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.