In Diffusion of Innovation, Everett Rogers discusses the concept of “diffusion” as a subset of communication in order to highlight how communities acquire knowledge. Rogers’s opening chapter provides the reader with anecdotes to illustrate various strategies for this process, simultaneously providing a vivid reference point for readers while hinting at the complex array of factors that can affect the spread of ideas.
Undoubtedly building upon foundational theory created by Rogers, figures such as Richard Dawkins and Malcolm Gladwell have ruminated on the spread of messages. Using the preexisting schema of Evolutionary Biology, Dawkins likened information to genes (in the process, creating the term “memes”) in order to describe his theories regarding transmission and replication. Dawkins essentially argued that the fittest (in an evolutionary sense) ideas would go on to propagate in society, mirroring the activity of organisms. Gladwell, on the other hand, has incorporated Rogers’s model of adopters into his book The Tipping Point, describing the stages of diffusion in terms of people. Although Gladwell also goes on to describe individuals’ roles as agents of change, he continues to work under the philosophical framework provided by Rogers.
Daniel Czitrom’s Media and the American Mind addresses communication in a different manner, referencing media theorist Marshall McLuhan in its subtitle. McLuhan famously introduced the notion that “the medium is the message,” referring to the concept that the mode of communication has an inextricable relation to the content being provided. Although first coined in the 1960s, McLuhan’s thinking can still be applied to modern culture struggles to integrate the increased number of available media channels (e.g., traditional broadcast, podcasts, blogs and vlogs, etc.) afforded by advances in technology. Additionally, transmedia presentations of content (e.g., webisodes for Battlestar Galactica and Heroes or the narrative of The Matrix) challenge viewers and producers to reconsider established notions of media’s impact.