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Understanding Media The Extensions of Man

ISBN-10: 0415253977
ISBN-13: 9780415253970
Edition: 2nd 2001 (Revised)
Authors: Marshall McLuhan
List price: $21.95
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Book details

List price: $21.95
Edition: 2nd
Copyright year: 2001
Publisher: Taylor & Francis Group
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 400
Size: 5.25" wide x 7.75" long
Weight: 0.858
Language: English

A poetry professor turned media theorist---or media guru, as some in the press called him at the time---Marshall McLuhan startled television watchers during the 1960's with the notion that the medium they were enthralled by was doing more than transmitting messages---it was the message: Its rapid-fire format, mixing programs and advertisements, conveyed as much as---or more than---any single broadcast element. McLuhan grew up in the prairie country of the Canadian West and studied English at the University of Manitoba and Cambridge University. As television entered a period of huge growth during the 1950's, McLuhan, then a college professor, became interested in advertising. He thought of it as something to be taken seriously as a new culture form, beyond its obvious capability of selling products. That interest led to his increasing speculation about what media did to audiences. In his unpredictable modern poetry classes at the University of Toronto, he spoke more and more of media. The students he taught were the television generation, the first to grow up with the medium. Many were fascinated by McLuhan's provocative observations that a medium of communication radically alters the experience being communicated. A society, he said, is shaped more by the style than by the content of its media. Thus, the linear, sequential style of printing established a linear, sequential style of thinking, in which one thing is considered after another in orderly fashion: it shaped a culture in which (objective) reason predominated and experience was isolated, compartmentalized, and repeatable. In contrast, the low-density images of television, composed of a mosaic of light and dark dots, established a style of response in which it is necessary to unconsciously reconfigure the dots immediately in order to derive meaning from them. It has shaped a culture in which (subjective) emotion predominates and experience is holistic and unrepeatable. Since television (and the other electronic media) transcends space and time, the world is becoming a global village---a community in which distance and isolation are overcome. McLuhan was crisp and assured in his pronouncements and impatient with those who failed to grasp their import. McLuhan's most famous saying, "the medium is the message," was explicated in the first chapter of his most successful book, "Understanding Media," published in 1966 and still in print. It sold very well for a rather abstruse book and brought McLuhan widespread attention in intellectual circles. The media industry responded by seeking his advice and enthusiastically disseminating his ideas in magazines and on television. These ideas caused people to perceive their environment, particularly their media environment, in radically new ways. It was an unsettling experience for some, liberating for others. Though McLuhan produced some useful insights, he was given to wild generalizations and flagrant exaggerations. Some thought him a charlatan, and he always felt himself an outcast at the university, at least partly because of his disdain for print culture and opposition to academic conventions. He never seemed quite as energetic after an operation in 1967 to remove a huge brain tumor, but he continued to work and teach until he suffered a stroke in 1979. He died a year later. Though today his writings are not discussed as much by the general public, his thesis is still considered valid and his ideas have become widely accepted.

Introduction to the MIT Press Edition
Introduction
The Medium Is the Message
Media Hot and Cold
Reversal of the Overheated Medium
The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis
Hybrid Energy: Les Liaisons Dangereuses
Media as Translators
Challenge and Collapse: The Nemesis of Creativity
The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil?
The Written Word: An Eye for a Ear
Roads and Paper Routes
Number: Profile of the Crowd
Clothing: Our Extended Skin
Housing: New Look and New Outlook
Money: The Poor Man's Credit Card
Clocks: The Scent of Time
The Print: How to Dig It
Comics: MAD Vestibule to TV
The Printed Word: Architect of Nationalism
Wheel, Bicycle, and Airplane
The Photograph: The Brothel-without-Walls
Press: Government by News Leak
Motorcar: The Mechanical Bride
Ads: Keeping Upset with the Joneses
Games: The Extensions of Man
Telegraph: The Social Hormone
The Typewriter: Into the Age of the Iron Whim
The Telephone: Sounding Brass or Tinkling Symbol?
The Phonograph: The Toy That Shrank the National Chest
Movies: The Real World
Radio: The Tribal Drum
Television: The Timid Giant
Weapons: War of the Icons
Automation: Learning a Living
Further Readings for Media Study

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