I STUMBLED ON A COPY OF “THE MEDIUM IS THE MASSAGE” at the library this weekend, a 1996 reprint faithful to the stark and brilliant design of the 1967 original. As pervasive as the central idea now seems—that our information environment shapes thought, society and responsibility—there’s an unexpected freshness to the book (and it’s not just the crocheted tights everyone’s wearing).
Quite obviously, you hear its echo—if not its clarity—in every discussion of the web and social media. Those of us who straddle the 20th and 21st centuries like to reflect on our supreme cultural moment, celebrating the total erasure of old rules and means (today’s marketing book shelf alone has more “revolutions” than all of human history before 1901).
So it’s reassuring to read a dusty old pamphlet that waxes triumphant about the irrevocable changes wrought by technology and the unimaginable consequences. And to see that worldview perfectly intact 40 years on.