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.

We are not visual creatures any more

Marshall McLuhan (May 1964, age 52). North Americans are biased.

It is odd that North Americans will accept no other way of perceiving the world apart from the visual.  The Brits have never gone this far, nor the French.  To North Americans there is only one way for rational people to understand the world:  in visual space.  Visual space is continuous, uniform, and connected.  That is the bias the North American brings to his understanding.  Here only seeing is believing.  There is no other way.

Me (February 2010, age 57).  Today feeling is believing.

If Marshall McLuhan was right about the power of new electric media North Americans – especially those who are the second, third and fourth generations of TV kids – are no longer visually biased.  The new bias is that of acoustic space, which is discontinuous, non-uniform, and disconnected.

Today seeing is no longer believing – feeling is believing.  The good life is tactile:  It’s “cool” “sweet” or “juicy.”

How many of the trends and assumptions of the world today fit with this new bias?  Shortening attention spans, illiteracy and innumeracy, the failing of teachers rather than students, relative truth, the importance placed on intuition and feelings, emotional intelligence, grade inflation, political correctness?

Cordially, Marshall and Me

Reading for this post

Letters of Marshall McLuhan, 1987, p.300

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Michael Hinton Wednesday, March 10th, 2010
Permalink 1950s and 60s, Communication, Culture, Education, Vol. 1 No Comments

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