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The medium is the massage : an inventory of effects

3.95  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,044 Ratings  ·  232 Reviews
In a dazzling fusion of Quentin Fiore's bold and inventive graphic design and Marshall McLuhan's unique insight into technology, advertising and mass-media, The Medium is the Massage is a unique study of human communication in the twentieth century, published in Penguin Modern Classics

Marshall McLuhan is the man who predicted the all-pervasive rise of modern mass media. Bl
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 160 pages
Published September 25th 2008 by Penguin (first published 1967)
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معين Plural of media, as in forms of media.

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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
Dec 04, 2013 notgettingenough rated it really liked it
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
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
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
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
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
Dec 20, 2011 Jasmine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 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
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
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
Jul 06, 2008 Leah rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
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
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.

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
Guilherme Gontijo
Mikko Tamminen
May 17, 2015 Mikko Tamminen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Niin päräyttävä <3
Julio Mejía III
Jan 18, 2015 Julio Mejía III rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Marshall McLuhan se le conoce sobre todo por una frase, cuya sentido a veces no se explora a profundidad: El medio es el mensaje. Este libro, cuyo título es una variación (un juego de palabras, más bien) sobre esta sentencia, explica efectivamente la influencia en que el medio comunicativo de nuestro tiempo (o de cualquier tiempo) influye mucho más en la dinámica social que los contenidos de cualquier mensaje. Este libro, escrito en 1967, es una reacción inteligente y divertida al fenómeno com ...more
Ali Reda
Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication. It is impossible to understand social and cultural changes without a knowledge of the workings of media. The alphabet, for instance, is a technology that is absorbed by the very young child in a completely unconscious manner, by osmosis so to speak. Words and the meaning of words predispose the child to think and act automatically in certain ways.

Until writing was
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.
There is a lot I want to unpack and reflect on (both in agreement and to refute), but given that my read through of this book was with an eye for literary enjoyment and not critical analysis, I'll hold my piece until I get a more academically-minded re-read in at some point in the, possibly distant, future.

That said, this is a book that's been in my to-read shelf for literally years ever since I read Douglas Coupland's biography of McLuhan (Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!) and I'm
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.
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.
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.
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."
Mark Valentine
Mar 16, 2016 Mark Valentine rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is a subversive bomb to set under the seat of a smug policy wonk. It is a counter book, an anti-book. It is the snake biting its own tail. It is all the rave right now--all around us--and no one knows it because the medium is the massage, because we cannot tell that we are missing the media until we are away from it like a fish on the riverbank, because we live and breath stories that saturate us like neutrinos, we cannot tell because we think it is the ABOUT something when it is really only ...more
Bill Hauk
Mar 27, 2016 Bill Hauk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm of two minds about this book. On the one hand, I think that Prof. McLuhan is basically right in that the dominant medium of communication affects our perception of the world and how we think (or don't think) about it. I revisited the book, largely because I think that the rise of the internet -- in particular, blogs and social media -- has profoundly affected our politics in ways that are not completely good. I suspect that Prof. McLuhan would be nodding along. On the other hand, the graphic ...more
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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".

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“There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening.” 25 likes
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