Assignment #2 Katherine Yi Team 6

Thesis: In McLuhan’s interview he uses critical perspective to prove that medium is the message.

McLuhan quotes “McLuhan contends that all media—in and of themselves and regardless of the messages they communicate—exert a compelling influence on man and society.” This is a quote from the interviewer, Phillip Rogaway. Careless oversight – it would have been odd for McLuhan to refer to himself in the third-person. is whole idea is that media influences all of society today, and that is true. However, the way we receive the information is more important than the information itself, and this is where his famous quote comes from, “Medium is the message.”

McLuhan questioned commonly held assumptions when the in regards to the introduction of the phonetic alphabet was created. However, he questioned it In what way did he ‘question’ the phonetic alphabet? Awkward writing. and states that it was not progress, but a psychic and social disaster. McLuhan stresses that the phonetic alphabet was a mistake and a disaster; he then explains how the alphabet was a mistake. “It try to avoid value judgments in these areas, but there is much evidence to suggest that man may have paid too dear a price for his new environment of specialist technology and values. Schizophrenia and alienation may be the inevitable consequences of phonetic literacy.” This is to misunderstand the nuance of McLuhan’s argument. He didn’t judge the alphabet as a mistake per se, just argued that it completely transformed culture and society. He called this both progress and and a disaster, not just an unmitigated fiasco. The quote you cite comes from his examples of the consequences of literate society.  He states that there is evidence that man may have done too much to change for a new environment. Not clear what this means.

McLuhan does aim for the betterment of society; an example is when he mentions the current education system as “It’s a dying and outdated system founded on literate values and fragmented and classified data totally unsuited to the needs of the first television generation.” He then explains the ways on how we can fix it, but first we would have to acknowledge that we’ve been doing everything the wrong way. Then we can truly examine what is wrong with our education system and how we can improve on it. Then change the next generation of how they think and consume media.

“Why are you attempting to dispel it and alert man to the changes in his environment?” quoted by the interviewer. “I believe that our survival, and at the very least our comfort and happiness, is predicated on understanding the nature of our new environment, because unlike previous environmental changes, the electric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes” said McLuhan. This is an example when McLuhan expands the bounds of debate. He wants us to become self-aware of our environment and the changes that are happening, and if not, we’ll become “self-induced” slaves. He wants people to understand the transformation of the media, so we can anticipate and control it. Instead of getting caught up and not doing anything with the media’s information. This is also an example of him explaining “medium is the message”. How? Don’t really see the connection here.

McLuhan uses critical perspective in his thinking by using the characteristics mentioned before. He questions commonly held assumptions, expands the bounds of debate and aim for the betterment of society. He does all these things to prove he uses critical perspective.

Analysis is decent overall, but there is very little analysis of ‘the medium is the message’ as is asked by the assignment. It’s only ever mentioned in passing in the first and second-to-last paragraph.


Krystal Montoya Team 17

Well-written Krystal. Clear and concise sentence structure and word choice. Your understanding of the material comes through in your post and you successfully analyzed the readings well.

Good job!


Thesis: Marshall McLuhan utilizes the critical perspective to detail his idea of the medium is the message.

Marshall McLuhan’s idea of the medium is the message was something that was unheard of during his time. No one had thought that the medium could be more important to understanding the message than the actual message itself. McLuhan believed the medium allowed the readers to understand the message more because it facilitates the audience’s own impression of the message. McLuhan specifically used the critical perspective because it changed the way communicators affect culture and create a social change. McLuhan believed that we constantly miss information from the message; however, interpreting the way it is received and stated allows to understand the majority of the message; more so, than simply listening to the message as is.   

McLuhan describes two different types of messages and how they facilitate audience interaction or lack thereof. Audiences are looking to find their identity within the message and the medium is the best way to look through it. He provided his followers, who had believed that the message was the most important way to communicate, a different perspective which could provide them a completely different interpretation to the message. With these new perspectives, they are able to question commonly held assumptions, especially on interpretation of the message. It allows them to have an opinion for themselves, something that was beginning to become popularized in the years prior to and leading up to McLuhan’s time. We are constantly seeing instances in the news of people revolting against ideals that are being spread and this is largely due to the fact that they look deeper into the medium than simply looking at the message.

McLuhan expanded the bounds of debate because it allowed his audience to think differently to the established ideals from that time. Technology has provided us with a different way to interpret information and a different perspective. This encourages people to look beyond the norm. An example of the medium is the message in action is social media and the numerous revolutions that have occurred because of it. Social media has provided people with a platform of comfort to present conflicting ideas with a sense of anonymity and a way to reach a global audience. People are more willing to debate and challenge already-established regime. Similarly, McLuhan states that understanding the medium can help with anticipating any revolutionary action that may occur; therefore, controlling and preventing it.

McLuhan’s ideas were aimed to allow people to think for themselves, allowing them to take action and make a change in society. Many people just sit back and take the message without looking deeper into it. The different mediums that we have elicit different reactions from people. As previously stated, there are two types of mediums: hot and cold. Hot mediums require low participation from the audience; whereas, cold mediums elicit high participation from the audience. More participation and further understanding from the audience allows them to make a change when they view things as unjust. McLuhan is promoting that to his audience in hopes of them making a change for themselves and those around.

Assignment #2 – Julia Thomas Team 17

Hi Julia,

I would suggest that your try writing more simply and clearly. Much of what you write I kind of vaguely understand but often it is a bit muddled. I would suggest going to the Writing Center for help and I can work with you as well. Read NYT carefully and see how sentences are constructed and word choice is specific.  You will improve!


“Medium is the message.” A simple, yet complex phrase Marshall McLuhan uses to expresses his idea of media using critical perspective.

Marshall McLuhan, a considerable communication theorist whose ideas were unorthodox to in his era, but now, is an referred?(I am not certain what you mean by this word, I’d remove it) icon to many media and communication studies scholars. McLuhan`s idea – the way we receive information is more important than the actual message, has transformed the way many generations perceive media. (many generations?) (not all media have been around for many generations)

Contrary to popular beliefs during McLuhan’s lifetime, his idea is that mediums have a significance importance to the culture of society. From being people who consumed information from newspapers and television, we are now people who produce content. In the article, “Marshall McLuhan: a Candid Conversation”, McLuhan states, “[e]lectric media constitute a total and near-instantaneous transformation of culture, values and attitudes.” The rise of newer technology like social media, has impacted the way ideas and thoughts are communicated and delivered. Global events like the 2016, United States Presidential Election is a prominent example of how social media revolutionized the way society received information about both candidates. Hashtags like, “makeamericagreatagain”, “trumpforpresident”, and “imwithher” could possibly conclude how American citizens perceived information about both candidates to then alter their votes on who they elected. This form of communication has now affected the overall culture of America we see today.  

McLuhan`s radical theory opens the bounds of debate by massive attraction in the form of culture.  In the interview with Playboy, McLuhan addresses the question of the ancient world and how their language was their form of medium. McLuhan depicts the fundamentals of how cultures like Babylonians communicated with sensory details to paint a picture, while the Pphonetic alphabet changed how sensory  was perceived through language.  This means, overtime people began to lose focus on the medium itself and focused rather on the message when the phonetic alphabet was introduced. This phenomenon has now affected the way people interact with each other because the way information is now received in a drastically changed format of technology.

McLuhan`s aim for betterment of society was understood when he mentioned the educational system. McLuhan makes the allusion to Thomas Jefferson on how “least education is the best education.” Not condescending the idea of education, but rather how children were taught. McLuhan reasoned that the old method of teaching was to too analytical and needed to be, “fresh with new techniques and values.” This may be the reason why today we see programs like STEM and educational reforms.

Before McLuhan was introduced to new technology like social media his theories of an intercommunication society where the medium has more of an importance that impacts society has a whole has now become a reality. (Social media is not a technology) (this sentence is awkward and I’m not sure what you are trying to say. I suggest you write shorter more succinct sentences with one thought at a time. McLuhan’s theories of communication where the medium has more importance than the message has impacted society.  Then explain how?

Assignment 2: Playboy Interview

    Please put name and team number on all your posts. Your essay feels disjointed and the format is unusual. For example, The words ‘His response: ‘ should not be part of your post. I don’t see much in the way of analysis and only some fragments of a summary. I would suggest going to the Writing Center for assistance and also I would suggest reading the NYT or other periodicals so that you can more fully understand writing style. I’d be happy to work with you as well, email me in advance and we can meet if you like.

Marshall McLuhan is famously known for the saying “the median is the message”, apart from publishing numerous books. McLuhan contends that all media regardless of the messages they communicate and exerts , exert a compelling influence on man and society. McLuhan defines media as “the extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment.”

     In his Interview with Playboy, Marshall McLuhan furthers explains the content or message of any particular medium and how it has about as much importance as the stenciling on the casing of an “atomic bomb”. In other words, he begins to explain how the media and its personal influence is a super powerful effect in today’s society. Effective study of the media deals not only with the content of the media but with the media themselves and the total cultural environment within which the media function.

Furthermore, McLuhan is asked if the public is beginning to perceive the “invisible” contours new technological environments?

His response:

“People are beginning to understand the nature of their new technology, but not yet nearly enough of them — and not nearly well enough. Most people, as I indicated, still cling to what I call the rearview-mirror rear view mirror  view of their world. By this I mean to say that because of the invisibility of any environment during the period of its innovation, man is only consciously aware of the environment that has preceded it; in other words, an environment becomes fully visible only when it has been superseded by a new environment; thus we are always one step behind in our view of the world. “  (is this entire paragraph a quote, you use “I” in the first line, is that you? )

     In understanding McLuhan and his interpretation, he’s referring to the new technologies that are being introduced and the new sources of communications that will begin to impact people. In today’s world, when we turn on the news channel or the radio the majority of the time it’s unfortunate events happening in the world and rarely do you hear anything positive. He emphasizes that the environment is being introduced to a new era of negativity spread from media outlets.

     If we understand the revolutionary transformations caused by new media, we can anticipate and control them; but if we continue in our self-induced sub consciousness, (this is one word) we will become their slaves.

He then wraps up the interview by referring back to “the median is the message not the content, and unaware that the medium is also the massage — that, all puns aside, it literally works over and saturates and molds and transforms every sense ratio.”

Colin Miller Team 15- Critical Perspective

Good writing style Colin. You make some excellent points, however your thesis is not a true thesis so you might want to review that. You use quotes directly from McLuhan, which is okay, but I would have liked to see more overall analysis of his points. Otherwise, good job.

Thesis: Professor Marshall McLuhan used critical perspective in his thinking for arguably his most famous expression, “the medium is the message.”

An aspect of the critical perspective that McLuhan utilizes in his thinking is that he questions commonly held assumptions. According to his interview in Playboy, he states that people are oblivious of the effect (positive or negative) of technology on them, saying, “most people, from truck drivers to the literary Brahmins, are still blissfully ignorant of what the media do to them.” He goes on to explain how because of this, the medium is not only the message, but also “literally works over and saturates and molds and transforms every sense ratio.” McLuhan basically states that contrary to public perception, the medium, not the content, is the message that reaches people.

Another way that McLuhan incorporates the critical perspective is that he expands the bounds of debate in his thinking. He sums up how open-minded his thinking is in his very first response in the Playboy interview, saying, “my purpose is to employ facts as tentative probes, as means of insight, of pattern recognition, rather than to use them in the traditional and sterile sense of classified data, categories, containers. I want to map new terrain rather than chart old landmarks.” He is demonstrating that he doesn’t have a solid point of view and is willing to listen to anyone whose views differ or contribute something different. When asked if this methodology is a tad eccentric, he just as openly responds, “Any approach to environmental problems must be sufficiently flexible and adaptable to encompass the entire environmental matrix.”

Aiming for the betterment of society is another way in which Marshall McLuhan incorporates critical perspective in his thinking of “the medium is the message.” Towards the end of the interview, McLuhan is asked whether or not he feels optimistic about the future with electric technology. McLuhan says “There are grounds for both optimism and pessimism. The extensions of man’s consciousness induced by the electric media could conceivably usher in the millennium, but it all holds the potential for realizing the Anti-Christ,”. In this part of the interview, McLuhan warily has hope for this technology-dependent future so long as we take the time to understand how it influences us. However, he says it is up to society itself, stating, “it is how we perceive them and react to them that will determine their ultimate psychic and social consequences.”

Marshall McLuhan’s most famous expression of thought is arguably “The medium is the message.” The thought behind this one phrase alone managed to incorporate all of the attributes of the critical perspective. It was his belief that we need have an understanding of our new technology-filled environment. With that technology, he realized that culture and even values could change drastically. Hence the reason why the medium, not so much the content within it, is the message.

Natalie Orta, Assignment 2, Team 2

Natalie – Your writing is excellent. Well edited and concise. However, your analysis could have gone deeper into McLuhan’s use of the critical perspective.You have a good handle on McLuhan’s questioning commonly held assumptions. The betterment of society was only briefly mentioned, and your short paragraph on expanding the bounds of debate sounds a lot like challenging assumptions.

A better example might be his inclusion of the perspective of children in the debate over the problem of modern education. Rather than blaming children for doing poorly in schools (Why Johnny Can’t Read was a famous book of the time), McLuhan argued that the system of education was the problem. The perspective of children, that school was not “relevant” to their lives, had been ignored. He expanded the bounds of debate by including and legitimizing the perspective of a group of people that had been given consideration.

Thesis statement: McLuhan uses the critical perspective by questioning commonly held assumptions, expanding the bounds of debate, and aiming for the betterment of society. 
McLuhan questions commonly held assumptions by bringing up what people believe to be truths. He does this by contending that, “all media – in and of themselves and regardless of the messages they communicate – exert a compelling influence on man and society.” This is something that to this day continues to question the commonly held assumptions we all have. It shows how ahead of his time he really was. His viewpoint of technological advances and where they were and where they would show that people weren’t, and still don’t, pay enough attention to what they should be focusing on; in this case being that the fact that you can watch the local news live from nearly anywhere is much more important than what the news is, for example. He unquestionably makes sure to question what we know by shifting our focus to how we know it. 

McLuhan expands the bounds of debate by calling into question what we believe. The proof of his writing can be seen in his example of the printing press. People were so enamored by the idea that they could now read books they would have otherwise never been able to see and skimmed over the fact that there was now a machine that allowed this in the first place. 

McLuhan sets out to improve society by helping us see how important our surroundings are. We are living in an era of information overload, McLuhan’s ideology has us pay more attention to the things we use every day. He aims for us to improve ourselves and in turn our society by having us put our heads above the water to see more than that we’re so accustomed to. 


Josmery- Overall, a good essay. You paid careful attention to the sources and have a strong grasp of McLuhan’s arguments (with one exception; see below), Your writing has rhythm and a good flow. Sometimes short sentences are useful (see example below). A more detailed analysis would have made stronger connections between critical perspective and McLuhan.

          Having a critical perspective means to be able to compare and discuss different attitudes and interpretations towards a specific subject. In this case, it is used to understand how communication shapes and affects culture. The first thing to evaluate here is McLuhan’s theory of “the medium is the message.” According to McLuhan what counts is what the medium does to us and with us. “A vital point I must stress again is that societies have always been shaped more by the nature of the media with which men communicate than by the content of the communication.” 

 McLuhan definitely used critical perspective along his in thinking. He had a clear vision of the power of media and its implications; Thus, he was intending to create awareness among men and women of the impact this could have over the culture of society.
Two sentences here.

He had a clear vision of the power of media and its implications. McLuhan aimed to create awareness of the impact media has on the culture of a society.

“All media, from the phonetic alphabet to the computer, are extensions of man that cause deep and lasting changes in him and transform his environment.”      

              McLuhan attributes the beginning of the new era of electric media to Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press. Actually, Gutenberg’s printing press is a mechanization and extension of the phonetic alphabet. Electric media spells its doom. With the distribution of books around Europe in the 16thcentury, mass media turned the vernacular language into one uniform language system. The uniformity of money, market and transport also became possible for the first time, creating then economic and political unity, giving place to a network of states. Media print contributed to the creation of a new society by shaping, among other things, education. This allowed men to be more aware of their potential, and to be able to communicate better to work together and create an improved nation for everyone.    Good summation of the impact of the printing press. But how does this figure in McLuhan’s use of critical perspective?

                He expands the bounds of debate when taking us back and forth comparing the tribal man with his literate successor. He states that the tribal man lived in a world of “acoustic space” where all the senses where playing simultaneously, preventing him from being more rational, logical, individualistic, explicit, specialized and detached as the literate man. In contrast, the tribal man was unconscious, lived in a world patterned by myth and ritual, of values divine and unchallenged. But exactly how does he expand the bounds of debate? Perhaps by questioning the “evolution” of modern man, as somehow superior to his tribal ancestors?

               And certainly, McLuhan aimed for the betterment of society. A quintessential example is the next quote; “Computer technology can—and doubtless will—program entire environments to fulfill the social needs and sensory preferences of communities and nations. The content of that programing, however, depends on the nature of future societies—but that is in our own hands”. He envisioned the magnificence of electric media. Most of his predictions came true in the new technological era; Thus, will electoral elections get come to an end? Or will automobiles get be obsolete? And what about the disappearance of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles…  Those comments got me googling. 

                 It’s evident that McLuhan demonstrated to be was a critical thinker who understood, and tried to trace the magnitude of media and the impact of it on man. “The transformations are taking place everywhere around us.” He saw what others couldn’t see until the imminence of the changes.