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The Medium is the Massage

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  11,159 ratings  ·  359 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 August 1st 2001 by Gingko Press (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)
Phil I think perhaps the answer is more disturbing - it is an honest, inexplicable, inexcusable, disastrously embarrassing, grievous and pathetic spelling…moreI think perhaps the answer is more disturbing - it is an honest, inexplicable, inexcusable, disastrously embarrassing, grievous and pathetic spelling mistake. (less)

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3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  11,159 ratings  ·  359 reviews

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Dec 25, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 20, 2011 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
Sep 13, 2014 rated it really liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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
Nate D
Nov 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classic pop-theoretical discourse (via kinetic typography and image) on the effects of changing media in the 20th century. Prescient. Perhaps as relevant in today's hyperconnectivity as in the television era of its conception. And with a kind of ambivalence of value that seems appropriate: once technology changes, there's no going back and it may be more useful to "inventory the effects" than to judge or decry.
Mar 29, 2017 rated it really liked it
For a book published 5o years ago, this short book has aged very well (beyond a few references to the technology of the times). Still can't believe that we didn't read this in my graduate program, since so many authors name dropped McLuhan.
Dec 20, 2011 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
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
leans back in chair
Now Marshall McLuhan, THAT was a real intellectual.
Jonathan Maas
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A Prophetic Book - Written Decades Ago, Most all of it Applies Today

The Medium is the Massage became a cult bestseller in the 1960s due to its broad ranging appeal that made sense of the current age and the future, and also because of its incredible layout from graphic designer Quentin Fiore.

The Medium is the Massage Graphic

The Medium is the Massage Graphic

But this is more than just a hip book with innovative graphics.

It informs us of where we are today, why? Because Marshall McLuhan talks about media in the form of integrated circuits.

Marshall McLuhan doe
Jon(athan) Nakapalau
This book has been on my list for so long - now I am in awe of Marshall McLuhan built upon the work of Ferdinand Tönnies and Max Weber (Gemeinschaft und Gesellschaft) and helped us understand the seismic waves that would trigger the 'reality-quake' that the media started in the 60's...the effects of which we are still feeling more than ever!

May 30, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Erik Graff
Mar 18, 2009 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
Jeff Jackson
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written in the late 1960s, much of this book uncannily feels like it's directly addressing the massive changes wrought by the internet. McLuhan's cautious optimism may feel out of step with our moment, but replace "global village" with "global tribalism" and this book could've been ripped from the headlines. Visionary and then some.
Einas Alhamali
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was ok
I have no idea what this book is about
tom bomp
Apr 01, 2013 rated it did not like it
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
Sean Pagaduan
Jul 08, 2011 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 18, 2012 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
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cultural-studies
An excellent and very odd book. A review could be written entirely of quotes, which is more or less what I've done below.

The essential point of the book is that “Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which men communicate than by the content of the communication.”

Quotes from here

“The major advances of civilization are processes that all but wreck the societies in which they occur.”
“"Come into my parlor,” said the computer to the specialist.”
“The alphabet and print
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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."
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it
Best graphic design book not about graphic design.
Adam Frederik
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Amazing that I did not get around to reading this classic before! But better late than never and it is shocking. Published in 1967 I dare you to find any book whose vision to such an extent heralds and encompasses our current struggles with adapting culture to the speed of digital. Sure McLuhan deals with the 'electrical' media of his time, but his clear analysis makes it easy to extrapolate to the digital age. His insistence that electrical media forces us to live mythically even taps into the ...more
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-year-zero, ic
I was really bummed when I found this because the titular pun had come to me on the toilet about a month earlier, and I could no longer be proud of my presumed invention.
When McLuhan's thought had a resurgence in the mid-90s, I tried to read this and was utterly lost. (Unsurprisingly, alas.) A quarter-century and social media later, I see this as nothing short of prescient, in terms of form and content alike. I know better than to pontificate though.
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I hate it when my review is above the global average but, come on! MCLUHAN!

"There is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening."
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ux, non-fiction
Interesting but like in the same way that going to a modern art museum is interesting. The book itself is a piece of art, let alone the message it is trying to stimulate.
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I guess, art is what you can get away with! I think the book's thesis applies even better to the internet.

The thesis is pretty obvious, as the title states: medium does affect our perceptions.

Some quotes:

The shock of recognition! In an electric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained—ignored. Too many people know too much about each other. Our new environment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevocably involved with, and responsible for, each othe
Kinsey Major
Nov 28, 2018 rated it really liked it
Yowzers, really good and easy to read theory. Loved the layout
Supriya Raghavendra
It's strange how accurate McLuhan is in describing many of the contemporary issues with new and emerging mediums of today. The book itself was an experience that is contradictory in how the use of disorienting visuals brought about a coherence (albeit a vague coherence at times). Thoroughly enjoyed both the ideas and the graphics! Brilliant book.
Tom Schulte
May 15, 2014 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
Emma (Miss Print)
Feb 18, 2009 rated it it was ok
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
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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".

“The poet, the artist, the sleuth - whoever sharpens our perception tends to be antisocial; rarely "well-adjusted", he cannot go along with currents and trends. A strange bond often exists between antisocial types in their power to see environments as they really are. This need to interface, to confront environments with a certain antisocial power is manifest in the famous story "The Emperor's New Clothes".” 36 likes
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