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Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man : Critical Edition Hardcover – November 1, 2003


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Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man : Critical Edition + The Medium is the Massage + Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 500 pages
  • Publisher: Gingko Press; Critical edition (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1584230738
  • ISBN-13: 978-1584230731
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 5.4 x 1.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #77,959 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Marshall McLuhan is now a power in more than one land. --The New Statesman

His critics are infuriated by his ideas...but some think his foretell our real future. --Harper's

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5/5 - an absolute MUST READ!
James Bosilkovski
I for one have the old- fashioned sense of the superiority of the reading world to the television world- the superiority of the kind of minds it produces.
Shalom Freedman
The book is visual, short, and a fun challenge to read.
Constance Johnson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Nature Girl on April 5, 2008
Format: Hardcover
At 16 (1977) I discovered the original paperback Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man and it changed my world and the way I perceive every aspect of modern culture and technology forever. Throughout college, graduate school and a life of writing I have consistently supported my arguments and theories with ideas and quotes found within these pages. Fortunately I have not been alone, as entire branches of scientific inquiry, schools of academic thought, business models and technological breakthroughs can credit his lucid, vivid and coherent frameworks for their existence.

As an educator I endeavor to impart McLuhan's insights so that students might begin to see how profoundly every new technology changes their world.

This beautiful hardcover now sits at my side and includes historic details of McLuhan, the manuscript and its reception as well as valuable critical insights of W. Terence Gordon, an expert uniquely qualified to organize this edition.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Robert Dubose on March 22, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful edition. And the critical commentary by Terrence Gordon provides a helpful structure for getting your mind around McLuhan's ideas.

Although this may be McLuhan's great work, it is not best place to start. It is long and often incoherent. On page 39, McLuhan introduces a notoriously difficult metaphor that he uses through the book. It concerns hot and cool media. "Hot media are ... low in participation, and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience." So, he explains, hieroglyphics and photographs are hot, but the phonetic alphabet and cartoons are cool. Radio and movies are hot, but the TV and the telephone are cool.

Does that make any sense? If not, the better place to start is his earlier work, The Gutenberg Galaxy. It is shorter, and the logic is much easier to follow. It lays out the basis of McLuhan's thinking about how changes in media reshape culture. If you are a systematic thinker like me, it is a far better book to get the basics of McLuhan's analytical method and ideas.

Even if you have the basics, UM is a dense, inspiring, and unsettling work. In each of the 33 chapters, McLuhan makes connections that change the way I think about culture. But just as often, he makes some nonsensical analogy or leap of logic and then fails to explain it.

In the end, it helps to stop trying to understand UM and let it inspire you to think.

In other words, it is very cool.
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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on October 16, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the rare works which seem to explain new realities in a way which no one else before has grasped. It is the kind of work that gives a ' whole new picture of what is happening'. And if for this alone this work would be of great value.

I am by no means a media expert and cannot really comment on many of the claims of the work .

Its virtues are in calling attention to the new media( mainly television) and understanding how it changed our perception of the world, and of ourselves.

The basic MacLuhan distinction between hot and cold media between those which give us a lot of information and those which require our own greater participation in creating the reality , seems to me sensible to a degree. But where MacLuhan lost me was in his celebration of the present reality, the new culture.

I for one have the old- fashioned sense of the superiority of the reading world to the television world- the superiority of the kind of minds it produces.

I too think MacLuhan was over- optimistic in seeing the ' global village' as a kind of positive development for mankind. The fact is our world today is tremendously complex politically, fragmented in not necessarily wonderful ways.

It is possible to argue that this work ' foresaw ' the Internet, but even if this were the case it seems to me that we still have to consider the overall question of the meaning, value and virtue of the Internet.

Mankind's situation I want to suggest is much much more complex than ' the media is the message' in the ' global village' suggests.

I do not again think I have even begun to do justice to the richness and variety of MacLuhan's insights.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the famous book so often referred to by a multitude of intellectuals who have never, well, actually read it! While I found the precursor to this book, "The Gutenberg Galaxy" to be more fascinating (and scholarly), Understanding Media is a must read for those seeking insight into the evolution of human concsiousness and perception. Communications majors need not apply, since the book has little to do with "media" as it is defined today.

Marx thought that how production was organized (and changed over time) drove a society's social and political structures (and ultimately its citizens' psyches); McCluhan argues (in excruciating and exacting detail) that the FORM of the "extensions of man", AKA the man made world-- the wheel, clothes, the phonetic alphabet and linear printing, radio, TV, etc, AKA technology, have had profound psycho-social impacts throughout human history, driven by invention and innovation. E.g., no Gutenberg, no Renaissance and European nationalism.

Just a taste, much much more is in the book!
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