Categories
Business Communication Ling- English

The medium is the massage – yes, you read correctly!

From the McLuhan website (in reference to an earlier post):

Actually, the title was a mistake. When the book came back from the typesetter’s, it had on the cover “Massage” as it still does. The title was supposed to have read “The Medium is the Message” but the typesetter had made an error. When Marshall saw the typo he exclaimed, “Leave it alone! It’s great, and right on target!”

Now there are four possible readings for the last word of the title, all of them accurate: “Message” and “Mess Age,” “Massage” and “Mass Age.”

Categories
Business Communication

The medium is the message

During last Thursday’s discussion I brought up Marshall McLuhan‘s famous quote (“the medium is the message”). Here is the explanation in the author’s own words:

Each medium, independent of the content it mediates, has its own intrinsic effects which are its unique message.

The message of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. The railway did not introduce movement or transportation or wheel or road into human society, but it accelerated and enlarged the scale of previous human functions, creating totally new kinds of cities and new kinds of work and leisure. This happened whether the railway functioned in a tropical or northern environment, and is quite independent of the freight or content of the railway medium. (Understanding Media, NY, 1964, p. 8)

He also wrote the following in Understanding the Media, decades before the World Wide Web became a popular, well, medium:

“By putting our physical bodies inside our extended nervous systems, by means of electric media, we set up a dynamic by which all previous technologies that are mere extensions of hands and feet and teeth, will be translated into information systems. Electromagnetic technology requires utter human docility and quiescence of meditation such as befits an organism that now wears its brain outside its skull and its nerves outside its hide. We must serve our electric technology with the same servo-mechanistic fidelity with which we once served our coracle, our canoe, our typography, and all other extensions of our physical organs. But, there is a difference here. Those previous technologies were partial and fragmentary. The electric is total and inclusive. An external consensus or conscience is now as necessary as private consciousness. With the new media, however, it is now possible to store and to translate everything; and as for speed, that is no problem. No further acceleration is possible this side of the light barrier.”

The website run by his estate is here.

Full disclosure: He is Canadian.

Categories
Business Communication

Life after e-mail

Last Thursday we discussed the challenges of not letting e-mail take over your schedule and your life.

Lisa Haneberg’s post brought to my attention

these two posts from David Lorenzo. In post 1, called Making the Most out of E-Mail, he shares some new habits he is going to try to reduce the time he spends on e-mail and improve his focus. In the second post, E-mail Maximization Day 1, David tells you how day 1 went.

David’s posts offer practical suggestions to break free from e-mail tyranny, not unlike the ones that we shared in our discussion… except that his are written in a tongue-in-cheek tone.

JK Galbraith on the art of good writing

One extraordinary part of good writing is to avoid excess, which many writers do not understand.

The next thing, which of course is obvious, is to be aware of the music, the symphony of words, and to make written expression acceptable to the ear. How successfully and how one does that, I don’t know. But certainly it is something that has always been a concern of mine. I worked on it very hard in one of my first widely read books, The Great Crash of 1929, and I was enormously pleased when it was so reviewed. The Great Crash is an ambiguous title, I must say, one should always watch titles. I saw this many times. I looked once to see if a copy was in the LaGuardia Airport bookstore in New York and the lady there said, “That’s not a title you could sell in an airport.

The third thing is never to assume that your first draft is right. The first draft, when you’re writing, involves the terrible problem of thought combined with the terrible problem of composition. And it is only in the second and third and fourth drafts that you really escape that original pain and have the opportunity to get it right. Again, I’m repeating myself; I’ve said many times that I do not put that note of spontaneity that my critics like into anything but the fifth draft. It may have a slightly artificial sound as a consequence of that.

The final thing, in economics, is to have one great truth always in mind. That is, that there are no propositions in economics that can’t be stated in clear, plain language. There just aren’t.

The above is an excerpt [paragraph breaks are mine]. The full interview is here. From the Concise Encyclopedia of Economics:

John Kenneth Galbraith is one of the most widely read economists in the United States. One reason is that he writes so well.

 

Categories
Business Communication

Speaking is NOT writing

Language has its own structure (not unchanging, to be sure, but fixed enough at any one moment to serve as both a constraint and a resource). If you do not submit yourself to the conventional meanings of words and to the grammatical forms that specify the relationships between the objects words refer to, the prose you produce will say something — language, not you or I, means — but it will not say what you wanted to say. That’s only because your readers will not be inside your head where they might ask the self-seeking expression what it had in mind, but will instead be on the outside processing the formal patterns of your written language and reaching the conclusions dictated and generated by those patterns.

In fact, however, what I’ve just said is a bit misleading because it suggests that fully formed thoughts exist in some inner mental space and manage to make it into the outside world when they are clothed in the proper syntactical and lexical forms. But as everyone used to know before the cult of self-expression triumphed, the ability even to have certain kinds of thoughts depends on the prior ability to produce (and comprehend) certain kinds of sentences.

Categories
Business Communication Ling- English

Warren Buffett — folksy style, brainy investing

Here is a good short introduction to the Oracle of Omaha. Folksy and brainy has earned him a tangible net worth of over $40 billion, most of which he has just given away to charity.

Buffett’s annual letters to shareholders are priceless.

Categories
Ling- English Managing oneself Managing your career Work and the workplace

Tom Peters on the brand called you

Tom Peters in his usual enthusiasm:

Big companies understand the importance of brands. Today, in the Age of the Individual, you have to be your own brand. Here’s what it takes to be the CEO of Me Inc.

From a classic article from 1997 that Seth Godin has picked up here.