A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

Speed up or slow down

Marshall (August 1948, age 37).  Speed up or slow down

I’ve noticed that people today read at only one pace.  Whatever that pace is, usually it’s the one you see people reading novels at the beach, they expect that every book can be read at that pace.  This is crazy and yet it is the fundamental unexamined assumption of all of our ‘best’ literary critics.  The fact is that some books (such as E. Pound’s) can only be read slowly and some (such as A. Christie’s) can be read extremely fast.   

Me (October 2009, age 57).  Business books are best read fast

Most business books if they are to be read at all, and a great many need not be read, can be read very fastTo read a business book slowly is to pay it an undeserved compliment.  That there are ideas there it will take deep thought to unlock.  There is a lot of jargon, metaphor and euphemism that can slow you down – but as Micklethwait and Wooldridge say in The Witch Doctors, “Dig into virtually any area of management theory and you will find, eventually, a coherent position of sorts.  The problem is that in order to extract the nugget you have to dig through an enormous amount of waffle.”

Which is why you need to read them fast.

How fast do you read business books?  

Cordially, Marshall and Me

P.S.  See you here next Tuesday       


The Letters of Marshall McLuhan.  Selected and edited by Matie Molinaro, Corinne McLuhan, and William Toye. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1987, p. 200.

John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.  The Witch Doctors:  Making Sense of the Management Gurus, New York: Times Books, 1997,  p. 19.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, October 3rd, 2009
Permalink 1930s and 40s, Business, Communication, Education, Management, Vol. 1 No Comments

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