Posted by: kristopherhouston | October 17, 2011

McLuhan’s Article = Cold Media

Out of this week’s assigned articles, I found McLuhan’s article on Understanding Media to be particularly frustrating. Before cruising into the negatives, I’d like to start out by saying that I agree with the McLuhan’s basic explanation of the concept of hot versus cold media. I liked his description of “censor” as a defense against “information overload,” and how a message through many forms of media and communication can have that strong an impact on a consumer that it would require an almost chemical defense. What I didn’t like was the shear volume of examples used to explain these concepts. Maybe it was the fact that this article was written 50 years ago, or that I over analyzed his descriptions of myth, references to the bible and overuse of the word “jazz,” but this article felt like a choppy and bizarre condensed media history that was either too complex or too simple to understand.
Regardless of how much or how little anyone gleaned from this article, I’m thinking that we are going to need a hot medium like “dialogue” during class tomorrow to make some sense of one of the most confusing, circular and cryptic articles every written.

Discussion Questions:
Are political campaign rituals like debates and television appearances still “hot media” or have consumers/Americans become too
“Censored” based on McLuhan’s description of the term to be influenced by these rituals?
Can anyone explain what McLuhan meant by exclusion and inclusion regarding hot and cold media?


  1. I have to admit, I agree with you that McLuhan’s writing style was a bit esoteric. Perhaps I just didn’t have enough of a foundation to follow along with all of his references. I did feel that my age was a hinderance, as most of the cultural references were waaayy before my time. But aside from that, I also felt that he skipped a few argumentative steps in most of his conclusions. I had to re-read every paragraph and work my way through how he drew his conclusions. Maybe he was trying to be an uber-cold source of media for us, insofar as he wanted the reader to participate and fill in the gaps. I liked some of his themes, but found his writing style to be distractingly difficult to follow.

  2. My main takeaway from “Media Hot or Cold” was that Marshall McLuhan is very, very impressed with Marshall McLuhan.

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