I have spent the last fifteen or so years denying that “the medium is the message”. I can't see being “online” is cool, I never have done. More recently “on mobile” is the same thing. I adsorbed “academic”, both my parents are teachers or lecturers; I write long sentences with a large vocabulary. I am from first practical opportunity, a heavy user of internet based information and publishing systems. Its just cheaper to use text and asynchronous structures. I read and write lots of words on a regular basis, but sometimes won't say anything outloud for days.

For balance I note that when a business breaks into a new market, e.g. the US; the commercial people tell everyone “we sell in the US” continuously. Most people don't think the second continent is a message, but commercial are attached to their solution.

If you are trying to get “non net” people to adopt a internet based communication system, selling “cool technology” may facilitate sales. There where many companies who built strong client base, have a stable market and quality products; without touching a public information system. But my wavering hand and quivery voice will attempt to interject; I - a sample end-user - was only talking to that company to buy something. As this avatar I favour relevant English (or other human language), tightly coupled to what I wish to achieve.

The then-technology - applets or flash - was rarely modelled from the position of the above avatar. The statement “we established-armchair-maker-since-1845 are now online” to me has always seemed purely self-referential. It would be alot easier for a software developer to buy chairs; but until I have a big house, I don't want any, thanks. To an interior decoration enthusiast it is another mechanism to communicate.
If you don't have social relationship with the armchair maker, the website is irrelevant until you want to buy something. The website may have been a large project; and if you don't use information systems that much, a big learning curve; but as a client, its not relevant.

Designing commercial websites in terms of sales is a more important thing, in my opinion. Speaking as a design-capable person, random videos or flashlets are unlikely to get people to click in the “buy now” button. People buy goods when:

  • the goods match their requirements (site is informative);
  • the understand what they are buying (the site is clear ~ see Clear English);
  • the items seem a reasonable price (the site makes it easy to see pricing);
  • the sites reputation is reasonable (third party reviews etc);

None of these requirements is very technical. The armchair maker needs to focus on chairs not how good they are at using complex web technologies. Personally I sometimes watch special effects, to see the animation; but this has nothing todo with my spending habits afterwards.

If you are unemotive, the increased deployment of technology allows greater convenience for the purchaser. A list of b2b ordering systems charts both the scale of usability and technical investment necessary for utilisation. The early systems where very brittle. The new systems are affordable, and should increase business throughput.

For social media - “the medium is the message” - for example instagram, is a different sentence. However the people using new media to communicate alot aren't the ones concentrating on fancy instagram widgets. There is a constant stream of small bits of data, short messages rather than extended prose.
To use social media correctly, one needs a different strategy.