Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis
(Powerful Media)

Marshall McLuhan drew upon many of the ideas of Harold Innis.  Looking at Extended Interactionism (see Symbolic Interactionism), McLuhan was better at 'impression management'.  He was more widely accepted into popular culture, which was very evident in his appearance in a Woody Allen movie.

Their theories support the idea of a powerful media that is very influential.

Harold Innis:

"Imperial Communication"- the medium used = the range of the empire
    print (national level)    telegraph (international level)    Internet (global level)

"Bias of Communication"- the medium used biases what gets communicated

Marshall McLuhan:

1.  He said that technology is a biological extension of your senses (evolution).  Binoculars extend your eyes, cars extend your feet, etc.  He said that "we shape our tools, and they in turn shape us."  He "was influenced by the work of the Catholic philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who believed that the use of electricity extends the central nervous system" (Wolf, 1996, p. 125)

2.  He said that the medium massages your senses (radio massages ears, TV eyes / ears, etc.)  The medium is the message:  Really it's 'The medium is the massage', which supports his idea that different mediums massage different senses and the communication is therefore perceived differently.

"The medium is the message" was the popular phrase that caught on- the idea that the medium determines the message (communication -> environment -> pragmatics)


McLuhan divided media into 'hot' and 'cold' categories- hot was high definition / low involvement, and cold was low definition / high involvement (fill in the pieces)

Originally, McLuhan criticized media and advertizing for manipulating us, but later embraced new mediums as our natural evolution in communicating.

My paper on "The Video McLuhan"