The name of the book
comes from McLuhan’s
“Medium is the Message”
The book is called
“Medium is the Massage”
because a typesetter’s mistake.
McLuhan loved it, because he realised that
the saying was already a cliche
The term “massage” creates
a link to McLuhan’s thinking.
The modern media is considered
to be soothing and relaxing,
but according to McLuhan,
the pleasure is conceiving
The changes in society and the rapid
progress in technology is affecting
every part of us as human beings,
causing anxiety (“the age of anxiety”
see the poem by W. H. Auden)
What’s the message of a melody,
or a house or a dress?
Understanding the term “medium”:
1. THE MEDIUM AS A DEVICE
(book, movie, etc)
2. THE MEDIUM AS A PROCESS
(Alphabets, automation of technology,
For example automation of technology,
the main focus of the medium is not the
end result from the machine (food, cars
etc), but the larger impact of the change
from manual labour to automation.
The “medium” changed from
human to machine. For the “message” of
any medium or technology is the change of
scale or pace or pattern that it introduces
into human affairs.
The medium (as a device) affects
the users approach and attitude
towards the subject matter
(Holocaust: Cartoon vs. TV documentary)
Characteristic of all media is that the
“content” of any medium is always
The content of writing is speech, just as the
written word is the content of print. The
content of speech is a process of thought.
PRINT – WRITTEN WORD – SPEECH – “PROCESS OF THOUGHT, NONVERBAL”
Mediums are extensions
of human abilities: the book is an exten-
sion of the eye, the wheel is an exten-
sion of the foot. The Internet – it’s the
extension of consciousness.
When thinking about McLuhan’s aim to
“put people on” (teasing, challenging,
upsetting), he deliberately overstates
his sayings. “Medium is the message (or
massage)” is deliberately provocative
and over simplification of his theory.
From Hybrid narrative point of view,
juxtaposing text and photos
and drawings clarifies McLuhan’s com-
plicated theory. Or at least tries to. The
book’s design challenge reader
to consider the effect of unconventional
I only introduce this one concept
briefly in presentation,
other interesting and central concepts are:
“The rear-view mirror”
“The invisible environment”
One of McLuhan’s central term is
Global Village. It can be described as
the internet we know today. Social cir-
cles are expanded and people can eas-
ily find communities and interact with
each other, share same interests and
According to McLuhan, we are in the
chaotic world of all-at-onceness (the
high speeds of electric communications)
and tribal emotions, because we
confront this new situation and
environment with outdated mindset.
Negative effect is that it ensures
disagreements and discontinuity.
Internet as a medium also affects how
people communicate with each other,
because it lacks physical contact and
emotions. People tend to behave
differently in Social media than
in real life.
My conclusion is that McLuhans
“medium” should be understood more
wider meaning than just a technical
medium (Device vs. Process).
It represents a larger system or phenom-
enon, that has changed we understand
the world and how we operate in it.
“You see, Dad, Professor McLuhan says the environment that man cre-
ates becomes his medium for defining his role in it. The invention of
type created linear, or sequential, thought, separating thought from ac-
tion. Now, with TV and folk singing, thought and action are closer and
social involvement is greater. We again live in a village. Get it?”