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.

Communication

What you are seeing is what you (think you are) getting

“Today young lawyers in setting up offices are advised to keep books out of sight,”¬†says Marshall McLuhan in¬†a richly idea-laden essay published in Explorations over fifty years ago.¬† Why? Because the absence of books. he continues,¬†sends the message “You are the law, the source of all knowledge of the law, so far as your clients are concerned.” In other words, the¬†office is the message.¬† Today on the third day of McLuhan week¬† in Toronto a panel discussion will take place on¬†“the changing format of the book and the future of reading.”¬† I wonder whether any one there will bring up¬†this idea of McLuhan’s?¬† For if¬†digital books succeed in¬†kicking traditional books to the curb surely one of the more powerful effects of this shift will be to make¬†the practitioners of all the professions seem to be even more knowledgeable than they were before.¬†¬†It will be¬†as if every professional has been given¬†an invisable teleprompter to use in their offices.

Cordially Me

Reading:

Marshall McLuhan, “The effect of the printed book on language in the 16th century,” [1957] reprinted in McLuhan – Unbound, (02), Ginko Press, 2005, pp.9-10.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, July 20th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication 2 Comments

Down Memory Lane (part five)

This week I’m¬†featuring some of my favourite posts from this blog’s archive.¬† Submitted today for your approval Marshall McLuhan on the telephone:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oz_NkXeAnJo&feature=related

Cordially, Me

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Michael Hinton Saturday, July 16th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments

What will I miss when my blogging ends?

Every post begins with the search for an idea of Marshall’s to write about.¬† Finding a new idea¬†– at least one new to me – is a rush.¬† One of my favourites may or may not be an idea Marshall ever talked about.¬†That’s what Eric McLuhan says in an argument that’s now making the rounds in the higher reaches of the McLuhansphere. Here’s the link to my original post on the idea.

What’s the dispute about? Hold on to your hats. Eric McLuhan insists¬†that Marshall¬†had nothing to do with Dr Timothy Leary’s 1960s counter-culture mantra “turn on, tune in, drop out.”¬† That¬†Leary’s memory must have been playing tricks on him.¬†But if¬†McLuhan had nothing to do with it I can not help thinking he ought to have.¬† At any rate, the debate on this idea is not over.¬†¬†Someone¬†claims to have a video tape of Marshall Mcluhan talking about the incident.¬† Whatever happens I’m sure of one thing: McLuhan’s reputation will emerge unsullied. ¬†

Cordially me

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Michael Hinton Friday, July 8th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture 1 Comment

Hello I must begin my going

As the end of this blog and McLuhan’s 100th birthday on July 21 draws near I should try to sum things up, to make clear what it is¬†I have been trying to do, and where¬† I think I have succeeded and where I have not.¬† But as the mosquito said on entering the nudist colony –¬†a joke Marshall McLuhan liked to tell – “I don’t know where to begin.”¬† So let me begin on the beginning of the end with something that may or may not be appropriate, an interview¬†of McLuhan on¬†Australian¬†television recorded¬†on June 19,¬†1977 when Mcluhan was 66.¬†¬†Here he is shifting from idea to idea, throwing out an idea and then moving on much as this bog has done. And as¬†I am now doing.¬†

Tomorrow I will pick up where I have left off.

Cordially, Marshall and me   

 

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Communication, Culture, Education No Comments

How important are social media?

Marshall McLuhan (June, 1967, age 55) Ask, “Who is affected?”

“I find media analysis very much more exciting now [than literary work] because it affects so many more people. One measure of the importance of anything is: Who is affected by it? In our time, we have devised ways of making the most trivial event affect everybody.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58) Can there be any doubt now about the power of social media?

The proof can be summarized in a single word: Vancouver.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TenWb-xLqDE&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

McLuhan: Hot & Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn, New York, 1967, p. 261

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture No Comments

For whom does the bell ring?

Marshall McLuhan (1960, age 49) For your information some questions

“Is the telephone extremely demanding of individual attention? Is it abrupt, intrusive, and indifferent to human concerns?”

Me (June 2011, age 58) Well?

These are just two of the questions in Marshall McLuhan’s 1960 “Report on Project in Understanding New Media” which was intended as¬†a high school textbook on media studies and wound up being the first draft of his 1964 best seller Understanding Media. It is probable the book would have flopped as a high school textbook, but the questions have much to teach anyone who is willing to tussle with them. For example these two beg the answers, yes and yes.¬†Knowing this will you always be so eager to call knowing what effect you’re¬†having?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

McLuhan:Hot and Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn. New York, 1967, p. 157

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication 1 Comment

Why people read ads.

Marshall McLuhan (May 8, 1966, age 54)  To feel reassured.

“Do you know that most people read ads about things they already own?¬† They don’t read things to buy them but to feel reassured that they have already bought the right thing.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58) Which raises another question

The good of ads then is they convince people not to return things they’ve just bought.¬† Which raises the question, “What do people read or watch initially that persuades them to take a chance on something?”

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections On and by Marshall McLuhan, edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart, 1996, p. 162.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments

The future of advertising

Marshall McLuhan (May 8, 1966, age 54)¬† Obviously …

“Where advertising is heading is quite simply into a world where the ad will become a substitute for the product and all the satisfaction will be derived informationally from the ad and the product will be merely a number in some file somewhere.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58)  Think of it!

Tobacco without the¬†cancer and alcohol without the hang over.¬† And why not?¬† Who hasn’t at least once in their life gone to the movies and wound up fighting a duel¬†and emerging unscathed.¬† Why not imaginative consumption of more pedestrian¬†experiences.¬† Meanwhile, until Madison Avenue catches up¬†…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3F_CCt5o00E&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

Forward Through the Rearview Mirror: Reflections On and By Marshall McLuhan, edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart, 1996, p.162.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication No Comments

How to laugh at ads.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  The Will Rogers effect.      

‚ÄúWill Rogers discovered years ago that any newspaper read aloud from a theater stage is hilarious.¬† The same is true today of ads.¬† Any ad put into a new setting is funny.¬† This is a way of saying that any ad consciously attended to is comical.‚ÄĚ

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  In other words …

If you’re going to study ads you can’t afford to pay too much attention to them.  As an exercise try not to pay too much attention to this ad:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 228.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, June 16th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments

Death of the hard-sell

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  The new cool TV world!      

‚ÄúSince the advent of TV, the exploitation of the unconscious by the advertiser has hit a snag.¬† TV experience favors much more consciousness concerning the unconscious than do hard-sell forms of presentation in the press, the magazine, movie, or radio.¬† The sensory tolerance of the audience has changed, and so have the methods of appeal by the advertisers.¬† In the new cool TV world, the old hot-world of hard-selling, earnest-talking salesmen has all the antique charm of the songs and togs of the 1920s.‚ÄĚ

Me (June, 2011, age 58).  Working against and with the medium.

An ad from the old hot world:

And the new cool world:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading: 

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 228.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 15th, 2011
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication No Comments