extensively builds on and methodologically develops the idea that McLuhan proposed first – “the medium is the message.”[2] During research, the relation of the unit of analysis with the bigger media-sphere that it is embedded in should be considered, because mediology characterizes the context in which communication or other forms of cultural transmission take place. The concept of mediology is however new, and lacks its own definitions and poetics.

The question of how and what should mediology analyze still remains a question. If mediology takes a broader take on technology, can we consider the recent fashion of deep V decolettes as visual-textual technology? And if it is, how does the trend of this material form of clothing impact feminism – as it motivates woman to defend their right to wear it, an act that materializes their bodies? Furthermore, is it possible to understand cultural transmission in its own terms? Can we really take a step back and understand relationships between language and transmission by using linguistic tools?


[1] Oulasvirta, Antti, Tye Rattenbury, Lingyi Ma, and Eeva Raita. “Habits make smartphone use more pervasive.” Personal and Ubiquitous Computing 16, no. 1 (2012): 105-114.

[2] McLuhan, M., & Fiore, Q. (1967). The medium is the message. New York123, 126-128.