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.

Social media

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.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TenWb-xLqDE&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading:

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

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, June 29th, 2011
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The telephone cures

Marshall McLuhan (May, 1964, age 52).  Is it not remarkable?

Neurotic children apparently lose all symptoms of their neuroses on the telephone.  And stutterers have been known to lose their stutter on the phone or when speaking a foreign language.

Me (December, 2010, age 58). The lesson?

Simple.  Media are not passive instruments.  They change us.  The telephone, McLuhan says, demands the participation of our other senses.  We doodle, we caress the phone, we feel, fall in love.  But, strangely we are not able to visualize the person we’re talking to.   In the clip, below, Rock Hudson and Doris Day show us how the phone works.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading: Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man, 1964, p. 56 and 273.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, December 11th, 2010
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How do you sling your slang?

Marshall McLuhan (November 2010, age 99). Down memory lane with Marshall and Corinne …

Corinne do you remember this?  ‘Slang offers an immediate index to changing perception.’”

“It certainly sounds like you, Marshall.”

“Of course it sounds like me, I said it.  And you typed it up and that’s how it got into Understanding Media. ”

“Did I?”

“Of course you did, behind every great man in the university is the sound of his wife’s typing.  The fascinating thing is that slang continues to be an immediate index to changing perception.”

Just listen to the internet kids talking.  Here’s a typical snippet:

  • He’s really, really, mad.
  • I’m like, ‘Hey, why are you like that?’
  • And he’s like, ‘whatever.’”

“What are they saying, Marshall?”

“Hard to say, there is an unmistakable 80s patina to it, but that doesn’t matter, focus on the medium, the words.  That’s the real message.   No one says saying or said anymore.  The verb to say is gone, replaced by like.  Conversation is getting cooler and cooler.  More and more involved and involving.  The internet has taken on the job TV was doing to us in the 60s and stepped it up several notches.  Visual man is waving good bye to his progeny.”

Me (November, 2010, age 58).  Here’s some more talk to think about:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

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

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Michael Hinton Tuesday, November 16th, 2010
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What’s wrong with our schools?

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

“In education the conventional division of the curriculum into subjects is already as outdated as the medieval trivium and quadrivium after the Renaissance.  Any subject taken in depth at once relates to other subjects.”

Me (November, 2010, age 58). No wonder kids drop out …

Nothing makes sense.  It’s too superficial.  Math in math class.  English in English class.  Science in science class.  We need to mix things up.  And give it a purpose.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Marshall McLuhan, Understanding Media, 1964, p. 347.

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Michael Hinton Friday, November 12th, 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

 

Reading

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

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Michael Hinton Thursday, October 21st, 2010
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We have no idea what is going to happen

Marshall McLuhan (June 17, 1963, age 51).  Why?

Because “[t]he extension of the nervous system by electric media has no precedent in human culture.”

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  Don’t like that answer?

Actor Richard Dreyfuss takes a stab at another one:

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 289.

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Michael Hinton Saturday, October 2nd, 2010
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What do you suspect?

Marshall McLuhan (February 27, 1962, age 50)  The power of TV …

“When we hear that Life magazine is in trouble, or that the motor car industry is running scared, or that the text-book industry, like the school system, is in the process of total restructuring, few people are inclined to suspect that all of these changes and a great many more are directly due to the impact of the TV image on the American senses.”

Me (September, 2010, age 58)  The power of the internet …

Likewise today few suspect the real power of the internet to reshape our lives.  But some do:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3w4NcZEQ1n4&feature=related

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 287.

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Michael Hinton Friday, October 1st, 2010
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What aren’t you seeing?

Marshall McLuhan (November 18, 1961, age 50).  The invisibility of media

Every medium “is invested with a cloak of invisibility.”  Why else would people not notice what they are doing to us?

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  Hope this helps …

Here is a short list of media that have shed the cloak of invisibility to become visible to us while they remain invisible to their users:

  • Huge head phones
  • Cell phones in taxi cabs
  • Ball caps in restaurants
  • Chewing gum at the theatre
  • Plaid shirts everywhere
  • Dirt-stained sweat pants
  • Nap sacks on old men

Here is author of is “Google making us stupid?, Nicholas Carr, with another list:

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan,  1987, p. 281.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, September 30th, 2010
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The paradox of the electronic age

Marshall McLuhan (May 16, 1959, age 47).  That old black magic has got us by the …

In this electronic age of ours change is the only constant.  We live and breathe change and yet there is nothing that we hate more than change.   This is the great paradox of our times.  And yet it is easily explained.  Electric media have re-tribalized us.  And there is nothing tribal man hates more than change.  You might say we are used to change and used by change, but we have not got used to it.

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  Hope this helps …

 

Cordially, Marshall and Me

 

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 254.

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, September 29th, 2010
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The present as future.

Marshall McLuhan (December 14, 1960, age 49).  No more teachers no more books .

The other day, as I was telling Claude Bissell, I received a questionnaire.  One of the questions was: “In your opinion will the television school broadcasts ever replace the teacher in the classroom?”  Of course they will.  Why do people insist on assuming that the present is forever?

Me (September, 2010, age 58).  And the beat goes on.

It’s hard to imagine a question like this being posed today.  The future is now the present.  This fall, many first year college students will see their professors for the first time on (closed circuit) television or on the internet and ask their first question by e-mail.

In the sixties Marshall’s prophesies were viewed by most people as crazy talk.    Many kids today, I imagine, will read them and wonder what the fuss was all about.

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p. 275.

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Michael Hinton Thursday, September 16th, 2010
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