Mode and Medium

The notion of a medium cannot be understood simply as a technology of production and distribution. It must also be understood as social practice and as a cultural phenomenon. Thus, Jenkins (2006), for example, suggests a model of media that works on two levels: a medium is a technology that enables communication; and a medium is a set of associated protocols or social and cultural practices that have grown up around that technology.

Medium of production and dissemination and mode of representation are often conflated. This conflation reflects a recent history in which there was a congruence of a kind between medium, such as radio, and mode, for example, speech or music, or of the medium of book and the mode of writing.

This congruence has been largely superseded by the integration of  different modes and media in single tools of production, for example, a computer or an authoring software, display, for example, authored storage media such as DVDs, or transmission, for example, digital television, online games, or online dictionaries (MODE, 2012).


Jenkins, H (2006) Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press.

MODE (2012). Glossary of multimodal terms. Available at [Accessed 9 October 2017]..

edited 9 October, 2017 by Allan Parsons

Associated Practices

Related Practices

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