Why is this understanding of "the medium is the message" particularly useful? We tend to notice changes - even slight changes (that unfortunately we often tend to discount in significance.) "The medium is the message" tells us that noticing change in our societal or cultural ground conditions indicates the presence of a new message, that is, the effects of a new medium. With this early warning, we can set out to characterize and identify the new medium before it becomes obvious to everyone - a process that often takes years or even decades. And if we discover that the new medium brings along effects that might be detrimental to our society or culture, we have the opportunity to influence the development and evolution of the new innovation before the effects becomes pervasive. As McLuhan reminds us, "Control over change would seem to consist in moving not with it but ahead of it. Anticipation gives the power to deflect and control force." (McLuhan 199)
MH: Bob’s vision of a private, drug-focused library was appealing, and he convinced me to give it a shot. He went ahead and rented a one-room office at the intersection of Columbus and Stockton, and furnished it with a desk, chairs and bookshelves. To help pay the rent, we sublet space to the Church of the Tree of Life, one of the first psychedelic churches whose sacraments were mostly obscure psychoactive plants not yet declared illegal. Michael Aldrich, the first of cannabis history and folklore and an early marijuana reform activist who marketed the first hemp rolling papers, came aboard as curator a year later.
There have been many strong criticisms of McLuhan's writings since the 1960s until today. Firstly, it is important to note that McLuhan became rather famous in the 1960s and 70s after the publishing of Understanding Media. He was hailed in the popular US press as a new and important thinker and was interviewed in popular magazines. His key phrases such as "the global village" and "the medium is the message" were frequently used (although not always understood). But within academia (particularly critical theory and cultural studies), his work was met largely with criticism (although some scholars did admire his creativity and originality).