Marshall McLuhan? Ashley Montagu? Edmund Carpenter? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: Canadian communications theorist Marshall McLuhan contemplated the influences of different types of media on human thought and behavior. He said that television was a cool medium because it was high in participation, whereas radio was a hot medium with low participation. He formulated the adage:
The medium is the message.
Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: The earliest match known to QI appeared in a conference titled “Radio in the Future of Canada” held in Vancouver, Canada in May 1958. Marshall McLuhan’s speech contained two versions of the saying. The first instance used the plural words “media” and “messages”. Boldface added to excerpts by QI:1958, Radio in the Future of Canada: A National Conference, Held in Vancouver, Canada on May 5 to 9, 1958, Article: Introduction of Professor Marshall McLuhan, Start Page 4, Quote Pages 4 and 6, … Continue reading
The media are the messages, they are not conveyor belts of messages. In the long run it is radio that is the message, and not what a radio program content happens to be at any given day, or year. In the long run, it is photography that is the meaning and the message, not the picture of somebody or something.
The second instance of the saying in McLuhan’s’ speech matched the popular version of the expression:
Print, by permitting people to read at high speed and, above all, to read alone and silently, developed a totally new set of mental operations. What I mentioned earlier becomes very relevant here: the medium is the message. The medium of print is the message, more than any individual writer could say.
Thanks to Andrew McLuhan, the grandson of Marshall McLuhan, who told QI about the citation presented above.
Below are additional selected citations in chronological order.
|↑1||1958, Radio in the Future of Canada: A National Conference, Held in Vancouver, Canada on May 5 to 9, 1958, Article: Introduction of Professor Marshall McLuhan, Start Page 4, Quote Pages 4 and 6, Sponsored by: British Columbia Association of Broadcasters and the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Verified with scans from University of British Columbia Library, Rare Books & Special Collections)|