A Three-Part Theory Of Media: When It Goes Wrong

Last Column I explored my latest media theory – that all media we create can have three parts do it:

  • Evocative: Emotions and thoughts that it induces.
  • Directional: The direction it provides, the guidance, the inspiration.
  • Informational: The information it imparts.

Different forms of media focus on the three elements differently and do them differently. A good bit of short Kindle erotica is probably not heavy on the Informational or the Directional – it’s Evocative. A humorous historical speech focuses on the Evocative and Informational in right combinations.  Good media has the right elements to it, in the right combinations, and will differ markedly from other forms.

A good creator knows how do handle the individual elements, how they interact, and how to do them right.

Now beyond giving us yet another way to analyze media before I come up with another theory, I think this three part model also provides a useful tool to understand pathological relations we can form with media. It’s a way to understand why people can take media wrong, are deceived, or get the wrong messages.

Perhaps a bit of a dark message, but media is like anything else we put into ourselves – drugs, ideas, concepts, religion, etc.  We might as well be aware of how it can go wrong so we can be responsible about our intake of media.  Much like other things, I prefer we learn how to be responsible, not have someone do it for us.

So let’s dive into how this model can be used to diagnose when media goes wrong – or does wrong – or when people do.

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A Three-Part Theory Of Media

I often analyze media, how it works, and what it means – which any regular reader knows. This isn’t just my generally obsessive and analytical nature; media is something many of us create from the instructional (yours truly) to fiction (like my friend Serdar). Right now if you’re here you’re probably interested in media creation, and possibly even doing it – so you’re bang alongside reading yet Another Crazy Steve Theory*.

But there’s another reason to analyze media beyond making it – and that’s to understand how it affects you and others. As we’re always consuming media (even unconsciously) in this wired age, understanding how it affects us is vital to being functional. Anyone who’s ever watched someone get a crazy and dysfunctional idea from a story or a biased newscast knows the importance of understanding media.

Lately I’ve been wondering how media influences people and how they take messages from it. In addition I’ve wondered how people can “read so much” into a piece of media that doesn’t seem to mean what they say. In time, I began to see media has three different sides to it.

Here’s my theory – that media has three components.

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