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This is Marshall McLuhan: The Medium is the Massage (1967) [video] (youtube.com)
86 points by dang on Apr 19, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 27 comments

So many quotable quotes in this video. Thank you HN'r dang for submitting it.

Marshall McLuhan was the man. I really liked his blend of truth-seeking mixed with his helping attitude. He was completely open, willing to tell anyone his views. A very brave man because he was unafraid to sound foolish. He struck out on his own path and spoke up, even though he suffered from stammering, but he knew enough words and handy phrases to bypass that verbal disability with ease.

I've read McLuhan's corpus, from beginning to end, yet every time I see him speak, his words, so carefully selected, become a revelation once again.

Can we have another McLuhan now, please? For our time? No. There's only one Marshall McLuhan. Just like there's only one genius of every type and age of their time, we'll not see his kind again for a long time. Thank goodness this man was with us, wrote so many books, was not unwilling to be recorded for posterity. A pioneer whose message has yet to be understood.

I had never actually seen this video, and when seeing references to it, even as I clicked this link, my eyes always saw "Massage" as "Message".

Silly brain... subconsciously thinking "The Medium is the Message" somehow made more sense as the intended title.

You were right the first time. "The medium is the message" was one of the pithy statements from Understanding Media (1964) that made McLuhan's name. The other variants of the phrase are all just plays on the first.

It's typical of McLuhan that he pretended the word "massage" was by design when in fact it had just been a typo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QL_9JKKj-xE#t=2m15s.

You're not the only one :)

> McLuhan frequently punned on the word "message", changing it to "mass age", "mess age", and "massage"; a later book, The Medium Is the Massage was originally to be titled The Medium is the Message, but McLuhan preferred the new title, which is said to have been a printing error.


I was introduced to McLuhan after I read Baudrillard's "America". Even though Baudrillard's written off as an obscurantist I still think the essay gives rich descriptions of the otherwise prosaic.

I mean, there's a part where he just talks about American deserts. He goes on to describe a gas station's lights always being on noting the temporariness of buildings like it.

Another writer that had a bead on the way we live now was Debord. I think it's absolutely worth thumbing through The Society of the Spectacle [1] just as an exercise in contextualizing the modern life. Different writers/theorists for sure, but worthy of consideration.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Society_of_the_Spectacle

Well I happen to have Mr. McLuhan right here...

In case anyone is wondering:

Woody Allen says those words in a movie... and McLuhan shows up: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sXJ8tKRlW3E

I'd very strongly recomment McLuhan's student, Neil Postman, and his books, Amusing Ourselves to Death and Technopoly.


I imagine most Canadians will know who Marshall McLuhan is simply because of the [Heritage Minute](https://www.historicacanada.ca/content/heritage-minutes/mars...). People often question government spending money on things like this, but the fact that I, and many Canadians remember it 20 years later tells me it works.

On a slightly different note, the musical version is nice too: https://vimeo.com/8022406

Terrence McKenna's lecture on McLuhan is also excellent-


Found via http://dangerousminds.net/comments/this_is_marshall_mcluhan, which is worth reading for background.

Thanks for the share. Really appreciate it!

It is extremely worth pondering the different media we deal in and how they affect our use of them. The tools shape the user.

This is particularly relevant in the age of Medium, Twitter, and reddit. How do you pick apart each medium and understand how it impresses a certain modality of use and thought onto the creator/consumer divide? That is not a small question.

Something that really opened my eyes to thinking about the design of everyday things was "Objectified" (2009), a documentary on industrial/product design.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9E2D2PaIcI

Could you expand on why this film came to your mind in this context. I also saw objectified but felt it was, to put lightly, a fluff self-glorification by designers.

We are immersed in the various mediums present in our daily life and being aware of the medium itself and what limitations or potentialities are available from that medium will demystify these otherwise mundane ubiquitous things we encounter everywhere.

In the context of "The Medium is the Massage", I brought up (industrial) design because physical products are a major part of our daily lives and I never really gave much thought as to how a tooth brush or a Macbook was developed and built. Yeah Objectified had a fair amount of self-glorification of the designer egos, but before I saw the film I had no real concept of who was behind all the stuff that I use in my daily life.

thanks for the clarification. design as a bi-product of human intuition and then an agent for influence back on it. got your point.

I absolutely recommend people read the book. It's not a light read, but it's startling how well McLuhan anticipated the internet era.

It's a great book, too.

Don't underestimate "19th century factory style" school systems. I think it's dangerous how fast rote memorization is put aside, when it's the only reliable means of reproducibly teaching certain topics.

On the other hand, deep learning researchers now make their neural networks memorize and reproduce their input, in order to better understand and deal with the data. There's a lesson to be learned here!

You missed his point entirely. It is that a child cannot see the purpose/usefulness of what he/she is learning at school.

Sounds familiar?

Why does purpose/usefulness matter? Dumbing down and restricting a curriculum to what is obviously "useful" is equally bad.

It matters because if people are not motivated to do something, they will not do it, or best case scenario - slack. This is especially true for kids. The purpose of schools is for kids to learn, not for teachers to teach.

Perhaps we can put more effort into explaining to kids why they need to learn those things.

"Massage", really?

How could both the video poster and OP mess up this quote?


Uh... did you read the article you just linked?

"McLuhan frequently punned on the word 'message', changing it to 'mass age', 'mess age", and 'massage'; a later book, The Medium Is the Massage was originally to be titled The Medium is the Message, but McLuhan preferred the new title, which is said to have been a printing error."

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