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.

Speed up!

Marshall McLuhan (May 1959, age 47). Producers are now consumers

I just got back from Winnipeg.  Didn’t have time to visit my first alma mater, The University of Manitoba, as I was too busy informing the Winnipeg Ad and Sales Club about the new business rules in our electronic age.  Here’s the short version, everything is moving so fast in our electric age that the only way to get ahead is to speed up.  The alternative is obliteration.  Winnipeg was shaking its head in collective dumbfoundment.  Can’t really blame them.  Looking around on the corner of Portage and Main, I’d be tempted to draw the conclusion that the world is slowing down not speeding up!  Sometimes not seeing is believing.

Me (December 2009, age 57). Marshall McLuhan on how to speed up

The great speed the business world is moving at is an idea that everyone in business today agrees with and without hesitation.  Even, I would hazard a guess in Winnipeg.   Marshall McLuhan’s ideas about speed are still worth thinking about today not because McLuhan offers a brilliant solution as to how to live at hyper speed.  His solution is to trade places with your complement.  Whatever role you perform there is a complement.  For example the complement of teacher is student.  The complement of producer is consumer.  The complement of writer is reader.  By switching roles you are in effect moving at very high speed.  For example, by becoming consumers, producers are able to anticipate shifts in demand.

How fast does your life move relative to your parents and grandparents?  What do you do to deal with the speed of change at which you live?  What is your complement?  Can you put yourself in the position of your complement?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, pp. 252-255.

Speed Limits,  Canadian Centre for Architecture, 20 May to 8 November 2009

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Michael Hinton Thursday, December 17th, 2009
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Business, Communication, Culture, Vol. 1 No Comments

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