The Medium Is The Message: Marshall Mcluhan’s Full Lecture

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The writ­ing of the Cana­dian philoso­pher Mar­shall McLuhan, has entered pop­u­lar jar­gon like that of few other mod­ern intel­lec­tu­als. Is there another line that has been quoted – and mis­quoted – as enthu­si­as­ti­cally as ‘the medium is the mes­sage’?, which set one of the cor­ner­stones of mod­ern media the­ory. In it, he argued, users will focus on the con­tent of the medium, rather than the medium itself, ren­der­ing them obliv­i­ous to the changes – soci­etal, reli­gious, cul­tural, etc. – that such a medium brings.

McLuhan, of course, was per­fectly aware of his sta­tus as the thinker du jour of the media age, the man every­one liked to quote over din­ner but hadn’t both­ered to read – for proof, just watch this clip from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall.

But what does “the medium is the mes­sage” really mean? Mcluhan him­self tries to explain just that on this lec­ture recorded by ABC Radio National Net­work on 27 June 1979 in Australia.


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