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.

Still going on going

The question that anyone coming to this blog is bound to ask is: What’s so fascinating about Marshall McLuhan?  Why are his ideas still worth thinking about today, so long after his two big books – The Gutenberg Galaxy and Understanding Media – came out in the 1960s ?  For me the hook isn’t the big statements that admittedly still resonate in our digital age “the medium is the message’ or “the global village,” or “pattern recognition;”  it’s the small, seemingly inconsequential observations he came out with that force you to think freshly about the world.  A case in point, in the interview I posted yesterday Marshall McLuhan asserts that children pay close attention to ads on TV because the’re better made than the shows.  Stunningly fascinating.  Here for example is one of those ads children were watching in the 1960s.

And if they’re paying close attention to it, you’ve got to ask yourself, “What are they learning from it?”  And “Who aren’t they paying attention to and learning from?”  In other words, what you learn most from McLuhan is what he pushes you to teach yourself.

Cordially, Marshall and me

Michael Hinton Thursday, July 7th, 2011
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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   


Michael Hinton Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
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The delights of irregularity

Marshall McLuhan (June, 1967, age 55). Another breakthrough!

In the editing and publishing of our journal, Explorations, Ted Carpenter and I made a remarkable discovery.  Namely, “that readers like a journal that appears on an irregular basis.  Most readers of most journals are very unhappy about their regular appearance.”

Me (July, 2011, age 58).

Bowing to the undoubted desire of most readers of this blog for more irregularity in appearance, I will post again on Wednesday, July 6.  Then again I may not.  Until then I recommend that you take a peek in the archives.  What’s old can be new.


Cordially, Marshall and Me


McLuhan: Hot & Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn. New York, 1967, pp. 263-64.

Michael Hinton Friday, July 1st, 2011
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The rational and the visual

Marshall McLuhan (June, 1967, age 55).  Thinking is leap frogging

“Connected sequential discourse, which is thought of as rational, is really visual. It has nothing to do with reason as such. Reasoning does not occur on single planes or in a continuous connected fashion. The mind leapfrogs. It puts things together in all sorts of proportions and ratios instantly.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58). Like this:

Cordially, Marshall and Me


McLuhan: Hot & Cool, edited by Gerald Emanuel Stearn, New York, 1967, p. 264.

Michael Hinton Thursday, June 30th, 2011
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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.


Cordially, Marshall and Me


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

Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
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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


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

Michael Hinton Tuesday, June 28th, 2011
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The strange new world of management

Marshall McLuhan (1972, age 60)  Welcome to the unknown.

“With the acceleration of change, management now takes on entirely new functions.  While navigating admidst the unknown is becoming the normal role of the executive, the new need is not merely to navigate but to anticipate effects with their causes.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58)  Meaning?

You can not escape the future, sidestep it or go around it.  To succeed in it you must be part of it; you must make it happen.  Exhilarating isn’t it?

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Mark Federman and Derrick De Kerckhove, McLuhan for managers: new tools for new thinking, 2003, p. xiii.

Michael Hinton Saturday, June 25th, 2011
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Is advertising dead?

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52) Clearly …

“When all production and all consumption are brought into a preestablished harmony with all desire and all effort, then advertising will have liquidated itself by its own success.”

Me (June, 2011, age 58)  Seems like we’re stuck with ads

The realization of such a harmony seems unlikely under our present market-based economy.  The question then for all marketers is not whether advertising is dead but where it will live.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Forward through the Rearview Mirror:  Reflections On and By Marshall McLuhan, edited by Paul Benedetti and Nancy DeHart, 1996, p. 163.

Michael Hinton Friday, June 24th, 2011
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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


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

Michael Hinton Thursday, June 23rd, 2011
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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 …


Cordially, Marshall and Me


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

Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011
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