Perhaps the most critical shift came with spiritualism, around 1850, when a person, typically a woman imitating the telegraph’s ability to bridge wide chasms, came to be called a medium, which no longer meant a natural element but a human intermediary between the worlds of the living and of the dead. A spiritualist medium was not an environment enveloping organisms but a person communi- cating meanings that were distinctly human—that is, located in minds (whether incarnate or not). This was a stepping-stone to the sense prevailing in the twentieth century that media were human-made channels that carried news, entertainment, advertising and other so-called content. The spiritualist quest for communiqués from distant minds went together with the shrinkage of the notion of communication to mean intentional sendings among humans.

the shrinking notion of communication

John Durham Peters, The Marvelous Clouds

Aaron Lewis