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The Medium is the Massage: An Inventory of Effects

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  12,546 ratings  ·  381 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 medi
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Paperback, Penguin Classics, 160 pages
Published September 25th 2008 by Penguin (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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Trevor
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 hav
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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 today...now more than ever!

notgettingenough
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 a
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Ariel
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!
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 u
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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.
Chris
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.
Crito
Jan 12, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
ksssshhhhk
ssiiiiiippp
Ahhhh...
leans back in chair
Now Marshall McLuhan, THAT was a real intellectual.
Jasmine
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
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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

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 doesn't mention the word Internet, but I'd imagine he'd not be surprised by it

McLuhan does not talk about the Internet - but he talks around it. He sees media's future - the integrated circuit, and talks about how this is the next step.

He talks about how Gutenberg's printing press made an entity known as the public, and expanded from there.

McLuhan as Nostradamus

Jennifer Wright noted in Get Well Soon: History's Worst Plagues and the Heroes Who Fought Them that Nostradamus had no magic to his prophecies, at least not in the standard sense.

She argues that Nostradamus was just an incredibly intelligent, educated, open-minded and forward thinking individual. Thus many of his innovative thoughts often came true.

You can argue the same for McLuhan. There is no magic in his thoughts, at least not in the standard sense. He's just an incredible intelligent visionary, who finds a way to see things we do not.

So put him up there with Nostradamus and Voltaire.

And if you want an accessible entry point into his thoughts, I'd recommend The Medium is the Massage - it's great.
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Muthuvel
'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 briefly. I
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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 constrai ...more
Lisa
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
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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, Ch
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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
I have no idea what this book is about
Joshua
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 oc
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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
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.
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Cheryl
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:


EXPOSTULATION AND REPLY

"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
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April
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
Hoagie
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."
Mon
Sep 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best graphic design book not about graphic design.
Adam Frederik
Nov 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ryan
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.
Andrew Greatorex
Aug 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a testament to how visionary McLuhan was that this book - about our relationship with technology - is still relevant today, some fifty years later.
Curtainthief
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.
Jason
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.
Sammy
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."
Laurian
Apr 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
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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".

“All
media
are
extensions
of
some
human
faculty-
psychic
or
physical.”
39 likes
“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".” 39 likes
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