A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan continues. If he had lived Marshall would have been 100 on July 21, 2011. Join me in the countdown to his centennial, and an exploration of more of his observations on the way media work in the electric age in which we live.

Business

The CEO in the electronic age

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59).  The higher you go the less of you there is.    

“As any executive climbs up the echelons of the organization chart, his involvement in the organization becomes less and less.  At the top he is a dropout … .”

 

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Which would seem to present a problem.

But then, perhaps not, according to this expert:

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Culture Is Our Business, 1970, p. 30.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, February 26th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Management No Comments

TV demands casualness.

Marshall McLuhan (October 29, 1960, age 49).  It’s a cool medium.

“The forms of entertainment that work best on television, whether it’s Paddy Chayefsky or even the Parr Show, are ones which admit of a great deal of casualness, in which people can be introduced and dialogued with in the presence of the camera at all sorts of levels of their lives.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Paddy Chayefsky in dialogue.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=woV72Ceag8M

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “The Communications Revolution,” panel discussion at Third Annual Conference on the Humanities, Ohio State University Graduate School, October 29, 1960, in Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 41.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, February 19th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Technology 1 Comment

Products are becoming services.

Marshall McLuhan (May 8, 1967, age 55).  For example …

“Instead of going out and buying a packaged book of which there have been five thousand copies printed, you will go to the telephone, describe your interests, your needs, your problems … and they at once Xerox with the help of computers from libraries all over the world, all the latest material for you personally, not as something to be put out on a bookshelf.  They send you the package as a direct personal service.  This is where we’re heading under electronic conditions.  Products increasingly are becoming services.”

Me (February, 2011, age 58).  Sound familiar?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “Predicting Communication via the Internet (1966),” interview with Robert Fulford, May 8, 1966, on CBC’s This Hour Has Seven Days in Understanding Me: Lectures and Interviews, 2003, p. 101.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, February 5th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Technology No Comments

It took a while, but the future is here.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  A prophecy.

“Shortly it [film] will under TV pressure, go into its portable, accessible … phase.  Soon everyone will be able to have a small, inexpensive film projector that plays an 8-mm sound cartridge as if on a TV screen.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  And few will realize things have changed.

Except, of course, for artists.  And some of them will not be happy about the change.  For example, David Lynch:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 291-92.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, January 18th, 2011
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Who is doing the teaching?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  The ad men.

“The thoughtful observer will find some cause for dismay in the disproportion between the educational budget of the advertising industry and that for the education of the young in school and college.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  And what are they teaching?

This for instance.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 72.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Permalink Business, Communication, Education No Comments

Want to understand America today?

Marshall McLuhan (1951, age 40).  You need to understand its two grand traditions, the frontier and the home town.

The home town is about society, feeling, home and women.  The frontier is about business, action, office and men.  And believe me, the two will never meet until they have achieved their greatest opposition!

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  Do we still?

In the 1940s McLuhan thought America had divided along the lines of its two great traditions and the best place to see those traditions in action was on Soap Operas (the home town) and Horse Operas or Westerns (the Frontier).

In the 1960s he seemed to be saying that under electric conditions the two were finally meeting.  Business and society, feeling and action, home and office, and women and men were now increasingly switching positions, fusing rather than splitting.

Today where are we?  On TV the soap opera has given way to the talk show and the western to fantasy and science fiction.  Have the two traditions merged or simply reappeared in these genres?

The new home town?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=er-fi8mX1kc&feature=related

The new frontier?

Albeit with some changes.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, The Mechanical Bride, 1951, p. 156.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 12th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

Business is our culture.

Marshall McLuhan (1970, age 59). You can learn a lot from ads

Today, with the movement of information at electronic speeds, “business and culture have become interchangeable.”  This is why I pay so much attention to advertisements.  To watch an ad is to be immersed in the culture within which the ad is designed to be persuasive.  In the future a historian who wanted to understand this age of ours could do so easily by studying our ads.

Me (December, 2010, age 58). Possibly.

If Marshall is right we should be able to discover a great deal about the differences between the 1950s and 1960s by examining these two ads, the first from the 1950s the second from the 1960s.  In the interests of science I have tried to hold constant as many variables as possible.

1950s

1960s

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, Culture is Our Business, 1970, “author’s note.”

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Michael Hinton Saturday, December 18th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Business, Communication, Culture 2 Comments

The ridiculousness of advertising (continued)

Marshall McLuhan (July 5, 1954, age 42). The reason why.

As I said yesterday it is remarkable how quickly an ad objectively examined strikes one as ridiculous.  The question is why?  Obviously it has to do with the conditions that favour objectivity.  Old ads are easier to view objectively.  And ads intended for other cultures.  They shock us into awareness of their ridiculousness while the ads of our culture today remain unnoticed, invisible.  Whoever it was that discovered water it certainly wasn’t a fish.

Me (November, 2010, age 58).  You’re not a fish are you?

Submitted for your objective consideration and possible merriment three more ads:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 130.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, December 2nd, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

The ridiculousness of advertising.

Marshall McLuhan (July 4, 1954, age 42). Dear Diary:

So many discoveries, I’m becoming quite giddy.  For example, if you simply study advertisements objectively as technologies for delivering persuasion and forget about passing moral judgments on them it is remarkable how quickly they become ridiculous.  Often, now, without warning the ridiculousness of an ad will hit me in my office or in the lecture hall and I find myself roaring with laughter.  My colleagues at Toronto University think I’m insane.  Let them, the study of advertising brings me great joy.      

Me (November, 2010, age 58).  May these bring you joy.

Submitted for your objective consideration and possible merriment three ads:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 130.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, December 1st, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Vol. 1 No Comments

The artistry of advertising.

Marshall McLuhan (May 26, 1964, age 52). Dear Diary:

No one seems to realize that advertisers are every bit as much artists as the Symbolists poets are.  That is they aim at certain effects and their artistry is to produce those effects in our minds.  I’m not praising them when I say they are artists or advertising is artistry.  I am simply stating a fact.

Me (November, 2010, age 58).  Is this art?

This, I believe, is Marshall’s and my 296th post.  As the 300th post in this blog draws near I am tempted to address only the most important, most significant, ideas in the McLuhan cannon.  But then I asked myself what would Marshall have done and I realized this would be a most unMarshall thing to do.  Instead, therefore, we will press on with whatever comes to hand.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading

Philip Marchand, Marshall McLuhan: The Medium and the Messenger, 1989, p. 116.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, November 30th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Vol. 1 No Comments