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.

Marshall McLuhan and the Future of the Book

Marshall McLuhan (August 1967, age 56).  Read fast, read deep.

Eric told me the Evelyn Wood course in speed reading course would give me some ideas about the Future of the Book and he was right.  Speed reading – by the way – is like X-raying a book to get a picture of what the author is thinking.  In this sense it’s about reading in depth.  Of course it’s very tactile and involving.  And of course it does motivate you to read faster.

Me (June 2010, age 57).   The future of the book is now

I’m not sure what ideas about the Future of the Book (a book project of McLuhan’s that was never finished), or anything else Marshall McLuhan actually got from taking a speed reading course.  Philip Marchand says in his biography that McLuhan did find the course useful for reading advertising fliers.

His big idea about the Future of the Book seems to have come from his contemplation of Xeroxing or photocopying rather than speed reading.  Xeroxing, of course, is a technology in which all who use it are publishers and loosely speaking writers too.  Today the new social media allows more and more people to be writers and publishers.  Given the millions of blogs that exist today, as McLuhan predicted, readers have truly become publishers and writers in the electronic age.  And as usual not all are happy with the way this future has played out:  especially the newspapers, magazines, book publishers and others whose markets have been shifted by the internet.

In this new world , publishing may be as solitary an activity as reading.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post:

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, p. 345.

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, June 8th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Vol. 1 No Comments

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