Introduction to the Second Edition


1. The Medium is the Message
2. Media Hot and Cold
3. Reversal of the Overheated Medium
4. The Gadget Lover: Narcissus as Narcosis
5. Hybrid Energy: Les Liasions Dangereuses
6. Media as Translators
7. Challenge and Collapse: The Nemesis of Creativity


8. The Spoken Word: Flower of Evil?
9. The Written Word: An Eye for an Ear
10. Roads and Paper Routes
11. Number: Profile of the Crowd
12. Clothing: Our Extended Skin
13. Housing: New Look and New Outlook
14. Money: The Poor Man's Credit Card
15. Clocks: The Scent of Time
16. The Print: How to Dig It


What is the message of speech?

(fall from grace, reaction time, modulative, tribal (collective rather than individual), expressive, emotive)

INVENTORY: song (Deleuze quote), magic, hypnotism (impossible to do in other media?), stuttering, babel, barking, transmission error and error correction (teaching, discourse)

One native, the only literate member of his group, told of acting as a reader for others when they received letters. He said he felt impelled to put his fingers to his ears while reading aloud, so as not to violate the privacy of their letters. This is interesting testimony to the values of privacy fostered by the visual stress of phonetic writing.

Writing makes speech (which was public) private. Writing 'affords' privacy.

The spoken word does not afford the extension and amplification of the visual power needed for habits of individualism and privacy.

The ear is a temporal organ. Speech is ephemeral. Speech is immediate, real time, performative. Recorded speech is received (played back) in 'real time'. The eye, on the other hand, is a spatial organ. Writing creates space. Writing can be searched by scanning...

Language does for intelligence what the wheel does for the feet and the body. It enables them to move from thing to thing with greater ease and speed and less involvement. Language extends and amplifies man but it also divides his faculties. His collective consciousness or intuitive awareness is diminished by this technical extension of consciousness that is speech.

The patterns of the senses that are extended in the various languages of men are as varied as styles of dress and art. Each mother tongue teaches its users a way of seeing and feeling the world, and of acting in the world, that is quite unique.

FTF (face to face) speech, fuzzy, appealing to more of the senses and thus less specialist than writing, seems to afford more potential for error transmission (think of the game where a sentence is whispered quickly from ear to ear) but at the same time error correction (in conversation). Consider the use of discourse as a teaching method. (Errors can syntactic or semantic.)

Speech is more socialising than writing.


What is a road? What is the message of the road?

(speed, center-margin structures, disintegration and reprieve)

INVENTORY: a walk, a set of instructions (algorithm), a linear sequence (story, logic), an animal track or trail, the road to success, a neural network (strengthening and weakening links), a road map, a network (many connections and possible routes)

It was not until the advent of the telegraph that messages could travel faster than the messenger.

Think about the various visual methods for messaging (where the message travels at the speed of light): signal fires, smoke signals, semaphores, lighthouses. Drumming is another medium for sending messages... However, unless organised in a 'chain' the range of messaging is limited.

Each form of transport not only carries, but translates and transforms, the sender, the receiever and the message. The use of any kind of medium or extension of man alters the patterns of interdependence among people, as it alters the ratios among our senses.

Transport = Communication. Metaphor as a type of transport (transform).

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Last modified: 17/11/99; 10:23:47 CET