Foundations Of Cognitive Science

Hot Media

According to McLuhan’s theory of media (McLuhan, 1994), hot media are sources of information that are high definition, and which emphasize one sensory modality over all others.  As a result, they are rich sources of information, and do not engage its audience as a source of information.  That is, the audience conveys very little of the message when a medium is hot – the audience is a passive receiver of hot media.  There is no need for the audience to fill in missing information as active participants in message construction.  McLuhan was of the opinion that prototypical hot media were print and radio.  Hot media are consistent with the conduit metaphor of cognitive science (Reddy, 1979): they provide complete packages of information to the audience, which receives these packages and merely opens them up to understand them.


  1. McLuhan, M. (1994). Understanding Media: The Extensions Of Man (1st MIT Press ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  2. Reddy, M. J. (1979). The conduit metaphor -- A case of frame conflict in our language about language. In A. Ortony (Ed.), Metaphor And Thought (pp. 284-324). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

(Added November 2010)