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The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  14,480 ratings  ·  482 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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Nick My Art&Design Contextual Practice lecturer told it as a printing error that McLuhan saw and insisted was kept, as it added to the book. The title thus…moreMy Art&Design Contextual Practice lecturer told it as a printing error that McLuhan saw and insisted was kept, as it added to the book. The title thus has four readings.
The Medium is the Massage
The Medium is the Message
The Medium is the Mass age (age of mass production)
The Medium is the Mess age (because it's all a huge mess)(less)
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 — lik…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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Dec 25, 2011 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
Jun 20, 2011 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
Jon 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!

Sep 13, 2014 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! ...more
John Matsui
Jul 24, 2016 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
'Our "Age of Anxiety" is, in great part, the result of trying to do today's job with yesterday's tools - with yesterday's concepts.'

I came to know about McLuhan, thanks to Neil Postman's work called Amusing ourselves to Death. Neil Postman, in his work, discussed extensively about the various forms of sources used by the people for the pursuit of knowledge and truth over the times of human civilization starting from the oral tradition, writing, typographical, telegraphical, televising traditions
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. ...more
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. ...more
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  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Kristis Maksvytis
Culture Shock! Future shock! Wired! Come on baby tune my circuit!

Whew, it's hard to saw whether Marshall Mcluhan was a prophet or, instead, we've just been repeating the same cycle of mistakes for decades, with slight cosmetic changes.

The Medium is the Massage reads like a zine, a manifesto, a dialogue and a disjointed treatise all at once. M.M., with the help of graphic designer Quentin Fiore, created one of the most interactive marriages of theory and practice put to paper. The book's messy,
Yuvi Panda
Mar 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'll probably take away different things from this book each time I read it. This isn't a review as much as how I feel having just read this book.

This time, I feel old. The internet that was mine is no longer mine. I've lost it to whatever it has become now. There is the fear it had always been like this, and I'm just noticing... But only way is to move forward. Can only live with the living. Can't pine for a world that never really existed.

I'm reading "Digital Minimalism" along this book. Thes
tom bomp
Apr 01, 2013 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 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
May 30, 2010 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
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. ...more
Utterly electrifying, radical, and downright brilliant. Completely changed the way I perceive the world around me, and is still just as relevant today as it was prescient when it was first published decades ago.
Einas Alhamali
I have no idea what this book is about
Aug 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It is difficult to remember that this book was first published in 1967, as the message of the "massage" is as relevant today as it was then. The use of images to make its point should not detract from the prose, even though it is minimal. McLuhan's "allatonceness" and "global village" take on new resonance in the Internet age. Where it diverges is in thinking we privilege acoustic space--I don't believe that is true. I think we are still largely beholden to the visual, and when in 1967 McLuhan w ...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
Aug 30, 2016 marked it as xx-dnf-skim-reference  ·  review of another edition
An historical work of art. To me, personally, a curiosity. I would have liked to have taken a course for which it was a required text, decades back when it was more immediately relevant.

But it did alert me to William Wordsworth's:


"WHY, William, on that old grey stone,
Thus for the length of half a day,
Why, William, sit you thus alone,
And dream your time away?

"Where are your books?--that light bequeathed
To Beings else forlorn and blind!
Up! up! and drink the spirit br
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
Nov 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
My first assignment for my university Alumni Association Book Club, the book which I have heard so much about from my studies in Educational Technology was a much faster read than I was led to believe. Most of it was visual stimulation, more than profound text, and kept up with the playful yet continually relevant discussion on how television has changed the way we think. The same, of course, could easily apply to the Internet and WiFi-Wiki-world that seems to have sprung out of McLuhan's mind. ...more
Feb 09, 2013 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." ...more
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best graphic design book not about graphic design.
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."
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
Irritating but insightful
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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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