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Understanding Media – Marshall Mcluhan

Posted 30th January 2012 by    email Email article     share Share article

I recently read the book ‘Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man’ by Marshall McLuhan. This great book brought the message of ‘it’s not about the media’s content, but rather how the characteristics of the media itself are conveyed’. McLuhan’s insight was that a medium affects the society in which it plays a role in not by the content delivered over the medium, but by its characteristics of the medium itself. The medium in itself should be the focus of study not the content that is carried on it.

A prime example McLuhan used what a light bulb, ‘a Light bulb does not have content in the way that a newspaper has articles or a television has programs, it is a medium that has a social effect i.e. a light bulb enables people to create spaces during night time that would otherwise be enveloped by darkness’. He describes a light bulb as a medium without any content. His most controversial point on the subject of mediums was his belief of content having little effect on society, in other words, it did not matter if television broadcasts children’s shows or violent programming the effect of televisions on society would be identical.

The book is in fact the source of the well-known phrase ‘The medium is the message’. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would highly recommend to any media enthusiast.
You can find the book on Amazon and similar sites; also I found an interesting part of the book discussed on YouTube, shown below.


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