Re: Churchill quotation?

From: Bill Spight (
Date: Thu 31 Oct 2002 - 19:59:51 GMT

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    Dear Ray,

    > It's there. It appears that the original quote was "We shape our
    > buildings, and afterwards our buildings shape us." on October 28, 1943 at
    > a meeting in the House of Lords.
    Many thanks!

    I thought that searching for "build" would get "building" too, but not so. <sigh>

    > I wonder if he restated it at some
    > point or whether it has just become distorted over time.

    I expect that it has become distorted. That is what usually happens. :-)

    Changes in popular quotations would be a good memetics research project, I think. :-)


    1) "We make our tools and our tools make us"

    Joan Schwartz got it wrong, and so did I (I started the second clause with "then").

    > Kenneth Boulding once wrote, "We make our tools, and then they shape us." Stowe Boyd,

     ‘first we make our tools, then they make us’ quoted by Gordon A. Gow,

     "we shape our tools and they in turn shape us" (quoted in Griffin,
     1991, p. 294). Samuel Ebersole, The "Griffin" is Griffin, E. (1991). A first look at communication theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.

    also found at


    > We become what
    > we behold. We
    > shape our tools and
    > then our tools shape
    > us.
    > Marshall McLuhan

    Enough! I remembered hearing the quote on the record, "The Medium is the Massage", which I still have. McLuhan said, "We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us."

    It sounds like McLuhan ripped of Churchill. ;-)

    And the variations are of some interest. More later. I have lunch and chores.



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