Multidisciplinarity is distinctly different from Interdisciplinarity because of the relationship that the disciplines share. Within a multidisciplinary relationship this cooperation "may be mutual and cumulative but not interactive" (Augsburg 2005: 56) while interdisciplinarity blends the practices and assumptions of each discipline involved.
There are many examples of when a particular idea appears in different disciplines, at about the same period. One case is the shift from the approach of focusing on "specialized segments of attention" (adopting one particular perspective), to the idea of "instant sensory awareness of the whole", an attention to the "total field", a "sense of the whole pattern, of form and function as a unity", an "integral idea of structure and configuration". This has happened in painting (with cubism), physics, poetry, communication and educational theory. According to Marshall McLuhan, this paradigm shift was due to the passage from the era of mechanization, which brought sequentiality, to the era of the instant speed of electricity, which brought simultaneity.