The Medium Is the Massage : An Inventory of Effects
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The Medium Is the Massage : An Inventory of Effects

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  5,002 ratings  ·  170 reviews
Written by the author who is known for coining the term 'Global Village', this title illustrates his theories that force us to question how modes of communication have shaped society.
Paperback, Penguin Classics, 160 pages
Published September 25th 2008 by Penguin (first published 1967)
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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
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
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
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
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
Tom Schulte
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 3 of 5 stars  ·  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
Sean Pagaduan
Jul 09, 2011 Sean Pagaduan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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
Emma (Miss Print)
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
Apr 22, 2007 drbarb rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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
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
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...more
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
another Must Read. uncannily predictive (of the internet) in its descriptions of the way modern media works! very important insights.
Best graphic design book not about graphic design.
Tim Beck
Marshall McLuhan is/was a modern day prophet. his foreknowledge of what was and would eventually take place in society as a result of rapid technological advancement is nothing short of amazing. No doubt, the global village (a term coined by McLuhan) was a mere blip on the horizon when The Medium is the Massage was written, but McLuhan saw a scratch in the surface and with great insight and foresight he explains how technology functions one way while our human thinking functions another.

Using an...more
Interesting that this was written before facebook or other social media, the inernet full of any information desired, and children can easily loose their innocence before it is time, where put into practice. Now we live everyday with these ever present issues of privacy - what should and may not be or shouldn't and may be kept private. If I had read this book when it was first published in 1967, I may not have believed or recognized the potential for these issues becoming so, either because it s...more
Hans de Zwart
This quick read is in many ways a very whimsical book. But its simplicity is deceiving. A lot of what McLuhan writes is directly relevant today. The book described how the media/process of their day, electric technology, is changing every aspect of our social and personal lives. McLuhan shows how all media are extensions of some human faculty ("clothing, an extension of the skin"). A part of the book is dedicated to explaining how the alphabet, writing and then the printing industry has moved us...more
Tombom P
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
Todd Martin
The Medium is the Massage was first published in 1967 and consists of short blurbs centered around the influence of technology on culture interspersed with images that were constructed by graphic designer Quentin Fiore. The title is a play on McLuhan’s phrase “the medium is the message”, which conveys his idea that the means of communication determines the manner in which we think. For example he suggests that print, in which one word follows another, leads to linear thinking and individualism (...more
McLuhan and Fiore’s book uses a variety of media--linear text, photographs, cartoons, differently sized and juxtaposed--to both make and perform the argument that the media in which information is communicated is at least as important as the information or content itself. They also argue that in the age in which their book was printed (1967), electric media are bringing about an unprecedented shift: “It is forcing us to reconsider and reevaluate every thought, every action, and every institution...more
Peter Dunn
This time the medium is a mess. This is an entertaining and quirky way into some of Marshall McLuhan’s key concepts such as the “the global village” or “the medium is the message”. Though I would of course recommend also reading McLuhan’s “Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man” if you haven’t already done so before coming to this book.

So why am I giving it such a low score? Well that is entirely down to the printing of the particular edition of the book I was reading the Penguin Classics Se...more
This slim pamphlet provides an odd yet engaging assemblage that will bring you up to speed on this influential media thinker of the 1960s.

Remarkably McLuhan was then up to speed on what you are thinking about what you are thinking about today. The book provides bursts of McLuhan thought in Jenny Holzer/Barbara Kruger-like epigrams salted with skewed and upside down typoraphy, blocky poster graphics, and reprinted New Yorker cartoons. McLuhan and his "producer" seemed to have invented the Powerp...more
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  • The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility, and Other Writings on Media
  • Life on the Screen
  • Image, Music, Text
  • Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word
  • Marshall McLuhan: You Know Nothing of My Work!
  • The Culture Industry (Routledge Classics)
  • The Language of New Media
  • The Society of the Spectacle
  • Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide
  • The System of Objects
  • Writing and Difference
  • Mediated: How the Media Shapes Our World and the Way We Live in It
  • Cinema 2: The Time-Image
  • Against Interpretation and Other Essays
  • Shaping Things
Herbert Marshall McLuhan CC (July 21, 1911 - December 31, 1980) 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...
Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man War and Peace in the Global Village The Mechanical Bride: Folklore of Industrial Man The Global Village: Transformations in World Life and Media in the 21st Century

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