Understanding Media : Marshall McLuhan


Understanding Media : Marshall McLuhan

Media Hot and Cold
There is a basic principle that distinguishes a hot medium like radio form a cool one like the telephone.
quantity of information is a decisive aspect.
Hot media do not leave so much to be filled in or completed by the audience. Hot media are, therefore, low in participation, and cool media are high in participation or completion by the audience.
Hot and explosive.
COol and implosive.
Any hot medium allows of less participation than a cool one. the hot form excludes, and the cool one includes. p.23.

Specialist technologies detribalize. The nonspecialist electric technology rebribalizes.

The new electric structuring and configuring of life more and more encounters the old lineal and fragmentary procedures and tools of analysis from the mechanical age. More and more we turn from the content fo messages to study total effect. Concern with effect rather than meaning is a basic change of our electric time.



Movies assume a high level of literacy in their users and prove baffling to the nonliterate. p.285.
Film has the power to store and to convey a great deal of information. p.288.
The movie is not only a supreme expression of mechanism, but paradoxically it offers as product the most magical of consumer commodities, namely dreams.

At the present time, film is till in its manuscript phase, as it were; shortly it will, under TV pressure, go into its portable, accessible, printed-book phase. Soon everyone will be able to have a small, inespensive film projector that plays an 8mm…
This type of development is part of our present technological explosion. The present dissociation of projector and screen is a vestige of our older mechanical world of explosion and separation of functions that is now ending with the electrical implosion.
즉 그 당시 프로젝터와 스크린의 분열 상태가 이전의 explosive한 매체와 기능을 다 분리하던 시대의 잔존인 것이라고 보고 있다. 그리고 이와 같은 분열은 전기시대에 와서 사라질 것이라고 본다. 예견.

Electricity has brought back the cool, mosaic world of implosion, equilibrium, and stasis. …



Prints asks for the isolated and stripped down visual faculty, not for the unified sensorium.
TV is a medium that rejects the sharp personality and favors the presentation of processes rather than product.

Namely that TV is a cool, participant medium. RAido is a hot medium. When given additional intensity, it performs better. It doesn’t invite the same degree of participation in its users. RAdio will serve as background-sound or noise-level control… TV will not work as background. It engages you. You have to be with it.

The cool TV medium promotes depth structure in art and entertainment alike, and creates audience involvement in depth as well. .. The mode of TV image has nothing in common with film or photo, except that it offers also a nonverbal gestalt or posture of forms.
The TV image is visually low in data.
The film image offers more millions of date per second, and the viewer does not have to make the same drastic reduction of items to form his impression.

맥루한은 TV mosaic이라고 부른다.

The TV image is now a mosaic mesh of light and dark spots which a movie shot never is, even when the quality of the movie image is very poor.

To contrast it with the film shot, many directors refer to the TV image as one of low definition, in the sense that is offers little detail and a low degree of information, much like the cartoon.

The effect of TV, as the most recent and spectacular electric extension of our central nervous system, is hard to grasp of various reasons. Since it has affected the totality of our lives, personal and social and political.
The TV image is of low intensity or definition, and, therefore, unlike him, it does not afford detailed information about objects.

in collective matters of media and technology, where the individual is almost inevitably unaware of their effect upon them.

A cool medium, whether the spoken work or the manuscript or TV, leaves much more for the listener or user to do than a hot medium. If the medium is of high definition, participation is low. If the medium is of low intensity, the participation is high. … because the low definition of TV insures a high degree of audience involvement, the most effective programs are those that present situations which consist of some process to be completed.

Instead of the voting bloc, we have the icon, the inclusive image. Instead of a political viewpoint or platfomr, the inclusive political posture or stance. Instead of product, the process.


movie : hot / explosive / product / less participation
TV : cool / implosive / process / active participation


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