Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man Paperback – Oct 24 1994
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...the most brilliant marketing mind of all belonged to Marshall McLuhan. Understanding Media is a timeless analysis of how language, speech and technology shape human behavior in the era of mass communication. The book is a cautionary tale for marketers today who hear the Web's siren call and ignore the power of the spoken word.(Wall Street Journal)
Though he was once proclaimed "the oracle of the electronic age," perhaps the world was not quite ready for Marshall McLuhan when he came to prominence in the 1960s. With the advent of digital technology, the Internet, and the global economy, however, there can be little doubt that he is relevant now. Understanding Media is one of McLuhan's most popular books, offering some of his more pungent and provocative insights on our need to adapt from a relatively slow, fragmented mechanical age to a high-speed, highly integrated electronic one. McLuhan's formidable intelligence and imagination make it both enlightening and fun to read. Northrop Frye, McLuhan's colleague at the University of Toronto, once identified "the use of paradox and the pretence of naïveté" as the two primary tactics of teaching. From his own bag of tricks McLuhan adds obscurity ("Our world has become compressional by dramatic reversal"); hyperbole ("We have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time"); tautology ("TV is environmental and imperceptible, like all environments"); and the occasional dash of absurdist whimsy ("As extension of man the chair is a specialist ablation of the posterior, a sort of ablative absolute of backside, whereas the couch extends the integral being"). McLuhan also has a flare for the catchy phrase, and in Understanding Media the reader will find his famous dictum "the medium is the message" as well as the distinction between "hot" and "cool" media discussed at length.
After setting forth a few general principles, Understanding Media conjures a fly's-eye view of late-20th-century culture, with short sections on writing, speech, comics, telephones, television, money, movies, weapons, and much more. And while the discussion is rippling with uncanny, sometimes visionary, insight, its author remains an earnest humanist at heart. "The aspiration of our time for wholeness, empathy and depth of awareness," McLuhan says, "is a natural adjunct of electronic technology. There is a deep faith to be found in this new attitude." --Russell Prather
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In other words, and in acknowldgement of Nicholas Carr's own work, how shallow can you get?
This book, "Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man" is by far McLuhan's greatest book. It is set up like any useful text with the first part being the theory, while the second part contains the practice. He explains in the theoretical part that media is the extension of man. That all things created by man have come from man's own experience. This is like a dream, in one sense, where one must determine at some point that they are creators of the dream, and therefore, all content of the dream must apply to the dreamer's existence, and no one elses. Likewise, all inventions and discoveries are aspects of human dimensions that have been created by man, and therefore must come from man's inner experiences. These inventions are ultimately what McLuhan calls extensions, as they extend our human capacity for that movement or experience. The foot can travel so fast, while the tire is the extension of the foot, and therefore can move at a much higher rate of speed than the foot.
It seems that the most confusing aspect of McLuhan's theories is the idea of content versus context. The assumption of media study is to psychologize advertisments or the like. This way of approach is far from his point. He says, "My own way of approaching the media is perceptual not conceptual." What he is saying is that he uses his senses to gain understanding of the media, not theoretical concepts.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
At first I didn't get what McLuhan was on about. But once I cottoned on to the full implications of white light being pure information without content, it all made sense. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2003
Become more confused by reading it is more like it. Marshall McLuhan has lots of ideas and very little back-up. Read morePublished on Aug. 13 2002
I found this book in a second-hand bookstore for under one dollar. Had never heard of it, had never heard of him but I am fascinated by the media, specifically advertising. Read morePublished on Dec 6 2001 by A. Ort
Marshall McLuhan introduces us to the world of the media through history and how these media have dominated our life for centuries, from the very beginning of humanity. Read morePublished on Oct. 4 2001 by Dr Jacques COULARDEAU
McLuhan, who served as the Director for the Center for Culture and Technology at the University of Toronto in the mid 1960s, wrote four major works focusing focus on media's impact... Read morePublished on July 25 2001 by William Gawthrop
UNDERSTANDING MEDIA is the Marshall McLuhan "bible". He is regarded as Information Age guru so there is onus in becoming familiar with his ideas even when they are... Read morePublished on July 19 2001 by Arthur F. McVarish
A Triple A Triptych for those of us that are clueless about the new fandangled.Published on March 3 2001 by Dennis E. Hill
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