When you move at the speed of light on the telephone, you do not have a private identity. And when you don’t have a private identity—or rather, when you don’t have a body—you don’t relate to natural law. Gravity has no control over you at the speed of light. You’re suddenly outside of the natural scheme of things. You’re a super-man. This does all sorts of things to the human psychology. Completely transforms people.
from On Nature and Media: A Dialogue of Effects (1978)
Herbert Marshall McLuhan CC was a Canadian professor, philosopher, and public intellectual. His work is one of the cornerstones of the study of media theory. Born in Edmonton, Alberta, McLuhan studied at the University of Manitoba and the University of Cambridge. He began his teaching career as a professor of English at several universities in the U.S. and Canada before moving to the University of Toronto in 1946, where he remained for the rest of his life.
McLuhan is known for coining the expression “the medium is the message” and the term “global village,” and for predicting the World Wide Web almost 30 years before it was invented. He was a fixture in media discourse in the late 1960s, though his influence began to wane in the early 1970s. In the years after his death, he continued to be a controversial figure in academic circles. With the arrival of the Internet and the World Wide Web interest was renewed in his work and perspective.
July 17, 1978
Marshall McLuhan explains the effects of accelerating communication speeds on human society.
≈ 41 minutes
The Medium is the Massage is Marshall McLuhan’s prophetic perception on life in the age of electronic information, exhibiting his understanding of the power of media long before those in control did. The Medium is the Massage presents some of McLuhan’s most amazing insights and cognitive observations on the global village: the rear-view mirror, the invisible environment, the end of nature, and sensory impact set against the everyday imagery of mass media, consumer goods, the press, advertising, and the arts. Although originally printed in 1967, the art and style in The Medium is the Massage seem as fresh today as in the summer of love, and the ideas are even more resonant now that computer interfaces are becoming gateways to the global village.