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The Medium is the Message

May 20, 2011

The Medium is the Message

I understand that there is some speculation and little evidence for where Marshall McLuhan first used this phrase. This will perhaps put that to rest.

Here, in Marshall’s own hand-written words, is the provenance, if not of when he came up with his best-known aphorism, at least of when he first spoke it in public.

The note is written alongside the title on page 350 of “From Source to Statement” by James M. McCrimmon [1968, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company] where ‘The Medium is the Message’ (chapter 1 of “Understanding Media) is reprinted.

“1st used this phrase in June (?) 1958 at Radio broadcasters conference in Vancouver. Was reassuring them that TV could not end radio”

And so the infamous Heritage Minute ad which shows an inspired Marshall saying ‘the medium is the message’ as if for the first time, in 1961, has it wrong.

There are many other notes in the book, but that one is the most striking – at least, to me.

Thanks for reading,


5 Comments leave one →
  1. Anna permalink
    May 20, 2011 12:29 pm

    Nice sleuthin’, Andrew!

  2. Alexander permalink
    November 14, 2011 2:32 am

    Thanks for this evidence and the great work you do!


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