tional and practical fact, the medium is the message. This is merely to say that the personal and social consequences of any medium—that is, of any extension of. The medium, or process, of our time—electric tech- nology—is "The Medium is the Massage" is a look-around to Its message is Total Change, ending. In , Marshall McLuan coined the phrase "the medium is the message" thereby acquainting society with the subconscious changes to.
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PDF | On Sep 2, , Jim Euchner and others published The Medium is the Message. First published in 1 %1 The Medium is the Massage has sold more than one . Its message is Total Change, ending psychic, social, economic, and political. "The medium is the message" is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan introduced in . Print/export. Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version.
Unhappily, many well-intentioned politi- cal reform programs that aim at the alleviation of suffering caused by un- employment betray an ignorance of the true nature of media-influence. The public, in the sense of a great consensus of separate and distinct viewpoints, is finished. To- day, the mass audience the successor to the "public" can be used as a cre- ative, participating force.
It is, instead, merely given packages of passive en- tertainment. Politics offers yesterday's answers to today's questions. A new form of "politics" is emerging, and in ways we haven't yet noticed. The living room has become a voting booth. Participation via television in Freedom Marches, in war, revolution, pollution, and other events is changing everything. In an elec- tric information environment, minority groups can no longer be contained— ignored.
Too many people know too much about each other. Our new en- vironment compels commitment and participation. We have become irrevo- cably involved with, and responsible for, each other. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us un- touched, unaffected, unaltered.
The medium is the massage. Any understanding of social and cultural change is impossible without a knowledge of the way media work as environments.
All media are extensions of some human faculty — psychic or physical. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act— the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change, men change. Man was given an eye for an ear. Western history was shaped for some three thou- sand years by the introduction of the phonetic alephbet, a medium that depends solely on the eye for comprehension.
The alphabet is a construct of fragmented bits and parts which have no semantic meaning in themselves, and which must be strung together in a line, bead-like, and in a prescribed order. Its use fostered and encouraged the habit of perceiving all environment in visual and spatial terms — particularly in terms of a space and of a time that are uniform, c,o,n,t,i,n,u,o,u,s and c-o-n-n-e-c-t-e-d.
The line, the continuum — this sentence is a prime example- became the organizing principle of life. For many people rationality has the connotation of uniformity and connectiveness. The rational man in our Western culture is a visual man. The fact that most conscious ex- perience has little "visuality" in it is lost on him. Rationality and visuality have long been inter- changeable terms, but we do not live in a primarily visual world any more.
The fragmenting of activities, our habit of thinking in bits and parts — "specialism"— reflected the step- by-step linear departmentalizing process inherent in the technology of the alphabet. Speech is a social chart of this bog. The goose quill put an end to talk. It abolished mystery; it gave architecture and towns; it brought roads and armies, bureaucracy. It was the basic metaphor with which the cycle of civilization be- gan, the step from the dark into the light of the mind.
The hand that filled the parchment page built a city. Printing, a ditto device 50 Printing, a ditto device Printing, a ditto device confirmed and extended the new visual stress. It provided the first uniformly repeatable "commodity," the first as- sembly line — mass production.
It created the portable book, which men could read in privacy and in isolation from others. Man could now inspire — and conspire. Like easel painting, the printed book added much to the new cult of individualism. The private, fixed point of view became possible and literacy con- ferred the power of detachment, non-involvement. No Involvement! The viewer of Renaissance art is systematically placed outside the frame of experience.
A piazza for everything and everything in its piazza. The instantaneous world of electric informational media involves all of us, all at once. No detachment or frame is possible. The whole concept of enclosure as a means of con- straint and as a means of classifying doesn't work as well in our electronic world.
The new feeling that people have about guilt is not something that can be privately assigned to some individual, but is, rather, something shared by everybody, in some mysterious way. This feeling seems to be returning to our midst. In tribal societies we are told that it is a familiar reaction, when some hideous event occurs, for some people to say, "How horrible it must be to feel like that," instead of blaming some- body for having done something horrible. This feel- ing is an aspect of the new mass culture we are moving into — a world of total involvement in which everybody is so profoundly involved with every- body else and in which nobody can really imagine what private guilt can be anymore.
We now live in a global village. We are back in acoustic space. We have begun again to structure the primordial feeling, the tribal emo- tions from which a few centuries of literacy divorced us. We have had to shift our stress of attention from action to reaction.
We must now know in advance the consequences of any policy or action, since the results are experienced without delay. Because of electric speed, we can no longer wait and see. George Washington once remarked, "We haven't heard from Benj. Franklin in Paris this year. We should write him a letter. Unhappily, we confront this new situation with an enormous backlog of outdated mental and psycho- logical responses.
We have been left d-a-n- g-l-i-n-g. Our most impressive words and thoughts betray us— they refer us only to the past, not to the present. Electric circuitry profoundly involves men with one another. Information pours upon us, instantane- ously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is very rapidly replaced by still newer information.
Our electrically-configured world has forced us to move from the habit of data classifica- tion to the mode of pattern recognition. We can no longer build serially, block-by-block, step-by-step, because instant communication insures that all factors of the environment and of experience co- exist in a state of active interplay. We have now become aware of the possibility of arranging the entire human environment as a work of art, as a teaching machine designed to maximize perception and to make everyday learning a proc- ess of discovery.
Application of this knowledge would be the equivalent of a thermostat controlling room temperature. It would seem only reasonable to extend such controls to all the sensory thresh- olds of our being. We have no reason to be grate- ful to those who juggle these thresholds in the name of haphazard innovation. An astronomer looking through a inch tele- scope exclaimed that it was going to rain.
His assistant asked, "How can you tell? The groundrules, pervasive structure, and over-all pat- terns of environments elude easy perception.
Anti- environments, or countersituations made by artists, provide means of direct attention and enable us to see and understand more clearly. The interplay between the old and the new environments cre- ates many problems and confusions.
The main obstacle to a clear understanding of the effects of the new media is our deeply embedded habit of regarding all phenomena from a fixed point of view. We speak, for instance, of "gaining perspec- tive. Print technology created the public. Electric tech- nology created the mass.
The public consists of separate individuals walking around with separate, fixed points of view. The new technology demands 69 that we abandon the luxury of this posture, this fragmentary outlook. The method of our time is to use not a single but multiple models for exploration — the technique of the suspended judgment is the discovery of the twentieth century as the technique of invention was the discovery of the nineteenth.
There have just been so many of them lately. The railway radically altered the personal outlooks and patterns of social interdependence.
It bred and nurtured the American Dream. It created to- tally new urban, social, and family worlds. New ways of work. New ways of management. New legislation. The technology of the railway created the myth of a green pasture world of innocence. It satisfied man's desire to withdraw from society, symbolized by the city, to a rural setting where he could recover his animal and natural self. It was the pas- toral ideal, a Jeffersonian world, an agrarian de- mocracy which was intended to serve as a guide to social policy.
It gave us darkest suburbia and its lasting symbol: the lawnmower. The circuited city of the future will not be the huge hunk of concentrated real estate created by the railway.
It will take on a totally new meaning under conditions of very rapid movement. It will be an information megalopolis. What remains of the con- figuration of former "cities" will be very much like World's Fairs — places in which to show off new technology, not places of work or residence.
They will be preserved, museumlike, as living monu- ments to the railway era. If we were to dispose of the city now, future societies would reconstruct them, like so-many Williamsburgs.
When faced with a totally new situation, we tend always to attach ourselves to the objects, to the flavor of the most recent past. We look at the present through a rear-view mirror. We march backwards into the future. Suburbia lives imaginatively in Bonanza-land. When information is brushed against information. The peren nial quest for involvement, fill-in, takes many forms The stars are so big, The Earth is so small, Stay as you are. Their groundrules, pervasive structure, and overall patterns elude easy perception.
A strange bond often exists among anti- social types in their power to see environments as they really are. This need to interface, to con- front environments with a certain antisocial power, is manifest in the famous story, "The Emperor's New Clothes.
The "antisocial" brat, unaccustomed to the old environment, clearly saw that the Emperor "ain't got nothin 1 on.
Sneed Martin, Larson E. Whipsnade, Chester Snavely, A.
Pismo Clam, J. Pinkerton Snoop- ington, Mahatma Kane Jeeves-he was always the man on the flying trapeze. On the stage, on the silver screen, all through his life, he swung between the ridiculous and the sublime, using humor as a probe.
Humor as a system of communications and as a probe of our environment — of what's really going on — affords us our most appealing anti-environ- mental tool. It does not deal in theory, but in imme- diate experience, and is often the best guide to changing perceptions. Older societies thrived on purely literary plots. They demanded story lines. Today's humor, on the contrary, has no story line- no sequence.
It is usually a compressed overlay of stories. My hours out of school were passed at home and in the streets. He was one of the great founders of modern physics. It is generally acknowledged that Faraday's ignorance of mathematics contributed to his inspiration, that it compelled him to develop a simple, nonmathematical conceptwhen he looked for an explanation of his electrical and magnetic phenomena.
Faraday had two qualities that more than made up for his lack of education: fantastic intuition and independence and originality of mind.
Professionalism is environmental. Amateurism is anti-environmental. Professionalism merges the individual into patterns of total environment. Amateurism seeks the development of the total awareness of the individual and the critical aware- ness of the groundrules of society. The amateur can afford to lose. The professional tends to classify and to specialize, to accept uncritically the groundrules of the environment.
The groundrules provided by the mass response of his colleagues serve as a pervasive environment of which he is contentedly and unaware. The "expert" is the man who stays put.
Robert Oppenheimer Our official culture is striving to force the new media to do the work of the old. These are difficult times because we are witness- ing a clash of cataclysmic proportions between two great technologies.
We approach the new with the psychological conditioning and sensory re- sponses of the old. This clash naturally occurs in transitional periods. In late medieval art, for in- stance, we saw the fear of the new print technology expressed in the theme The Dance of Death.
To- day, similar fears are expressed in the Theater of the Absurd. Both represent a common failure: the attempt to do a job demanded by the new environ- ment with the tools of the old. This only possible door for them is slammed in their faces by a rear-view- mirror society. The young today live mythically and in depth. But they encounter instruction in situations organized by means of classified information — subjects are unrelated, they are visually conceived in terms of a blueprint.
Many of our institutions suppress all the natural direct experience of youth, who respond with untaught delight to the poetry and the beauty of the new technological environment, the environ- ment of popular culture. It could be their door to all past achievement if studied as an active and not necessarily benign force.
The student finds no means of involvement for himself and cannot discover how the educational scheme relates to his mythic world of electronically processed data and experience that his clear and direct responses report. It is a matter of the greatest urgency that our edu- cational institutions realize that we now have civil war among these environments created by media other than the printed word. The classroom is now in a vital struggle for survival with the immensely persuasive "outside" world created by new informa- tional media.
Education must shift from instruction, from imposing of stencils, to discovery — to probing and exploration and to the recognition of the lan- guage of forms. The young today reject goals. That is, total involvement. They do not want fragmented, specialized goals or jobs. We now experience simultaneously the dropout and the teach-in. The two forms are correlative. They belong together. The teach-in represents an attempt to shift education from instruction to dis- covery, from brainwashing students to brainwash- ing instructors.
It is a big, dramatic reversal. Viet- nam, as the content of the teach-in, is a very small and perhaps misleading Red Herring. It really has little to do with the teach-in, as such, anymore than with the dropout.
The dropout represents a rejection of nineteenth- century technology as manifested in our educa- tional establishments. The teach-in represents a creative effort, switching the educational process from package to discovery. As the audience be- comes a participant in the total electric drama, the classroom can become a scene in which the audience performs an enormous amount of work. The ear favors no particular "point of view. It forms a seamless web around us. We say, "Music shall fill the air.
Sounds come from "above," from "below," from in "front" of us, from "behind" us, from our "right," from our "left. We simply are not equipped with earlids.
Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships. You give your disciples not truth but only the semblance of truth; they will be heroes of many things, and will have learned nothing; they will appear to be omniscient and will generally know nothing.
All the per- suasive skills of the poetic and the dramatic idiom were marshaled to insure the faithful transmission of the tradition from generation to generation.
These Bardic songs were rhythmically organized with great formal mastery into metrical patterns which insured that everyone was psychologically attuned to memorization and to easy recall. There was no ear illiteracy in pre-literate Greece. In the "Republic," Plato vigorously attacked the oral, poetized form as a vehicle for communicating knowledge. He pleaded for a more precise method of communication and classification "The Ideas" , one which would favor the investigation of facts, principles of reality, human nature, and conduct.
What the Greeks meant by "poetry" was radically different from what we mean by poetry. Their "poetic" expression was a product of a collective psyche and mind.
The mimetic form, a technique that exploited rhythm, meter, and music, achieved the desired psychological response in the listener. Listeners could memorize with greater ease what was sung than what was said.
Plato attacked this method because it discouraged disputation and argument. It was in his opinion the chief obstacle to abstract, speculative reasoning— he called it "a poison, and an enemy of the people. Myth is the mode of simultaneous awareness of a complex group of causes and effects.
Electric circuitry'confers a mythic dimension on our ordinary individual and group actions. Google Scholar Beynon-Davies, P. Dances with bees: exploring the relevance of the study of animal communication to informatics. International Journal of Information Management 30 1 : — A Theory of Semiotics.
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