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.

Print media

Newspapers don’t make news.

Marshall McLuhan (1965, age 53).  You do.

“The only connecting factor in any newspaper is the dateline… . When you enter through the dateline, when you enter your newspaper, you begin to put together the news – you are producer.”

Me (January, 2011, age 58).  If so, it doesn’t matter that Sarah Palin couldn’t name a paper she’d read:

Their names are irrelevant.  If you don’t like the sense Sarah Palin makes of the stories that flash past her eyes don’t blame it on the newspapers she reads or doesn’t read.  It’s not what she reads but what she does with what she reads.

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, “Address at Vision 65,” in Essential McLuhan, 1995, p. 227.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, January 26th, 2011
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Do you want to be immortal?

Me (October, 2010, age 58).  More on the power of print.

Yet another of the powers of print according to Marshall McLuhan is that it granted us the power of immortality.  Granted, you cannot live forever.  But you can put you into a book and that version of you could live forever.  Or can it?  How long will any of the things made by man survive?  Many today behave as if social media and possibly other technologies will give us immortality too.  Are they wrong so to do?

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  Of course …

“Psychically, the visual extension and amplification of the individual by print had many effects.  Perhaps as striking as any other is the one mentioned by Mr. E.H. Forster, who when discussing some Renaissance types, suggested that ‘The printing press, then only a century old, had been mistaken for an engine of immortality, and men had hastened to commit to it deeds and passions for the benefit of future ages.’  People began to act as though immortality were inherent in the magic repeatability and extensions of print.”

Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 175.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, October 23rd, 2010
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Successful media are very successful.

Me (October, 2010, age 58).  Don’t underestimate successful media .

In Understanding Media Marshall McLuhan reminds us not to underestimate the power of successful media to work their way into every crack and cranny of our culture.  He does not think he needs to argue the case.  A word to the wise should be enough.  Consider for example the continuing power of the automobile to influence our lives.  I imagine as the flood waters rise on this globally-warming world we will be calmly raising our highways rather than saying good bye to our cars:


Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  Of course …

“Once a new technology comes into a social milieu it cannot cease to permeate that milieu until every institution is saturated.”


Cordially, Marshall and Me



Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 177.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, October 21st, 2010
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The power of print is greater than you think!

Me (October, 2010, age 58).  The curious case of the death of the book.

Of all Marshall McLuhan’s prophecies perhaps the most controversial in his time, and ours, was the death of the book.  And he was not shy about who he mentioned it to.  Most famously, in a speech to publishers in New York City in the sixties, the story goes, McLuhan decided to let his audience in on the news that they wouldn’t be around in the future, at least not in the business of publishing hard-cover books.  Afterwards, the audience was so impressed by his talk one of the publishers offered him a book deal for – you guessed it – Understanding Media.  Yet it is often forgotten that McLuhan also believed that the powers created by the book would long outlive their creator, which is not as good a story, but may in fact be more likely to be true.  And perhaps there is for this reason less need to run for cultural cover as the internet continues to play havoc with newspapers, magazines, and of course the poor old book.

Marshall McLuhan (1964, age 52).  The book may be dead but not the book bred!

“Those who panic now about the threat of the newer media and about the revolution we are forging, vaster in scope than that of Gutenberg, are obviously lacking in cool visual detachment and gratitude for that most potent gift bestowed by on Western man by literacy and typography: his power to act without reaction or involvement.  It is this kind of specialization by dissociation that has created Western power and efficiency.  Without this dissociation of action from feeling and emotion people are hampered and hesitant.  Print taught men to say, “Damn the torpedoes.  Full steam ahead!”

As illustrated, for example, here:


Cordially, Marshall and Me


Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 178.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, October 20th, 2010
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