Saturday, November 6, 2010

Professor McLuhan's World

Professor Marshall McLuhan (1911-1980)
To be fully aware of the media environment that saturates contemporary existence remains as important today as it was when Professor Marshall McLuhan wrote his infamous The Medium is the Massage nearly 50 years ago. He may have been thinking television, newspapers, radio and LP records but his ideas remain applicable to iPads, smart phones and Twitter. Students seem to feel powerless over how social networking sites like Facebook have come to replace face-to-face gatherings around the kitchen table and smart phones have become an extension of the nervous system. McLuhan famously wrote: "there is absolutely no inevitability as long as there is a willingness to contemplate what is happening. All media work us over completely. They are so pervasive in their personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences that they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered." His collaborations with book designers such as Quentin Fiore, appearances in mainstream TV talk shows and films such as Woody Allen's Annie Hall and use of the Columbia Records LPs as an "outlet" demonstrates his willingness to use media rather than be used. This morning wondering what he would Tweet and what he would say about our 140 character attention spans, the expanding global village and the power of the constructed self via the Facebook News Feed.

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