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The Medium is The Massage: An Inventory of Effects

3.95  ·  Rating Details ·  8,711 Ratings  ·  258 Reviews
The Medium is the Massage is Marshall McLuhan's most condensed, and perhaps most effective, presentation of his ideas. Using a layout style that was later copied by Wired, McLuhan and coauthor/designer Quentin Fiore combine word and image to illustrate and enact the ideas that were first put forward in the dense and poorly organized Understanding Media. McLuhan's ideas abo ...more
Paperback, 160 pages
Published June 9th 2003 by Penguin Canada (first published 1967)
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Ann Medium is the singular of media (the Latin neuter ending -um changes to -a in the plural). But nowadays "media" is used as a collective singular —…moreMedium is the singular of media (the Latin neuter ending -um changes to -a in the plural). But nowadays "media" is used as a collective singular — like data, which used to be plural of datum.(less)
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Trevor
Sep 01, 2014 Trevor rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: social-theory, media
This was a much more interesting read than I suspected it would be before I started. The argument runs a bit like this:

Every technology only makes sense in as far as it extends a human sense or ability. The car makes us better ‘walkers’. The telephone, for example, could be seen as a much-improved human ear, allowing us to hear across continents or a plough a much-improved human hand, allowing us to dig up an entire field. Stick with this idea for a moment and soon we see that we have used techn
...more
notgettingenough
Dec 04, 2013 notgettingenough rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sociology
Are there other people who wonder about this?

Goodreads ONLY exists because of the goodwill of the people who do all the unpaid slave labour that keeps it where it is. That is Manny, and Paul Bryant, me to a relatively insignificant extent, whoever is reading this.

It is covered in offensive ads. They are there because the site is able to make a lot of money by using OUR goodwill and turning into cash.

I wonder if there is anybody else out there, offended by an ad that lets you get in touch with de
...more
Ariel
Sep 22, 2014 Ariel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The ideas are genius and brilliant and groundbreaking even today, but the graphic design element felt a little messy and random to me, and at time the writing would get superfluous. Much recommended, though, to learn about this important process of thought! Also, it's super super quick!
John Matsui
Jul 24, 2016 John Matsui rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: influential
I read this and all of Marshall McLuhan's works decades ago when the ideas were revolutionary and often hard to visualize.
Observer's today might find its pages unremarkable, like looking at the splash page of a website. Consider it this way, you open a chest that's been buried since 1967 and find a fully functional smartphone that's very much like an iPhone 5. The smartphone is basic tech compared to what's in your pocket until you realize when it was built.
When I first heard of McLuhan using t
...more
Lisa
May 30, 2010 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This wasn't the version I read. I read the book: The Medium is the Massage by Marshall McLuhan and Quentin Fiore. It has many images, text is flipped, broken, larger, smaller; the book itself a metaphor for the evolution of the medium.

Regardless. It's brilliance, and if you pretend as you read that you are in the 60s and extrapolate from the basic theses of this book, its prescience is unnerving. I will re-visit images and text many times. This was a very enjoyable afternoon of reading and thin
...more
Jasmine
Dec 20, 2011 Jasmine rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian
So this is one of those books where I always say the wrong title (like the deluze book I always claim is about platypuses [or platypi as it maybe]). I have always called it the medium is the message, apparently that is a different book, unlike the platypi issue which is just a title I made up. I also sometimes call marshall marsha, but that is because I had a professor in college who use to do that for which I have no explanation except possibly a very thick accent.

this book is about how new te
...more
Sean Pagaduan
Jul 09, 2011 Sean Pagaduan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: (pseudo-)intellectuals, people who use the internet, philosophy majors
This is one of those weird books that's kind of loose philosophical theory without much in the way of hard logic or evidence. It's kind of along the same lines as Jean Baudrillard and Alvin Toffler in that it tries to predict how our world is being shaped by technological developments. Specifically, McLuhan covers the so-called "electric" age and how media (especially the television; remember that this was written in 1967) affects our consciousness and perception, how we organize the world.

My co
...more
April
Apr 19, 2012 April rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
In this interesting little book, McLuhan explains that "electric technologies" (it was published in 1967) will change collective perception and will encourage increased participation in the world and thus, we will become a global village inherently connected and involved. Reading this 45 years later, I can plainly see his cynicism but I also find some of his ideas unsettlingly relevant today. Also, this is an extremely visual piece of work with a mixture of graphics, photographs, illustrations, ...more
Hoagie
Feb 09, 2013 Hoagie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are prophets among us in these times. While not foreseeing the hardware used in the transition, McLuhan did imagine the changes in the way we approach situations and process information (that is, in a linear vs. non-linear manner). When I first encountered the internet, this book came to mind immediately, although it had been quite a few years since I first read it. It's an invaluable aid to understanding some of the changes occurring in the emerging "global village."
tom bomp
Nov 03, 2013 tom bomp rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Only good if you don't take it as serious politics/cultural studies, and even then it's pretty ridiculous. A lot of it looks absurd in the context of the 40 odd years of technological and political. development since this was written. The idea that modern technology is particularly liberating, especially, doesn't look like much now. It's weird because he seems to make comments every so often which show the essential similarity between modern technology and older technology but he doesn't let it ...more
Tom Schulte
May 15, 2014 Tom Schulte rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally got around to reading the classic last night, and what was I waiting for? It is witty, insightful, and very entertaining. Much credit must be given to graphic designer Quentin Fiore. His designs of the 1960s are mixed text and images, different sizes of type and other unconventional devices like mirror writing to create dynamic pages that reflect the tumultuous spirit of the time. In the words of critic Steven Heller, Fiore was "as anarchic as possible while still working within the co ...more
☆Stephanie☆
I read this book strictly for my Language and Power class. It is very 1960s Haight-Ashbury out there kind of stuff. It's mainly about how we are now mass assembly line educated and not "free thinkers." It does kind of predict the Internet in a way, which is strange for a book written in 1967.
My teacher (I surmise) is an old hippie.
But the material is interesting, and it talks about communication and language from pre-alphabet to modern (well, 20th century) times. It definitely works for the cla
...more
Zioluc
Sep 26, 2016 Zioluc rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: saggio
Quentin Fiore illustra con fotografie e invenzioni grafiche il testo di McLuhan sul nuovo mondo che i mass media "elettrici" stavano delineando: il famoso villaggio globale.
Ad un lettore distratto potrebbe sembrare un catalogo di ovvietà sulla società iperconnessa di oggi, finché non ci si rende contro che il testo è del 1967.
La grafica scoppiettante non aggiunge nulla alle profetiche parole ma le rende oltremodo scorrevoli e piacevoli da leggere, rendendolo un libro bellissimo anche da vedere.
Emma
Mar 02, 2009 Emma rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects is a crazy little book (159 pages, mostly with images) that has been spouting some crazy ideas since its original publication in 1967. The book was written by Marshall McLuhan and desgined by Quentin Fiore. It is also the only book I have ever found with its own producer, one Jerome Angel.

This book is also what I imagine a book would look like were it on drugs.

In other words, I found this book to be complete chaos. In images, photos, text, and a
...more
drbarb
Apr 22, 2007 drbarb rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
In 1970, I was just an undergrad and about 17 or 18 years old. My teacher was this old, chain-smoking guy who looked like someone's grandpa. He was Harry Skornia, one of [Ed] "Murrow's boys" and a media giant. After WWII, it was his job to set up radio again in Germany.

He, of all people, had us reading McLuhan. At the time, McLuhan had to pay a typesetter extra just to print this book for him because it had pages where the type bled onto images and some pages were printed with upside-down text.

I
...more
Leah
Aug 01, 2016 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: trippy
In one of the most interestingly presented books I have seen, socio-cultural theorist, Marshall McLuhan, and graphics designer and artist, Quentin Fiore, present The Medium is the Massage, a book that, while written in the 1960s, has more direct application to our contemporary times than it did during its inception.

Taking its cue from the saying, "the medium is the message" and altering it to fit their own message, McLuhan and Fiore present the argument of how the electronic media is slowly lul
...more
Rita
Apr 03, 2012 Rita rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Through fragmented graphics, unconventional layouts, and the power of the written word, Marshall McLuhan demonstrates that the medium truly is the message. My reaction to McLuhen’s insights was a dubious acceptance. I get his point and can agree to a degree that we are changing our society and ourselves through technology.

McLuhan believes that a medium, or a technology, is an extension of the human being. Because of the medium we are able to affect greater and more rapid change. The wheel allow
...more
Christopher
It probably would be considered kitschy and quaint in today's world, but in 1967 this was a groundbreaking and far-out use of artistic design to facilitate Marshall McLuhan's musings on technology and its effects on society and communications. It came at a perfect time, when hippie culture was beginning to influence much of popular culture.

I became a fan of Marshall McLuhan through my subscription to Wired magazine in the late 1990s. Wired proclaimed McLuhan as the magazine's 'patron saint,' and
...more
Erik Graff
Mar 18, 2009 Erik Graff rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of the sixties
Recommended to Erik by: Edward James Erickson
Shelves: art
Not all my mentors in high school were teachers. Thanks to membership in Maine South's Social Science Society I was befriended by a number of older students, all of whom were leftist intellectuals of one sort or another, all of whom knew much more than I. The three most prominent were Arthur Goezke, Walter Wallace and Ed Erickson.

Of the Tri-S elders, Ed Erickson became my closest companion during the junior year--and even afterwards when he went off the the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urba
...more
Eric Phetteplace
Feb 01, 2011 Eric Phetteplace rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Great book, full of interesting observations, aphorisms, and quotes. Short and to the point, McLuhan gives an overview of his theory of media, including the difference between television and print, aural and visual, linear and non-linear. I thoroughly enjoyed the book even if McLuhan overstates his case and generalizes in several places; it's unreasonable to expect rigor from a short volume meant to be more emphatic than analytical. The only down side was that many of the pictures in my version ...more
Steven Peterson
In his day, Marshall McLuhan became a very significant figure in the study of media. While I found his work intriguing, I also did not think it work that would reshape how we studied media. This book begins with the following statement by McLuhan (Page 8): "Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication." At another point, he observes that (Page 26) "All media work us over completely."

A good brief treatment of M
...more
Andrew
Novel, I suppose... and really, really pretty to look at. Marshall McLuhan's buckshot approach to media theory works well in this context, even if it is completely dated and incoherent at times (TV cannot be on in the background, really?). I loved parsing through this masterwork of '60s design, but for media theory and related topics, McLuhan's own "The Gutenberg Galaxy" is a far more interesting work.
Travis
Feb 13, 2011 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, rhetoric
Required reading for anyone interested in information design, rhetoric, and social networking. As unintuitive as it might seem, the move toward ubiquitous electronic social networking is a move backward to an oral culture: time has ceased, space has vanished. Everyone is connected, and events are experienced without delay. We are back in acoustic space.
David
Jun 04, 2009 David rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating book, though I think I should have read McLuhan's seminal "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" first since this book not only builds off those ideas (from what I understand -- I still haven't read it) but also is very abstract and artistic. However McLuhan clearly has some brilliant ideas and "The Medium is the Massage" is a pretty cool book. Be prepared to think.
Josh
Mar 11, 2013 Josh rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: research-media
McLuhan is...well, unusual. What do I mean by that? Well, this is the only book I own in which I needed to use a mirror to read one page (and the following page needed to be read upside-down). Not you average paperback.

But well worth your time - this is much easier, but contains many of the same insights, as "The Gutenberg Galaxy."
Gillian
Feb 18, 2010 Gillian rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
Think that if I had read this as a 19 year old boy while stoned I would have thought it was amazing. Sadly I am neither of those things.

Lines such as "The ear favours no particular point of view. We are enveloped by sound" and "The environment as a processor of information is propaganda" sum up the book nicely. It's wank.
Rhonda
It's interesting to see some of the thoughts of the influence of technology and media of 1967 in the light of what we know today. It's also interesting how much of this actually applies to changes we are experiencing today.
Whitney
Apr 07, 2012 Whitney rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favs, the-graduate
another Must Read. uncannily predictive (of the internet) in its descriptions of the way modern media works! very important insights.
Ruth
Jan 26, 2008 Ruth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I remember reading this eons ago when it first came out. Damned if I knew what he was going on about. Wonder if it would make any more sense today than it did then.
Mikko Tamminen
May 17, 2015 Mikko Tamminen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Niin päräyttävä <3
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Herbert Marshall McLuhan, CC, was a Canadian educator, philosopher, and scholar — a professor of English literature, a literary critic, and a communications theorist. McLuhan's work is viewed as one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. McLuhan is known for coining the expressions "the medium is the message" and the "global village".

More about Marshall McLuhan...

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“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” 27 likes
“All
media
are
extensions
of
some
human
faculty-
psychic
or
physical.”
25 likes
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