A tribute to and a lament for Marshall McLuhan.  Five days a week, Tuesday through Saturday, I present one of McLuhan’s observations and talk about its relevance today.  300 ideas. 300 days.  300 posts.

Discovering new things.

Marshall McLuhan (1977, age 66).  Try this out for size

Here’s a game marketing experts play to discover new products.  Take any object, say a Q-tip or a thumb tack.  A Q-tip or thumb tack is not any one particular thing but a relationship between itself (figure) and everything about it (ground).  As a result it is easy to invent new things by combining familiar figures with an unfamiliar ground.

Me (May 2010, age 57).   What does experience tell us?

This is another of Marshall McLuhan’s “warm up” exercises to “sharpen your powers of observation,” which you can find in his book City as Classroom.  Just as words have different meanings in different contexts artifacts would appear to have different uses in different environments.

Take the familiar Q-tip. What unfamiliar grounds can you place it in contact with?” (touch screen, sun screen, electrical outlet, electric light … )  What new products can you create?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Marshall McLuhan, Kathryn Hutchon, and Eric McLuhan, City as Classroom:  Understanding Language and Media , 1977,   pp. 16.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Permalink 1970s and 80s, Business, Vol. 1 No Comments

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