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The Bias of Communication [Paperback]

Harold A. Innis , Harold A. Innis , Alexander John Watson
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2008

One of the most influential books ever published in Canada, Harold A. Innis's The Bias of Communication has played a major part in reshaping our understanding of history, communication, and media theory. First published in 1951, this masterful collection of essays explores the relationship between a society's communication media and that community's ability to maintain control over its development. Innis considers political and economic forces in the context of social change and the role of communication in the creation of both ancient and modern empires.

In an essay for this new edition, Innis biographer Alexander John Watson examines the reasons why Innis, at the height of his success as an economic historian, embarked on new research areas of communications and empire, as well as the ways in which Marshall McLuhan's interpretations of Innis changed and de-politicized Innis's work.

As important today as it was when first published, The Bias of Communication is essential reading for historians and scholars of communication and media studies.


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About the Author

Alexander John Watson is a senior fellow at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto.

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"MINERVA'S OWL begins its flight only in the gathering dusk . . ." Hegel wrote in reference to the crystallization of culture achieved in major classical writings in the period that saw the decline and fall of Grecian civilization. Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book and its ideas have stayed with me over 15 years since university : Innis (who influenced Mcluhan) discusses the effect of changes in media on the history of civilization : ex. the invention of papyrus. sometimes obscure, but always a paradigm-shifter
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innis is a powerful experience July 1 2004
By nohmn
Format:Paperback
I find everything I read by Harold Innis deeply thought provoking. Even when he quotes what I feel are wrong headed observations by Marcel Granet or Winston Churchill on character based languages where I feel his conjectures reflect the fact he had never experienced learning such a language or thinking in one [instead of encouraging mental inflexibility, I would say, the contrary is true - 'lateral thinking' represented a concept I would never have had to introduce for any of my Chinese students], he feels so honest and so undogmatic, he is stimulating rather than irritating. [The passage occurs in 'A Plea For Time', one of the interesting essays in this book.]

He does not dogmatise but stimulates. He does not seek to preach but to help us participate in an ongoing process. In a way, he makes me feel, reading him, as I think a young Athenian might have felt who had had the chance to listen to and interact with Socrates.

I am very enthusiastic about this book and treasure my copy. I have become deeply interested in everything by Innis I can find.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Innis is a powerful experience July 1 2004
By nohmn - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I find everything I read by Harold Innis deeply thought provoking. Even when he quotes what I feel are wrong headed observations by Marcel Granet or Winston Churchill on character based langauges where I feel his conjectures reflect the fact he had never experienced learning such a language or thinking in one [instead of encouraging mental inflexibility, I would say, the contrary is true - 'lateral thinking' represented a concept I would never had had to introduce for any of my Chinese students], he feels so honest and so undogmatic, he is stimulating rather than irritating. [The passage occurs in 'A Plea For Time', one of the interesting essays in this book.]
He does not dogmatise but stimulates. He does not seek to preach but to help us participate in an ongoing process. In a way, he makes me feel, reading him, as I think a young Greek might have felt who had had the chance to spend time listening to Socrates.
I am very enthusiastic about this book and treasure my copy. I have become deeply interested in everything by Innis I can find.
15 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars keys to understanding the phases of human/media development Jan. 4 2000
By luccomeau@videotron.ca - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book and its ideas have stayed with me over 15 years since university : Innis (who influenced Mcluhan) discusses the effect of changes in media on the history of civilization : ex. the invention of papyrus. sometimes obscure, but always a paradigm-shifter
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