The Shallows


Nicholas Carr

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Marshall McLuhan Character Analysis

Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian media critic renowned in the 60’s for his book, Understanding Media. Now a cultural relic, the point of Understanding Media is often boiled down to McLuhan’s famous phrase, “the medium is the message.” McLuhan believed that the content we absorb is lulling us into a state of complacence, and distracting people from the numbing effects of the medium itself. Though McLuhan’s unease was sparked by television, his viewpoint is highly relevant to Carr, both as a founding example of media criticism and for the ways that his theory applies to users of all sorts of media.

Marshall McLuhan Quotes in The Shallows

The The Shallows quotes below are all either spoken by Marshall McLuhan or refer to Marshall McLuhan. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
The History of Technology Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W. W. Norton and Company edition of The Shallows published in 2011.
Chapter 10 Quotes

When we extend some part of ourselves artificially, we also distance ourselves from the amplified part and its natural functions.

Related Characters: Marshall McLuhan
Page Number: 210
Explanation and Analysis:
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Marshall McLuhan Character Timeline in The Shallows

The timeline below shows where the character Marshall McLuhan appears in The Shallows. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The History of Technology Theme Icon
Distraction and Focus Theme Icon
Value, Depth, and Intelligence  Theme Icon
The prologue to The Shallows, titled “The Watchdog and the Thief,” quotes Marshall McLuhan’s iconic statement: “The medium is the message.” Far before the invention of the Web, McLuhan... (full context)
Chapter 3
The History of Technology Theme Icon
Scientific Context Theme Icon
...the whims of technology’s nearly autonomous progress. An extreme determinist mindset can be found in Marshall McCluhan , who wrote that humans were merely the “sex organs of the machine world,” existing... (full context)
Chapter 10
The History of Technology Theme Icon
Value, Depth, and Intelligence  Theme Icon
Scientific Context Theme Icon
...Indeed, cursive is disappearing from curriculums altogether. About this phenomenon of tools’ two-way effects, Marshall McLuhan wrote that our tools numb whatever part of the body they “amplify.” The numbing concept... (full context)