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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Marshall McLuhan and media


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Library Archives of Canada


Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980) was a Canadian philosopher best known for his analysis of media. Wikipedia says,


"McLuhan proposed that media themselves, not the content they carry, should be the focus of study - popularly quotes as 'the medium is the message'. McLuhan's insight was that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role not by the content delivered over the medium, but by the characteristics of the medium itself." (Wikipedia: Marshall McLuhan, 8.17.21 UTC 21:29)


The rest of this post is some quotes from McLuhan.




"Societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media by which humans communicate than by the content of the communication." (Quoted in The Book of Probes: Marshall McLuhan)


"It is the medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action." (Understanding Media, 1964)


"The new media are not bridges between man and nature - they are nature... The new media are not ways of relating us to the old world; they are the real world and they reshape what remains of the old world at will." (Media as the New Nature, 1969)


Writing and print


"Writing turned a spotlight on the high, dim Sierras of speech; writing was the visualization of acoustic space. It lit up the dark." (Counterblast, 1969)


"Gutenberg made all history available as classified data: the transportable book brought the world of the dead into the space of the gentlemen's library." (Counterblast, 1969)


"The portability of the book, like that of the easel-painting, added much to the new culture of individualism." (The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962)


"Print, in turning the vernaculars into mass media, or closed systems, created the uniform, centralizing forces of modern nationalism." (The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962)




"The most human thing about us is our technology." (Man and the Future of Organizations, 1974)


"When new technologies impose themselves on societies long habituated to older technologies, anxieties of all kinds result." (Location, 1963)


"We are as numb in our new electric world as the native involved in our literate and mechanical culture." (Understanding Media, 1964)


"Any new technology is an evolutionary and biological mutation opening doors of perception and new spheres of action to mankind." (Quoted in The Book of Probes: Marshall McLuhan)